3 Oilers Who May Not Complete Their Current Contracts

EDMONTON, CANADA - MAY 14: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93, Darnell Nurse #25, and Jack Campbell #36 of the Edmonton Oilers defend the net in the third period against the Las Vegas Golden Knights in Game Six of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 14, 2023 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, CANADA - MAY 14: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93, Darnell Nurse #25, and Jack Campbell #36 of the Edmonton Oilers defend the net in the third period against the Las Vegas Golden Knights in Game Six of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 14, 2023 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images) /
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DETROIT, MICHIGAN – FEBRUARY 07: Darnell Nurse #25 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on February 07, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN – FEBRUARY 07: Darnell Nurse #25 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on February 07, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

D Darnell Nurse

In August 2022, Darnell Nurse signed an eight-year contract extension with the Edmonton Oilers worth a staggering $74 million. With an average annual value of $9.25 million, Nurse’s salary places him among the elite defenseman in the league. Such a significant commitment to a single player limits the financial flexibility the Oilers have to allocate resources to other positions and address other roster needs.

The NHL operates under a salary cap system that imposes a maximum limit on the amount a team can spend on player salaries. Nurse’s $9.25 million annual cap hit represents a considerable portion of the team’s available cap space, leaving less room to sign or retain other key players. This restriction can hinder the Oilers’ ability to strengthen their roster depth and address other positional needs.

Nurse’s lengthy eight-year contract adds another layer of complexity to the Oilers’ salary cap management. As the years progress, the salary cap may increase, but the financial commitment to Nurse will remain constant. This poses challenges in terms of long-term planning and projecting future cap space availability. The team must carefully strategize its financial decisions to ensure they can navigate potential salary cap constraints in the future while still assembling a competitive team.

Darnell Nurse has been a key fixture on the Edmonton Oilers’ defense, but recent inconsistencies in his own zone prompted the team to pursue reinforcements. In a bid to bolster their defensive capabilities for the playoffs, the Oilers made a significant move by trading for defenseman Mattias Ekholm. The addition of Ekholm opens multiple possibilities for the Oilers to explore trade options for  Nurse’s massive contract if it becomes cumbersome for the team to carry.