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Adam Pelech And Darnell Nurse Are The Newest High Price Defensemen

Adam Pelech
Adam Pelech (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Adam Pelech And Darnell Nurse Have Secured The Bag This Summer

Adam Pelech and Darnell Nurse are the two latest defensemen to get big extensions in the NHL. They will join the likes of Seth Jones, Dougie Hamilton, Zach Werenski, Cale Makar, and others who have gotten huge paydays. However, there is one outlier in that list. Why not take a look at how the duo and their contracts are set to impact their respective teams.

While not nearly as consistent a point producer as the others, Pelech is set to make significantly less than the aforementioned names. This is great news, as the Islanders were set to have a behemoth of an offseason ahead of them. Locking up one of the best defensive defensemen in Pelech is a big step towards making this offseason a success. Lou Lamoriello can now focus on the Isles’ remaining free agents and maybe even some possible additions.

Let’s Look Elsewhere

The other notable defenseman to get extended was Darnell Nurse. This is hardly a surprise as the Oilers’ sport such a thin blue line corps. What was a surprise, however, was the AAV. Let’s first get this out of the way. Nurse is a very good defenseman. He puts up points from the back end like only a handful of others can. But $9.25 million a season is a significant overpay. 2021 was only his first top-10 finish in Norris voting, where he got a respectable 7th. When the extension kicks in, he will be the 5th highest-paid defenseman in the NHL. Ahead of Cale Makar, Dougie Hamilton, and many others.

Hockey Guy Trey won’t hesitate to tell you how great he is in fantasy. Believe me, I’m sure he is. 2020-2021 was his highest points-per-game in a single season of his career, as he notched close to 2/3 of a point per game. This extension has less to do with Nurse himself and more to do with the incompetence of the Oilers’ front office. Ken Holland had some great years in Detroit. But his time in Edmonton has started with more of a whimper than a bang.

I think Nurse was definitely deserving of at least a $7-$8 million salary. This contract is just a huge gamble now. He puts up impressive numbers as a defenseman, yes. But he also has the luxury of playing behind two of the game’s best forwards in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Simply getting minutes on the powerplay with them should guarantee you an extra 10-15 points a season. Offense aside, Nurse is looking more and more like a liability on his own end. His underlying numbers are less than ideal for a guy who projects to play top-pair minutes.


Cut To The Chase

Darnell Nurse and his monster extension appear to be falling right into the Seth Jones category of defenseman. Simply put, they’re good but not great. I really hope I am proven wrong here. Both guys were more than deserving of a big-time extension. But each got more than they deserved for different reasons. Chicago was dying to reinvent their blue line and arguably overpaid in the trade for Jones. Then they overpaid in the extension to keep Jones in a Blackhawks sweater. The Oilers, on the other hand, were looking for improvements to their defense. Despite having a great penalty kill, it did not translate well into the playoffs. They subsequently overpaid on both Tyson Barrie and Darnell Nurse. Along with that, they traded for a very old Duncan Keith and did not retain any salary.

The unfortunate part is that both do pretty much the same thing. Keith, Barrie, and Nurse are all offensive-minded defensemen who thrive as power-play quarterbacks. There is one silver lining, however, to all these deals. The term! We will have a long time to see how all of these deals play out for their respective teams. With COVID-19 forcing the NHL into a relatively flat salary cap, the economics of all these big contracts will be very interesting to see in a few years’ time.

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