Late rapper The Notorious B.I.G. is famous for his “Money, Mo problems” of the day, but Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse doesn’t expect the new cash flow to create any undue stress.
An eight-year nurse contract worth $74 million this season, making him the team’s second-highest-paid player and seventh-highest-paid defender in the NHL, earning more than the likes of Roman Jose and Cal Makar.
It’s a home-run salary he earned by accepting less on back-to-back bridge deals when Oilers were apprehensive about signing him to a long-term contract.
Good for him, but sometimes a deal like this can affect the player. Some are trying to do too much to try to live up to the money, and others are riled up by the pressure in a market that may be less forgiving of the defensive man earning $9.25 million a season.
The nurse doesn’t see any of these as a problem in his case.
“Honestly, I can say that the expectations and goals I’ve set myself since I’ve been in this league, since I was 12, are much higher than anyone in this room or out of this room would set,” he said.
“External noise is from outside noise. I wouldn’t be in this situation if I listened to everything around me, people complaining about me. I would have quit a long time ago.
“I’ve worked to get to the position I’m in now. There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with it, to myself and my teammates, and I don’t take that lightly. I’m looking forward to meeting some of the goals and expectations I’ve set for myself and everything else is just noise.”
The Nurse won’t rack up the same kind of points as some of the other defenders in his price range, but he feels he can still make an impact in the closing role, going head-to-head against the most dangerous attackers on the other team.
“That’s definitely the role I want to play this year,” he said. “Playing against the toughest competition as a defensive man is so much fun. It’s not easy, it’s hard work. Your mistakes are blatant and the things you do well don’t usually get noticed. But hateful jobs like that, for me as a competitor, it’s fun to be a part Of which “.
The way the nurse and coaching staff see it, if he can make an impact in the other team’s attack, a high-scoring team like Edmonton will win more than they lose.
“We have a very clear vision of what we need from a nurse Darnell to be a successful hockey team and he’s 100 per cent bought in,” said coach Jay Woodcroft.
“We’ve asked him to take on some of the toughest minutes we can feed him, and give him the important task of knocking out the other team’s best players.
“This pairing (he and Cody Cisse) has been a huge reason for our long-term success. I think he has embraced the challenge of competing against the best strikers in the world. And when he plays at his peak, I think he is one of the best Lockdown D men in the league.”
It took longer than Ryan McLeod would have liked, for much less money than he would like, but the 23-year-old center finally secured a contract.
McLeod had to wait until the last minute, and ended up signing a one-year deal for $798,000 (which turned out to be less than his expired eligible bid of $813,000), but with Oilers tight on the cap, that’s a significant year in his career. Young woman, he wasn’t about to draw a line in the sand and hold out.
“I think we have a good group and we have a chance to do something special this year,” he said. “I wanted to be a part of it. I didn’t want to come in a few weeks and with little money. I don’t think it was worth it.
“I want as much money as I can get, but I didn’t have a lot of rights this year, so I take it for what it is and hope to have a good year.
“It’s a little stressful coming here (for off-season skis and for boot camp doctors) without a deal, but I came early and wanted to show everyone that I wanted to be here.”
If things go the way he hopes, he could harness that into an even greater negotiating force next summer.
“I’m basically betting on myself. So I want to be here on day one, do my best forward and have a chance to have a good year for myself and the team.”
“I feel there is more room for me to grow and I am excited to take on the challenge.”
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