Edmonton’s defense was dealt a major blow on Monday, as GM Peter Chiarelli announced Darnell Nurse would miss the next 12 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair ligament and bone damage in his ankle.
Nurse, 21, was the seventh overall pick in 2013 and had been a mainstay on the club’s blueline. He averaged just under 18 minutes a night through 25 games this year — scoring three goals and five points — while racking up 60 hits, which was second among all Oilers d-men.
Nurse is a big, physical presence that head coach Todd McLellan referred to as “a very important part of our group.” Whether it’s coincidence or not, it should be mentioned that — after Nurse was knocked out of the lineup on Dec. 3 against Winnipeg — the Oilers surrendered 14 goals over their next four games.
This injury, along with the one suffered by Brandon Davidson earlier in the year, has thinned out the Edmonton blueline. McLellan used a six-man unit comprised of Adam Larsson, Oscar Klefbom, Kris Russell, Andrej Sekera, Matthew Benning and Dillon Simpson in last night’s win over the Jets, with Russell and Sekera the high minute-men (each with over 24:00 TOI).