The Winnipeg Jets got the ball rolling on Sunday when they signed Josh Morrissey to a two-year contract extension worth $6.3 million ($3.15M AAV).
Signing Morrissey set the market for the Edmonton Oilers and their own 23-year-old defenseman, Darnell Nurse. This afternoon the Oilers signed Nurse to a two-year deal worth $6.4 million ($3.2M AAV).
Each defenseman is expected to play a key role on their team’s blueline this season. Morrissey is projected to open the season on the Jets’ top pairing with Jacob Trouba, while Nurse could start with either Adam Larsson (top pair) or Matt Benning (second pair).
Despite being paid a little less, Morrissey is actually the better defenseman, according to Corsica Hockey Player Ratings. Morrissey grades out as the No.34 ranked left-handed defenseman and Nurse comes in at No.93. Oddly enough, both blueliners are coming off of the best seasons of their young careers and they were extremely similar. Morrissey scored seven goals with 19 assists (26 points) in 81 games and Nurse tallied six goals and 20 assists (26 points) in 82 contests.
|220. DARNELL NURSE, EDM – D||YEAR||GP||G/W||A/GAA||PTS/SV%||SO||SOG||PIMS||PPG||PPA||PPP||HIT||BLK|
Nurse is a huge defenseman (6-foot-4, 221 lbs) who plays a nasty game in the defensive zone and an athletic game in the offensive zone. Nurse played less than 30 seconds per game on the power-play last season, but with Andrej Sekera out long-term, Nurse should see an uptick in PP usage starting in October. He approached 200 shots while playing 22:15 last year and should approach 200 again this year. An improved shooting percentage (3.1%) could allow the fourth-year defenseman to score 10-plus goals with 25-plus assists this season. Nurse is capable of 175 hits and 150 blocked shots, which increases his value in those leagues.
|299. JOSH MORRISSEY, WPG – D||YEAR||GP||G/W||A/GAA||PTS/SV%||SO||SOG||PIMS||PPG||PPA||PPP||HIT||BLK|
Morrissey saw similarly small power-play usage (0:20 PP TOI/GM) last season. He sits behind Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba in the pecking order for PP time. Despite an impressive 25 points at even-strength last season, he probably needs one of them to get hurt in order to have standard league potential. That said, he too is capable of logging 150 hits and blocks this season.