By: Dan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @DanAnderson5970
The Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers have a long history of making trades, dating back to when Harry Sinden and Glen Sather were the respective General Managers. Players such as Andy Moog, Bill Ranford, Geoff Courtnall, Vladimir Ruzicka, Greg Hawgood, Ken Linseman, Bill Guerin, Anson Carter, and Mike Krushelnyski wore both uniforms at some point in their careers. The last trade of consequence the Bruins made with Edmonton was on March 9, 2006; Sergei Samsonov was traded for Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny, and a 2006 second-round draft pick. At the time, it seemed like a trade to move on from Samsonov and bring Reasoner back home after starring at Boston College. With the benefit of time, this transaction was a franchise-altering trade; that second-round pick? It became Milan Lucic. Perhaps it is time for another shakeup?
These teams had discussed swapping Torey Krug for Oscar Klefbom and Edmonton’s first-round pick in 2018, Evan Bouchard, during the Summer of 2019, which did not come to fruition. Recently the Oilers pursued a trade of thirty-year-old power-play specialist Alex Chiasson to the Bruins in exchange for Anders Bjork. Keith Gretzky, Edmonton’s current Assistant General Manager, was responsible for drafting Bjork when he was the Director Of Amateur Scouting for the Boston Bruins. Rumors swirl as well that perhaps Jake DeBrusk could be heading back home to Edmonton.
Much like the Bruins had to do when Don Sweeney took the reigns, the Oilers are still recovering from having Peter Chiarelli as General Manager. Their position against the salary cap is almost six million dollars worse than the Bruins, and they are also short several draft picks. The Oilers are now headed by Ken Holland, who came to Edmonton after a long career in management for the Detroit Red Wings. The Oilers need an upgrade at goaltender and could use some depth at forward, particularly center. I am sure Holland is looking to unload contracts, especially with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl paid $12.5 million and $8.5 million each season. If he could find a taker for thirty-three-year-old James Neal and his $5.75 million deal, I am sure he would do it. Edmonton also has a few restricted free agents they would like to sign.
I don’t see Boston being foolish enough to accept the Chiasson for Bjork deal, but there are other possibilities for trades. I don’t see a forward on Edmonton’s roster that would help the Bruins currently and is also available, as much as I might like to see Connor McDavid wearing the spoked B. I see two left defensemen on the Oilers roster that could help the Bruins in Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom. Holland has already shown a willingness to consider trading Klefbom, but would he be willing to consider trading Nurse? Darnell was signed to a bridge deal earlier this year but is still Edmonton’s highest-paid defender at $5.6 million per season for the next two years. Klefbom is two years older at age twenty-seven and signed through 2022-23 at $4.167 million. Nurse would never make anyone forget Torey Krug’s offensive abilities.
Despite lacking the creativity in the offensive side of the game, he is not a liability there. He does, however, have some characteristics that would make people forget Krug’s defense. At 6’4 inches tall and weighing 221 pounds, Bruins fans would enjoy the physicality that Nurse brings to the game. His father, Richard Nurse, played professional football in Canada for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Darnell is a good skater and crisp passer. How do the Bruins go about acquiring this player? The Bruins themselves don’t have a lot of draft picks available to trade this year. As much as I can see Brandon Carlo being a possible asset to move for the right price, the Oilers have a plethora of right defensemen; would they take an upgrade?
Yes, but I don’t think Carlo could figure in a trade for Nurse considering their team’s needs. Another option? Matt Grzelcyk and Jake DeBrusk going to Edmonton as the core pieces. Both teams should have some concerns about this option, as the Bruins are looking to add to their top-six forwards, not subtract, and while Nurse is an upgrade over Grzelcyk, this doesn’t address the lack of depth on the Bruins’ left defensive side. For the Oilers, I don’t think this is enough to justify getting rid of Darnell Nurse. It would be trading an experienced NHL defenseman for a streaky scorer and unproven top-four defender.
Klefbom seems to be a reasonable option in this scenario. He carries a cost-effective contract through what should be his prime years and is the Oilers’ best defenseman. He’s another first-round pick, but he’s also been injury prone. Currently, he is contemplating surgery that would put him out of action for some time due to injuries during this past season. Unfortunately for the Oilers, this puts them not in the market to trade away left defensemen but acquire them like the Bruins are. While the thought of having Nurse in a Bruins uniform is pleasant, I think trading with Alberta’s other team, the Calgary Flames, is much more likely.