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Sports Ethan Bear and Darnell Nurse giving Edmonton Oilers what they haven't had since 2016-17

07:40  22 october  2019
07:40  22 october  2019 Source:   edmontonjournal.com

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Darnell Nurse ( born February 4, 1995) is a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman and an alternate captain for the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League (NHL).

2016 – 17 . Seattle Thunderbirds. WHL. " Oilers select Bear from the Thunderbirds". Edmonton Journal. ^ " Ethan Bear ' s debut with Oilers has Ochapowace First Nation beaming with pride". cbc.ca.

Ethan Bear and Darnell Nurse are giving the Edmonton Oilers what they have not had since the 2016-17 playoff run, a functional first-pairing defensive duo.

The season is young, and both defensive and offensive slumps are all to real realities for NHL players, not to mention the threat of injury. But since they teamed up after Adam Larsson went out with injury, Bear and Nurse have been playing solid hockey in heavy minutes against tough competition.

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Ethan Bear . Edmonton Oilers / NHL - 19/20. Upload the photo, let us review it and we will upload it within 48 hours, assuming you confirm you have the photographer' s permisson to have it uploaded at eliteprospects.com.

Does Nurse have to bring his price down? While those questions will surely get answers in the coming days, the Sekera wrinkle gives Nurse ’ s camp a little If the plan is to have Bear starting the season with the Oilers , then we need to prepare ourselves for the fact that he’ s going to struggle at times and

That phrase “solid hockey in heavy minutes against tough competition” is a cliche for what’s expected of a top-pairing defensive parternship.

a hockey player standing in the snow: Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ethan Bear during NHL game action against the Los Angeles Kings in Edmonton on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.© Larry Wong Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ethan Bear during NHL game action against the Los Angeles Kings in Edmonton on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. As a descriptor, it lacks pizzazz.

But it’s nonetheless deeply satisfying for most fans of the Oilers of Edmonton to read that phrase and think of Bear and Nurse.

The team has been sorely lacking that kind of effective top-end partnership, that duo the coach can put out there against almost anybody and know they’re likely to survive it.

a screenshot of a cell phone© Provided by PostMedia Digital

In 2016-17, the Oilers actually had two partnerships on defence that were more than adequate, Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell on what I would call the top pairing (as the smart puck-moving Sekera was easily the best defenceman on the Oilers) and Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson the second-pairing. By the 2017 playoffs, Klefbom had stepped up and overtook Sekera as the team’s No. 1 d-man, but through the year Sekera had played a far more steady game with his elite passing and sound positional play.

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Darnell Nurse . Position: D • Shoots: Left. Team: Edmonton Oilers . Born : February 4, 1995 in Hamilton, Ontario ca. Draft: Edmonton , 1st round (7th overall), 2013 NHL Entry. 10/4 Logan Brown’ s agent isn’ t happy with how his client has been treated by the Ottawa Senators since being drafted.

Game Day 2: Oilers vs Kings. Like it or not, and I know many fans are worried, the Edmonton Oilers are going with a strong but young group of puck movers now that Adam Larsson is out with injury for six-to-eight weeks.

We all know what happened next. Sekera’s game got levelled by two major injuries and Klefbom’s game has been inconsistent due to constant smaller injuries and some defensive holes that top attackers sometimes exploit.

Enter Bear and Nurse.

Nurse was slotted to play on a defensive pairing with Adam Larsson this year, a plan that might have worked but certainly was not at all working when Larsson got hurt. The two were getting beat on far too many Grade A chances against in the pre-season and in their first league game of 2019-20.

Perhaps they would have sorted it out.

I had my doubts, mainly because both are at best average NHL puckmovers. Nurse can skate the puck, but neither player has the strong passing skills of a Sekera or a Klefbom.

a group of baseball players on a field:  The Edmonton Oilers’ Ethan Bear (74) congratulates goalie Mikko Koskinen (19)© David Bloom The Edmonton Oilers’ Ethan Bear (74) congratulates goalie Mikko Koskinen (19)

As for Bear, as recently as August 2019, few expected him to make the team, but he came to camp in peak physical condition after a summer of working hard on his body and his skating technique. What he’s done since then — mainly by stepping up when first Joel Persson then Larsson got hurt — has convinced most observers of the team that he’s a solid NHL d-man, if not a solid Top 4 NHL d-man, if not a young player who has a chance of actually sticking in on a top-pairing and not getting his game bashed to smithereens.

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After a lengthy negotiation that has led to several missed days of training camp, the Edmonton Oilers and Darnell Nurse have reached a conclusion. The two sides have reached an agreement on a two-year, .4MM contract. Nurse will earn just slightly more than fellow restricted free agent defenseman

Bear has played two seasons now in the AHL, while Jones got 17 games with the Oilers last The Oilers must also decide what they want to do with two of their highly-paid defensemen in Larsson and Russell. Karlsson, who has played in just five games since Jan. 16 before aggravating his injury, is

The danger with any young d-man is they’ll be asked to do too much to soon at the NHL level, something the Oilers saw most recently with Justin Schultz, then with Caleb Jones last year. Jones crushed it in bottom-pairing minutes against softer competition, then got caved himself when he was asked to play top-pairing minutes and competition. He’s now getting his game back together at the AHL level (where he’s again dominating play).

As for Bear, he looked iffy even in a third-pairing role during a short test run in 2017-18, so much so that he spent all of 2018-19 in the AHL. But in their first run of games together, Bear and Nurse are thriving.

Perhaps it’s that they have complementary skills, with Nurse able to do the heavy lifting when it comes to physical play and Bear able to reciprocate when it comes to puck-moving. But not since Andrej Sekera’s strong run in 2016-17 have we seen the combination of fine passing and smart positional play that we’re now getting from Bear in a top-paring role. That’s what the scoring chance data tells us, with Bear contributing to a good number of Grade A chances at even strength and not making too many major mistakes on Grade A chances against. His number is almost identical to what Sekera put up in 2016-17.

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  Edmonton Oilers come from two down to knock off Capitals in overtime Draisaitl and McDavid sparked an Oilers comeback win.The Oilers finally broke their long scoreless drought with 6:40 left in the first period. Darnell Nurse's centering pass went in off a Washington defender for the Oilers first goal in 165:58.

While Nurse might have aspirations of becoming a top-pairing option this year, is it fair to expect him to perform like one? Jan 12, 2018; Glendale, AZ, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the first period against the Arizona Coyotes at

Darnell Nurse . Born : February 4, 1995. Birthplace: Hamilton, ON, CAN. Richard had Darnell on skates at 4, and Nurse has followed his sporting passion ever since . The Oilers selected Nurse with the No. 7 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft and he proceeded to force Edmonton to make a difficult roster

I’m not expecting Bear to go without a major defensive slump or two. He’s going to have some rough patches and maybe need some time in the bottom pairing again. He might even look like Mark Fayne out there for a week or two at a time (Fayne being the d-man who by far struggled most in a Top 4 role since 2015-16).

But Bear leads all NHL rookies for time on ice per game, at 20:43. If he got top power play time, he might even be able to make a run at the NHL’s rookie of the year award.

It’s also worth noting he played two years in the AHL to get ready for this test. He’s more seasoned than Justin Schultz was at the AHL level. And he’s also got a far more able partner in the now seasoned Nurse than Schultz ever had in Edmonton.

So we will see.

But so far, so good.

At the Cult of Hockey

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Ethan Bear's decision to rededicate himself to hockey paying off for him and the Oilers .
Looking back, Ethan Bear figures his hockey future rested on two questions and one life-changing decision. "It was basically, did I want to be an NHL player?" the Edmonton Oilers defenceman says. "Or did I want to be an AHL player?"The decision came in the middle of an injury-plagued season with the Bakersfield Comets of the American Hockey League. After playing in 18 games for the Oilers in 2017-18, Bear found himself buried on the organizational depth chart. He scored just one goal through the first 33 games for the Comets and didn't receive a single call-up to the Oilers for the entire 2018-19 season.

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