An emotional Darnell Nurse was one of four players reassigned September 24. His impressive showing made it more difficult to send him down, and it’ll be more difficult next September. What is the Nurse ETA?
PREVIOUSLY NUMBER ONE ON THE WINTER LIST
- December 2004: C Rob Schremp
- December 2005: G Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers
- December 2006: L Viacheslav Trukhno
- December 2007: C Sam Gagner
- December 2008: C Riley Nash
- December 2009: L Magnus Paajarvi
- December 2010: L Taylor Hall
- December 2011: C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- December 2012: R Nail Yakupov
WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY
- Bob McKenzie: 9
- Redline: 8
- Craig Button: 8
- ISS: 6
- Kyle Woodlief — USA Today: is the most naturally physical defender available. He made good strides in his offensive game and has a heavy shot that is an asset on the power play. He likes to dish out punishment along the walls and easily separates his check from the puck. Nurse also scores off the charts in both his character and intelligence levels, and at a gangly 6-5, already has the footwork of a much smaller man.
- Corey Pronman — Hockey Prospectus: Nurse had a considerable amount of hype at the beginning of the season, and he has exceeded all expectations. He is a gifted physical player who has all the natural tools a scout could want from a defenseman. He has slowly begun to emerge as a two-way player, but his value comes from his high-end work in his own end. Nurse is a tall defender with an aggressive edge and the strength to consistently push his checks off pucks. He has above-average mobility, especially considering his larger size.
- OHL PROSPECTS: Nurse is definitely my top prospect available from the OHL. The thing I like most about Nurse is how much he improved this season from the last. You need to look at that progression and think about just how good he could be, if he continues to tap into his athletic bloodlines (father was a CFL player), and continues to improve. He’s certainly a potential dynamo at both ends of the ice. His size (6’5, pushing 200lbs), makes him an asset in the defensive end. As does his skating ability. He’s incredibly difficult to get around and he’s physical enough to intimidate. As he gets stronger, I expect his physical game to become more consistent and more effective. He certainly has the mentality to be a bruiser.
- Craig MacTavish: “He gives us an element we’re sorely lacking. He’s a guy who, over time, if we’re patient with him, is going to provide us with toughness. He’s a guy that will ride shotgun for a lot of our first overall picks and our skilled players for a lot of years. But our overriding draft philosophy is still to draft the player who is going to have the greatest impact on our team over time. Based on that philosophy, I still thought Darnell was the player who is going to have the greatest impact on our team.”
|DARNELL NURSE 2012-13||68, 10-17-27(.397)||68, 2-10-12 (.176)||68, 0-2-2||68, 12-29-41 (0.60)|
|DARNELL NURSE 2013-14||18, 2-6-8 (.444)||18, 4-7-11 (.611)||18, 0-1-1||18, 6-14-20 (1.11)|
Nurse’s offense is up at evens and overall, but the big push (and we anticipated it) comes from the powerplay. Nurse is getting 1PP minutes with the Greyhounds and is now beyond a point per game overall. This is extremely rare air we’re talking about now, Michael Parkatti mentioned Alex Pietrangelo as an early comp (these are early days) offensively.
It’s important too to remember that Nurse’s overall value is mostly defense based on his draft day scouting report, and impressive offense is a five-star kicker. If he scores 25 points a season in the NHL as a top 4D that’s going to hold value. If he can score 40? We’re looking at a 25-minute a night defender who can play in all three disciplines (if he continues tracking this way).
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING NOW
- Craig MacTavish: “We’ll see where Nurse is next year, whether he’s able to step in but we feel he’s not too far away.”
- Nurse on his improved shot: “My shot was the weakest part of my game. I knew it had to get better. It absolutely bothered me. In my position, not having a shot was a hard thing to deal with. This summer I took it to another level. To be put in power-play situations, you have to have a big-shot presence from the point.”
- Sarnia coach Trevor Letowski: “(Nurse is) a physical guy that’s going to be hard on our top players so we’ll try to get them away from him, but again, it’ll be hard because it’s on the road.”
- Nurse on being part of the November Subway series: “This is another step in the process of making my dream to play for Team Canada a reality. Besides winning in Sault Ste. Marie, my biggest goal this year is to wear that Canada crest at Christmas time.”
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey: turned a lot of heads at camp, and hung around a whole lot longer than most observers expected. Indeed, he outlasted all but the nine veteran pros (eight with NHL experience, plus 27-year-old Anton Belov). He watched the departures a number of excellent prospects, all of them older than Nurse and some of high draft pedigree: Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, and David Musil were all top 50 draft picks in 2010 or ’11 and were already sent down several days ago. Nurse meanwhile put up a string of impressive performances right through Tuesday night’s game that had tongues wagging.
In ranking Darnell Nurse #1 overall, I’ve taken into account his wide range of skills, Eric Tulsky’s work last season in regard to difficulty of opposition (and anecdotal information on this year that suggests he’s playing big, tough minutes) and the surge offensively we’ve seen this year. I’m also warmed by Michael Parkatti’s tweet this week (“Nurse turning into Pietrangelo would solve a few problems. Latter had 29 pts in 36 OHL games draft+1. Nurse’s pace above that.”) and what that might mean–early days warning applies.
The Oilers have drafted wonderful offensive players through the years (Messier, Kurri, Anderson in the beginning and Hall, Nuge, Yak and Eberle in recent years) but a player like Darnell Nurse is a rare thing. He’s long, tall, tough, fast and skilled–if his offense had made itself better known earlier he may not have been available to them.
Nurse ETA: It’s next fall. I don’t think there’s much that can stop it now, Ladislav Smid’s trade indicates where this organization is heading in regard to this player. Darnell Nurse will come to the NHL at age 19, and chances are we’ll see him a lot on the PP and PK along with even strength. He’ll struggle, the team will struggle, but he’s that top pairing stud people are looking for right now. We can argue the wisdom of said decision, but Sault Ste. Marie fans are seeing Edmonton’s future this season. It’s my bet he won’t return for another.