Oilers draft a big, tough defenseman. Highest pick for a blue in exactly forever. 6.04, 185. Tough defender, quick has some offense but this is a defender first when he arrives in the NHL. I had him #9 overall, saying “he’s an excellent prospect, 2-way guy with plenty of room to grow.”
- Bob McKenzie: 9
- Redline: 8
- Craig Button: 8
- ISS: 6
- Craig Button: Big, strong and competitive and he imposes himself on opponents. Very strong skater with quickness, agility and balance and he uses it very effectively to close on plays defensively and to move play ahead and out of his defensive zone. Has expanded his overall game and especially his offensive game to the point where he is demonstrating the ability of a top minute defenceman who can contribute in all areas. Darnell is a very well rounded and dependable player who plays with a competitive spirit that says ‘I’m here to do whatever is necessary to win.’ The type who can ‘log’ lots of important minutes in a game and these are valuable players in the NHL.
- International Scouting Services “Not only is Nurse an excellent 1 on 1 defender but he adds an intense mean streak to put fear in the opposition. He shows no hesitation in doing what it takes to win from blocking shots to dropping the mitts, Darnell was born to lead. Offensively he brings an arsenal of weapons whether it’s using his vision to find his man up ice or jumping up into the rush he continues to develop in these areas. He shows excellent mobility on the point and has great quickness for his size which makes him very effective in PP situations. He has a heavy shot but could stand to use it more often. Has all the tools to be a franchise defender and captain down the road.”
- Kyle Woodlief — USA Today: Next up is the huge and rapidly improving Darnell Nurse, who 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. With his wingspan, he is able to make a multitude of plays in the defensive end. I have heard previous concerns from scouts about his offensive upside, but he took a step forward in that element this season. He will not be a dynamic offensive threat, but he can move the puck at an above-average level, and join the rush on occasion. He projects as a point man on a second power play unit, while logging the tough defensive minutes. Nurse’s next level of progression will have to come from his below-average shot.
- OHL PROSPECTS: 1. Darnell Nurse – Defenseman – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
At this point, Nurse is definitely my top prospect available from the OHL. All season long, I wrestled back and forth between Monahan and Nurse. But it’s clearly Nurse now IMO. He possesses so much potential at the next level. He could be a perennial Norris candidate IMO. 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. In the defensive end, he’s still learning a bit. He can get caught out of position at times, but with strong coaching I think this improves. Offensively, he went through the biggest transformation this season. He looked very poised and confident with the puck and took chances in leading and joining the rush. His skating ability makes him a threat offensively. He’s also got an absolute cannon of a shot that will only get better as he gets stronger. His play on the powerplay is improving. This year, with Ryan Sproul and Colin Miller on the point, Nurse was relegated to the 2nd unit. Next year, it’ll be his show to run and I expect very big things from him. When all is said and done, Nurse has the potential to be one of those defenseman who doesn’t really have any holes in his game. He’s the complete package and I think he’s the 2nd defenseman off the board after Seth Jones.
- Stats (OHL): 68, 12-29-41
- NHLE: 82, 4-11-15
The brilliant Eric T. also has some interesting info in regard to opposition faced (Nurse faced 2nd toughs) and it is here.