The Edmonton Oilers have chosen to hold on to their seventh overall draft pick, and have selected Darnell Nurse.
Here’s Red Line Report on Nurse:
Has huge upside. Big and strong with great upper body strength despite still being a beanpole. Wait until he adds a few pounds to that hulking 6’5" frame. He’s just miserable to play against now: throws opponents around with authority and plays a mean, nasty game. Throws big hits both along the boards and in open ice. Has a very long stride and reach with good lateral movement. Plays a positionally steady game in own end. Strong penalty killer who uses his body/stick to eliminate shooting and passing lanes. Cleans men out in front of net. Clears rebounds and ties up his check preventing second chances. Can be a dominant force and top pairing shutdown defender. Offensive game emerged in 2nd half. Started moving up into the rush decisively, showing good timing and instincts. Makes a good first pass and skates with his head up, looking to make plays. Also shows recovery speed.
Red Line had him eighth overall on their list, but projects him as a top-pairing defenceman at the NHL level.
Jason Gregor had a great interview with Nurse earlier this month.
Also of interest: Darnell Nurse faced among the toughest competition of any defenceman in major junior in this year’s draft.
This is something of a surprise, as the expectation was that Edmonton would select Valeri Nichushkin, the 6’4" winger who was projected by some as a top-five pick. Instead, they choose a player who is a good fit for long-term need – a big, strong shutdown defenceman with puck-moving ability. While Nurse is a strong fit for need, it would be a major shock if he played in Edmonton this season; like most defencemen picked at this stage of the draft additional seasoning in junior is almost certainly the prudent course of action.
This is a big add for the Oilers organization. It’s just going to take a few years to pay off.