NURSE TO JUNIOR, EAKINS HATES SITTING BACK

Darnell Nurse definitely made an impression in his first NHL camp. His infectious smile and polite demeanor allowed him to fit in off the ice, but it was his on-ice play that impressed his teammates the most. None of the Oilers had ever seen him play before, but his fluid skating stride grabbed their attention the first day of camp.

"He moves incredibly well," Taylor Hall said to me on the second day of training camp. "He’s so smooth for a big man. He’ll be scary when he fills out," continued Hall.

When Hall is impressed by a player’s skating ability, you take notice.

Last Wednesday in Vancouver, Nurse played a dominating 24 minutes vs. the Canucks. He gave management, coaches, teammates and the fans a glimpse of his future potential, and he should go back to Sault Ste. Marie feeling very good about his game.

While Nurse dominated in Vancouver that night, in his other preseason games he was solid. At times he looked his age, and you could see that he’ll need to add some weight to his 6’4" frame, but every game he played he did something that caught your attention.

Even the most pessimistic Oiler fan was impressed by Nurse, and in 12 months I think he’ll be even more impressive.

The Oilers made the right decision to send him to junior. He’ll go back to the OHL, play 25-30 minutes a night, develop his game, improve his strength and he’ll take on more of a leadership role. He’ll be a better player next year, and when he comes to training camp he’ll be focused on making the team.

Prior to the draft I interviewed Nurse, and when I asked him about going straight to the NHL he gave an incredibly honest and mature answer, "I think I need to keep developing my game. There are areas I need to improve on, and I think it would be best for me to play another year in junior."

For Nurse to recognize in the summer that the best thing for him would be another year in junior, shows you why he’ll be successful, but that doesn’t he mean he wasn’t crushed when Eakins told him the news last night.

"If anyone tells you it feels good to get cut, they’re probably lying to you," he said. "It sucks. There’s nothing fun about it but they (Oilers) have the best plan for me and my development. I’m going to go back and dominate my league and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to play in World Juniors," continued Nurse.

I love his attitude. He’ll use this as motivation to become even better. He’ll make a serious push for the World Junior team and that experience will also help his development.

THIS IS A GOOD THING

There is no negative in sending Nurse back to junior, the only negative out of training camp was that we didn’t get to see him play against a complete NHL team. Every game he playe, the opposition had very few proven NHL players. Regardless, that game in Vancouver gave us all a glimpse of his potential. 

He didn’t look out of place, even when the Sedins were on the ice, and the best part was that he didn’t look intimidated at all. You can’t teach confidence, and you can’t teach competitiveness. Nurse has both in abundance, and I can’t wait to see how he looks next September.

THREE MORE CUTS

Tyler Pitlick, Anton Lander and Taylor Fedun were assigned to OKC last night. They will be on the team charter to OKC this morning and all of them will play significant minutes in OKC this season. Fedun continues to improve. He’s an incredibly smart player who rarely makes mistakes. He or Oscar Klefbom will be the first call up, if the Oilers suffer any injuries on the blueline.

Pitlick had the best training camp of his short career. He is close to being an NHL player, and if he can stay healthy this year. and keep improving. he should make a serious push to crack the lineup next season.

Lander wasn’t a factor in training camp. He just never looked comfortable and wasn’t able to stand out in any of the games. If he can get off to a good start and play well, I think there is a good chance he will play some games in Edmonton this season. He needs to be a leader and one of the best players every night in OKC.

***EDIT at 10:00 a.m.***

The Oilers placed Ryan Jones on waivers this morning. If he clears he’ll start the season in OKC. I haven’t seen anything from Ryan Hamilton or Ben Eager that suggests they are better NHL players than Jones, but Jones didn’t have a strong camp and the Oilers do save cap space by keeping Hamilton up and sending Jones down.

Eager brings a completely different element, so I understand why he is here. Hamilton’s footspeed in the preseason was an issue, we’ll see how he looks against NHL lineups. Good for him he worked hard to make the lineup, but I don’t think anyone on the Oilers fourth line is a lock to stay the entire season.

A WELCOME CHANGE

A few things I’ve never understood; how someone thinks Olivia Wilde isn’t hot or why coaches play prevent defence in football or sit back when they have a lead in hockey.  The picture answers the first question, and when I’ve watched the Oilers games this season I’ve noticed a refreshing approach when they have a lead. Eakins wants them to keep pushing forward, rather than sitting on a lead. THANK GOODNESS.

I find when I watch games on TV, even worse on the web, that it is hard to see some of the small nuances of the game. The camera only focuses on the puck carrier, so it’s hard to see what players are doing away from the play. Luckily the Oilers have had the lead for every home game this season, and I noticed early on that they never "sat back" on a lead.

In the first few games I wondered if it was just the quality of the opposition, but after watching last night’s game I was confident the Oilers’ were in fact trying to remain aggressive.

David Perron played in St.Louis the past few seasons, and the Blues have a reputation of protecting leads, so I asked him if Eakins’ message, when protecting a lead was different than what he’d previously experienced. 

He tells us to keep going, and I love it and I think everyone in the room does. I don’t think that other coaches say sit back, but they way they react it says it without saying it. If you read between the lines, it is pretty easy to figure out that (sitting back) is what they want from the team. 

If you are up 3-2, yeah you need to be smart, but even if you are down 1-0 you need to be smart. It is the same game all the time, and I like that. Dallas wants us to learn to play the same game; in the preseason, the regular season and then when we get in the playoffs we won’t be as nervous. 

It is refreshing to hear that a coach is constantly telling his team to push forward, and it is equally good to hear a player already thinking about the playoffs. That is the type of attitude the Oilers need.

After speaking with Perron, I asked Eakins about his gameplan to never stop attacking. 

It kills me. It makes me crazy. I was getting ready to check myself in in the third period because we started to sit back and I don’t understand  why you would. After having great success for two periods by pushing the pace, and limiting their time and space, why would we suddenly give them time and space when the otherwas working for us. I feel the best way to defend a lead is to score a goal. That’s the way to do it. To sit back and give them chance after chance doesn’t make sense to me. 

There are things we can do in practice to work on that, but that is more of a mentality. We have to plant the seed, then start taking great care of that seed and watering it every day, and that’s what we are going to do here. That is the one thing I didn’t love about the game, because we started to sit back in the third period. 

When the regular season begins and the games matter, if the Oilers are sitting back on a lead, don’t blame the coach. He’ll be just as frustrated and perplexed as you if his team stops pushing forward. I’m curious to see how long it takes before the players are confident enough not to sit back.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR  

  • Jason Gregor

    Your comment about watching a game on TV and it’s limitations is something I think about on a regular basis and something i wait patiently for the future to change. We have such incredible technology available to us yet us, as viewers, are at the mercy of the production of the tv station we are obligated to watch.

    I’ve seen multi-camera options online as many as 6 years ago. The NBA offered it a long time ago and I still cant believe it hasnt expanded.

    I made an infographic for my job (we have a blog i run) and I put as many ideas i could into it.

    http://visual.ly/future-how-we-watch-hockey

    Basically i feel that we should be able to control which of the several camera angles are available at any given time. I would like to watch the powerplay from behind the net WHEN I CHOOSE TO.

    I would also love to have access to any of thenumerous microphones around the rink – or better yet, one on the refs or players.

    The product of watching sports on tv/online has plenty of room to grow. Billions of dollars to be made as well.

    • Tikkanese

      I love the camera from behind the net angle. I wish the entire game was from that angle! You get to see the play develop as the players see it. They can revert to the 1940’s side angle for replays on offsides as that is really all that it is good for.

      • If you saw the Toronto-Buffalo brawl the other night, you may have noticed 2 of the ref’s were wearing Go Pro helmet cams. I couldn’t find and footage from the game from the refs angle online, but I did find a video from a Detroit Exehibition game that had one ref wearing a Go Pro.

        Go to google, and search “Detroit Referee Go Pro”. You should get several links to the video.

        I love the view on faceoffs, and from the goal line as the play moves towards the net.

    • Chaz

      I couldn’t agree more. I’ve often said if the NHL could just borrow the Monday Night Football crew for a couple of weeks I’m sure they’d revolutionize the way we watch hockey. They should have hundreds of small cameras built into the boards all around the rink to show any possible angle. They should also play live audio feeds even if this means having parental warnings.

      I hate the fact that Sportsnet who cover most of the Oilers games are so far behind with the times. Nothing like watching an amazing rush by Hall only to have the telecast switch to a Canadian Tire Zamboni going across the screen instead of a replay, or some blurb about Score and win. I realize advertisers generate revenue, but it shouldn’t have an overly negative effect on the broadcast. Thank God for PVR.

      In my mind, they should do like soccer; show the entire period with no ads. TV timeouts has ruined the flow of hockey.

  • Doomoil

    Gregor, I`ll take Olivia Munn over Olivia Wilde every time. OW is just okay-hot.

    As far as Eakins pushing the pace, I totally agree. It`s been frustrating watching the Oilers for the past few seasons because it has lacked aggression. There has never been much of a forecheck, and I think the intensity Eakins is demanding will create a lot of turnovers in the offensive zone.

    I`m pumped for Oct 1. The Oil will be in tough to make the playoffs, but it`s finally going to be fast paced hockey.

    • Maverick007

      “OW is just okay-hot”

      How dare you???? Olivia Wilde is gods gift to mere mortals like you and me. We should be building temples in her honor.

      *packs shotgun and shovel for road trip to Kelowna*

        • You know, I get the whole “Troll” thing. I really do. Going for the worst negative Dakin every single article must be quite a treat for you, despite it being incredibly easy and of course, ridiculously shallow. But still, the rewards must be worth it, right?

          Still, I can’t for the life of me wonder why you’d want to be known (if only online) as a complete d!ck.

          But I imagine the constant “negative fame” on a fan hockey site is still better than the reality you probably have to wake up to everyday, right?

          #SucksToBeYou

          • Quicksilver ballet

            I hear you David. It’s just hockey tawk BS.

            Don’t you think you’re cheating yourself even just a little to maintain that ever so popular plastic image many here try to keep? Why not just be honest and call a spade a spade once in a while. After what we’ve seen the last 8 yrs, you STILL feel the Oilers are above criticism?

            I don’t know if it’s a fault of mine, but I don’t need anyones approval. Try being your own man, and not the guy you think people want you to be. As you grow older and more self confident, you too, will learn to not care jack ship about what someone thinks about you. I’ve been self employed for the last 30 yrs, so my opinion could appear jaded to some. Never been In a position where I needed someone to like me. Take the rocky road sometime David. There are far fewer sheep in your way.

            #growapairdude- or should I say mam?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    A line of Mike Brown, Eager and Smack is the definition of filthy. Light, heavy, and super heavy weight. You got 3 players who will be able to bring the boom when and as needed to pukes like Ott and suchlike. Won’t be any of the bitching that Toronto did the other night after their guy got his asked kicked by a Sabre player. 3 different weight categories. Pick the guy who needs tuning in and send over the appropriate player to do the tuning. Smack may have limited opportunities for tuning but I’d rather have him on my team than someone else’s. Brown and Eager will be able to give us grit and energy. Push back when we need it.

      • abbeef

        I think this line would be brutal as well but Eager is not slow at all, he is faster than Omark. All three should never be dressed for the same game as that line would give the opposition a huge advantage,

        • Tikkanese

          You could dress all 3 guys against calgary and vancouver, no law says you have to roll 4 lines unless the going gets tough. Kids are plenty young enough to play 20 mins each.

      • Wax Man Riley

        Actually, Brown and Eager are pretty good skaters. Omark is not an NHL player…. obviously. He has a league minimum contract (or close to it), and he just cleared waivers. that means EVERY team in the NHL had a chance to get him for nothing or next to nothing.

        Yet here he is… in the AHL.

  • Maverick007

    @Gregor,

    Hey man I gotta give you props for Olivia Wilde. You made my day today when I saw her. Shes been my wallpaper for over a year lol. Have you seen “Rush”?

    Do you think theres a slight chance the Oil offer sheet Derek Stepan?

  • Maverick007

    I for one was glad when they picked nurse in the draft. People were clammering for a top 2 defencemen with size that would play hard. Well there he is. We just have to wait now.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Change is the one constant in life. Why the need to cling to all the old traditions of decades past? Training camp was a 3 week opportunity to prepare for October 1st. Lloyd Christmas had a better shot of making this team than most of these kids who were just in the way during camp. No need to waste all this time separating the fact and fictional possibilities on this roster.

  • Ducey

    Capgeek has the Oilers as having $1.648 M in Cap room. They have adjusted for Jones but not for a few others.

    When we take into account the moves in the last 24 hrs we get:

    Off the books: Lander $900,000 Eager $125,000 (for his buried contract)

    Added salary: Hamilton $600,000 Eager $1,100,000 Arcobello $600,000 Acton $680,000

    Adjusted Cap room: $-307,000

    What am I missing? It looks like they are over the Cap. Maybe Nuge and Gagner qualify for LTIR?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Ben Eager has the wheels to play on any line, I think that’s why he’s still here. Eakins will give Ben a role he can succeed in rather than force him to be the player the last coach/GM wanted him to be. With the blender about to be used extensively this season, I’d kinda like to see someone/anyone slide in between Nail Yakupov and Ben Eager. Eberle,Hall,Acton,Arcobello,etc… let each one of them have a go between these two. What do they have to lose, other than another hockey game.

  • Dan 1919

    Shultz, Ference. Smid, Petry. Shultz, Belov

    We will actually have competitive dmen this year. Looking at that roster, Petry and N.Shultz are the likely guys to be cycled in and out if they for example… pass the puck to the goal net and give it away in their own zone resulting in a goal against (Petry) on what should be a very simple pass off the boards for a millionaire playing hockey.

    The D-men this year will need to be very careful not to loose their spot for a game or two, because Larsen or Fedun will take that opportunity and likely won’t give it back(more so Fedun)… AKA start trembling if you continue that weak own zone play Petry.

    I like the Jones on waiver move. Eager played with more speed and energy (albeit nothing spectacular), and has WAY more upside if Eakins is able to spark him.

      • Dan 1919

        I was alluding to the fact that an NHL player shouldn’t make a mistake like that. Meaning he’s a millionaire because he’s supposed to be a pro, and not make such an amateur mistake.
        The actual concept of money was irrelevant to my point. I’m sorry you were not able to understand that. It appears money is something you take seriously as you were so perturbed that you had to post a rhetoric. Some of us don’t need it as much as you smart guy 😉

        Overreact and shoot off your mouth out of turn much? That’s why your life is the disappointment it is. Focus on yourself, not other people, because you often are not intelligent enough to comprehend what they are saying.

        • Chaz

          Oh I get it now. Once you become a pro at something you never make a simple mistake?

          So if all you ment was, by being a millionire you are a pro, then why did you say pro millionaire and not just pro?

          Lame excuse

          • Dan 1919

            I’ve explained it once to you and you did not pay attention, I am not going over it again. Get over it and get your conversations back to hockey. I am not going to engage any further in your teenage girl type antics. If you can’t grow up, go find a gossip chat room.

          • Dan 1919

            Get over yourself buddy. Its not hard to understand what you said, you are missing my point. So I will spell it out for you.

            People, whether experianced or not make mistakes all the time. And to suggest that Petry will be “cycled in and out” of the line up is asinine. The oringal post I quoted was a direct slam against a player who, for better or worse, has been the oilers best D-man the past 3 or so years.

            Also I would like to point out, your only responses to me have been slander, while avoiding my questions/comments. So yes I would love for you to stay on topic.

  • LinkfromHyrule

    lol I wonder how often madjam and QSB meet under the bridge to discuss trolling and various troll-related issues. They seem to have formed the legion of trolls in the last little while. Guess we will see how long it takes DSF to join too. That would be some serious troll-power

  • Truth

    I thought that the new CBA made it impossible to hide 1-way contracts in the minors. If I am remembering correctly, this means Jones will count towards the cap unless he gets picked up by another team.

    Edit: Please disregard. I did not realize we were on page 2 and Romulus’ Apotheosis covered this already.

  • brian_d

    2 things, and no, I haven’t read through the monstrous pile of comments, so they may have been touched on:

    1) As much as I love Jones, Joensuu seems like the new and improved. Bangs harder and moves faster

    and

    2) though arguably more important, Olivia Wilde has always been top 5 on my “Chics I would bang if I met them–made possible only if they were by some freak chance horribly drunk” list. That list being topped right now by Serinda Swan.

  • Tikkanese

    I think it says something about Oiler depth and talent this year that players like Omark, Lander, Jones, etc., who were able to crack the lineup in past years, aren’t able to compete this year. And that Nurse isn’t being rushed, but allowed to mature properly. Isn’t that what everybody has been saying good teams do with their draft picks? Are the Oilers, in spite of all the naysayers, becoming that kind of team?

      • Tikkanese

        Its been said before, so I’ll say it again. Name two other teams in any league where if they lost their top 2 C they would be able to fill the roster spots with quality players.

        Hell their are only a handfull of teams that can go on with out their top 2 players. Not saying Gags is top 2, but what if Hall went down that game instead of gags.

  • wiseguy

    Previous posts in discussing Omark being placed on waivers:

    #6 tileguy
    September 14 2013, 11:11AM
    What is interesting is Omark will have to clear waivers to be sent down (I believe) so either he makes the team or he is lost for all time and I can easily see him lighting us up. I still would cheer for him though in different colour silks.”

    “#11 tileguy
    September 14 2013, 11:25AM

    I think this is a little bit more than over-valuing a prospect. No chance in he!! that he clears. (I’ll bet money on that)”

    “#45 Scobydoo
    September 14 2013, 07:09PM

    Omark 1 year 600k = claimed! If he clears, im gonna start sending cristmas-card to Don Cherry!”

  • wiseguy

    I wonder why nobody is pointing towards MacT after having signed Jones to a 1.5 Million deal…that was a bad decision and a waste of money which now could have been invested in a Center. Imagine the noise if Tambellini had done that…

    • Wax Man Riley

      Many were commenting on the terrible signing when he could of had Beniot Pouliot or Mason.raymond for less money,. What was MacT thinking signing a guy for 1.5. For every good move MacT made was an equally stupid one.

      • Wax Man Riley

        Jones does not get claimed on waivers since no team wants him for $1.5M.

        He goes to OKC, works hard, gets his confidence back, and when injuries occur, there he is ready to go dig pucks out of the corner to shovel them in front of the net to nobody.

        He becomes a not bad stopgap player when injuries occur. Jones once proved that he can play in the NHL.

      • bazmagoo

        Couldn’t agree more. I thought Jones at $1.5 million was pretty steep. In my opinion we likely could have had him for $1 million or less. That money could have been better spent on David Steckel, in my opinion.

  • Jason Gregor

    We have 3 top NBR.1 draft picks from last 4 years . We have the so called best depth in prospects in theleague . How in the world can we be only as high as 23rd best in league ?

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Nurse looked pretty bloody impressive. He looked as though he’d be almost as productive as Petry, and that’s still as a teen. Please keep him in a cage, poke him with a stick often and feed him only raw steak. I want this kid to have the taste of Sedin-blood on his tongue when he breaks into the league.

    Lander & Omark, huge disappointments. I was hoping for more. Great, however, to see so much competition for the bottom 9 forward spots and the #3 D-pairing.

    Depth on the Oil???? This is new…..

    Heal up and get back Gags & Nuge! This is a playoff team when healthy.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Also, Nurse’s humble way of speech is seducing me. This kid speaks more eloquently at 18 than Smyth at 37. Get this kid a red carpet. He’ll be the Pronger we always wanted.

  • Thumby

    If Force = mass x acceleration, what will happen to Monoghan in a couple years when a 225lb Nurse comes calling?

    That kid has some kind of sweet skating action going on!

    See you next year Darnell!

  • O.C.

    If this was game 80 of any of the last 5 years, I get the (deserved) slamming of the Oil at all levels.

    But to take such a negative approach before game 1 is in the books?

    “inconceivable”

    The team looks to be finally turning the corner now. The days of JF Jacques being hyped as a reason to spend your $ on a ticket might now be history.

    Might.

    For this team, the window is opening.

    • DSF

      Cuzer, question…. ” finally turning the corner now” ?? Check out the bottom six.. barely got one legit NHL’er there.!

      The depth of this team is not what you think it is. You have two centers out of the line up, and depth guy like Ladner, who has been around for a couple of years can’t fill the crack, and is sent down to the AHL, only to be replaced by another AHL,er.

      • pkam

        Bottom six by November (assuming top six is Hall, Hemsky, Smyth, RNH, Eberle, Perron), is Gordon, Yak, Joensuu, Brown,Eager, Lander, and occasionally Mac. When Gagner returns, Lander drops back.Barely one legit NHLer???Gordon, Yak, Brown and Eager have nearly 1500 NHL games between them.

  • O.C.

    Nah. Prefer to compare the 23 man roster vs previous years.

    And the change by a GM done between the last game of last season to first game of next.

    More importantly, predicting gloom is a bit silly at this point. Give it 10 games anyway.

    Reminds me. If NYR and Vancouver each have worse records than last year, and they likely will, what does that say about the exchange of coaches.

  • DSF offers up a contrarian point of view and I can appreciate that. At the very least least he generates conversation. Some others, I wonder if pissing off commenters on fan sites is the best thing about their day. That’s pretty sad.