We’re just getting started for the 2013-14 season, but there are already some very good signs for 1st round selection Darnell Nurse. He’s ‘as advertised’ as a defenseman, but this year Nurse looked to be a much bigger part of the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds powerplay. 5 games into his season, the results are already obvious.
Last season, Nurse played on a very deep hockey club with two established PP defenders (Ryan Sproul 20-46-66 and Colin Miller 20-35-55), but this year he’s moved up the batting order and is getting a regular turn 5×4. Although it’s extremely early, we can see him getting used differently this season:
2013-14 DARNELL NURSE OFFENSE
- EV 5, 0-1-1 .200
- PP 5, 1-2-3 .600
- PK 5, 0-1-1 .200
2012-13 DARNELL NURSE OFFENSE
- EV 68, 10-17-27 .397
- PP 68, 2-10-12 .176
- PK 68, 0-2-2 .029
The point isn’t to project this over an entire season and get a point total, but rather to confirm what we assumed: Darnell Nurse is getting powerplay time and that will mean a spike in boxcar numbers.
THE NURSE RESUME
Oiler fans got a nice look at Darnell Nurse during the Pentiction rookie series and then regular camp and pre-season. Nurse played so well during pre-season it was tough to send him down although the Oilers made the right call. Jason Gregor wrote about Nurse and his impressive play as an Oiler this fall:
- Gregor: 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.
Nurse is captain of the Greyhounds this season, taking on more responsibility and gaining valuable experience in all three disciplines (EV, PP and PK).
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
There’s still a lot of talk in Oilers Nation about the club passing on Russian winger Valeri Nichushkin, and the player taken just after Nuse (Rasmus Ristolainen) is also in the NHL. Nurse impressed in training camp with his range of skills and overall ability, and this season we’re seeing early signs that he’s having a greater impact in the OHL and getting those special teams minutes.
Darnell Nurse is showing great improvement over last season and could be a contender for a roster spot on the Oilers a year from now. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.