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:


  • EV 5, 0-1-1 .200
  • PP 5, 1-2-3 .600
  • PK 5, 0-1-1 .200


  • 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.


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).


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.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    They did the right thing sending Nurse back down. Detroit has the best model for developing young talent. There is no coincidence that all their players that Detroit pick later in the rounds end up being solid NHL players.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      Why emulate Detroit and not Chicago or Pittsburg that bought their stars in from Junior ? You know why Detroit takes longer ? They draft high each year and never get a talent like us or others so that they can bring them in right away . It simply takes longer to develop later picks is the answer .

    • The Oilers Shot Clock

      Not true. Detroit strikes out as much as anybody else. They actually haven’t hit a homerun since Franzen, and he’s the only one in that draft class to even play an NHL game. 2007 and 2008 were horrible draft years as well. Absolute duds. I think their reputation precedes them a bit at the draft. The Zberg and Datsyuk picks are near 15 years old now.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    15 goals against in 3 games , and one has to wonder if this years overall defence and goaltending is even worse than last years .

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    I take umbrance at the suggestion that most people wanted to take Nichushkin…why would a team overstacked with quality top 6 forwards take another one when the glaring holes in this team are in the backend?

    I think most people thought it was a no-brainer to take the defenceman.

    Darnnell (barring injury) should be playing here next year.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      I’m not sure it was a no brainer to take a defensemen. I think the decision was made easier by the TYPE of defensemen Nurse is. I don’t think they’d have taken Roustalainen etc in front of Nichushkin

      But if your point is specifically Nurse…then yes I agree.

  • I personally still cannot believe they took Nurse in the draft. I did a little research prior to the draft and I desperately wanted the Oilers to take him, mostly B/C our D needed improvement and Nurse is a beast. Sending him down was the correct call. You can argue that they should have done the same with Hall, EBS, Nuge and Yaks, I think a year in the minors for each of them would have been tremendous down the line but it is what it is. Now we can start drafting and DEVELOPING our future stars and every year add another crucial piece to the organization. It took a while but the Oilers are finally on the right track!

  • StHenriOilBomb

    Hey Quick, Nurse’s development seems to be a hot issue for you.

    I’m curious about a few things. Forgive me if you’ve answered these somewhere.

    1)If you’re running the team, who do you demote to make way for Nurse during his 9 or more games?

    2)Do you believe that it is in the team and player’s best interest over the LONG TERM to have Nurse developing in Edmonton this year? WHY?

    3)What do you believe should have happened with the three first overall picks? Should they have entered the league in their draft years?

    • Quicksilver ballet

      1) I let the play of the team alone make that decision. If they were 6-3,7-2 and Darnell is contributing during those 9 games, then he stays. If it’s all dogs breakfast (actual, like it is now) then he goes down after that 9. Grabeshkov starts in OKC rather than hiding here on the IR.

      2) Yes, the Oilers are flat out desperate for anyone who can play. Without the burden of any offensive expectations he’d be fine. He’d certainly benefit living in a mans environment NHL. I don’t see any benefit having him go back and shoot fish in a barrel with a bunch of kids. The kid has a wealth of experience behind him (Nurse sr and his uncle McNabb) to help deal with being a professional at an earlier age.

      3) Similar to your second question, yes. The Oilers had a team (2010-2012)that would’ve struggled in the AHL. They had vacancies at every position. Based on Darnells T/C, he deserved a 9 game trial.