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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.

OFFENSE

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.

    • Retsinnab5

      To be fair, every team says each of their top D prospects are ‘another Pronger’. I swear I heard the same thing about Trouba. Can’t be 30 Prongers in the league there bud.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    Nurse would have made the Buffalo team as well I’m guessing. He made ours in terms of play as well, but that increased role he’s going to get will only make him more complete. Great pick. Please don’t get injured.

  • Geitus Maximus

    Oilers did the right thing sending nurse back. They should have done the same with Gagner. It never hurt Eberle. Let nurse gain 30lds . Get him to watch kung fu movies and eat raw steak. We need this kid turn into Pronger, spit, 2.0.

    • Lowetide

      This is a great point, Eberle should be the poster child (boy? man?) for staying in junior. When you go #1 overall it’s a different matter (or could be) but for Nurse the best play is to dominate the OHL. It’s a helluva league.

  • Dave "Killer" Carlson

    I’m a bit disappointed LT. ScarJo was just named Esquire’s Sexiest Woman Alive and no feature in the article? I assumed you’d be on top of these things.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Quite a few of the top 15 selections getting in a 9 game audition. Should be interesting to see how many stick. Good thing the Oilers sent Nurse back so soon. There’s no way we’d want to mess with the mojo we got going on so far.

    • StHenriOilBomb

      Would you rather expose him to the “mojo” of these first 3 of his probably max 9 games?

      Keep him away from the toxic stench that’s still thick in these parts.

      How much better do you think the team will be with Nurse in it?

      How much better do you think Nurse will be by sticking around?

      Is it worth the extra year of his entry contract?

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Being one of the top 6 defenders at training camp, one would believe he deserved a 9 game look see. The Oilers are always in need of a big hit, a scrap or even perhaps a goal. All possibilities with his skillset (the devine spark could come in many different ways) tonight it happened to be a ppg.

        Not at all concerned when his elc kicks in. There’s always room for a kid who can contribute. Felt he deserved a shot with NHL caliber players surrounding him, as well as opposing him. Let him have that one NHL paystub to wet his appetite.

        How much worse do you believe it would’ve gotten (if he stayed) after this past week?

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

          Respectfully……I think most fans and observers were more concerned about the potential for injury with a not fully physically developed young man playing against the Raffi Torres’s of the world…kind of a risk reward analysis.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Isn’t it odd they didn’t apply that same train of thought to the 3 first overall selections? Hopkins and Hall, both with major shoulder injuries to date. How come these guys were treated different, were they less important than 7th overall Darnell Nurse?

            I know you wouldn’t steer me down the wrong path ORG, but did the truth change somewhere along this road? Lowes Wing and a Prayer Management Group (WPMG) has its pitfalls I think.

            #justmorebaitforharryorg

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

            You could say its a little odd. Personally, I think they were a bit desperate. But that’s just my opinion and it’s all hind sight now. As I recall they’re stated rationale/ litmus test was calculating whether or not each of the kids could/ would benefit from another year in junior in terms of the development of their skills. Or, alternatively, if they were so far superior to their piers in junior that the only place that afforded them the opportunity for growth.was professional hockey. Like I said, I think they were acting, at least in part, out of desperation.

            I also think they thought that the league was cracking down on cheap shots, hitting from behind, high sticking, fighting etc….too the point that they were paving the way for drafted players to enter the league at a younger age.

            As for Nurse, either they learned their lesson like Bucknuck suggests, or they are just a little less desperate, or they believe the conventional wisdom that defence men take longer to mature.

            Wherever the truth may lie, it is not unreasonable to question their judgement. In fact it is useful and even necessary..so good on ya for that.

            At the very least I think you and I will both be happy if Nurse is on the roster next year. As for this year we’ll have to agree to disagree…as they say.

          • The Oilers Shot Clock

            Selective hindsight when every first overall pick plays in the NHL the year they were drafted. The last who didnt was Johnson was it not? This isn’t an idea exclusive to the Oilers but you word it like it is.

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

            You make a valid point and it gives weight to your argument. But I think it’s still rational/ reasonable to question, even if everyone is doing it (i.e. Playing their first overall picks on the big club in year one), in hind sight would you have given Hall, or Ebbs, or Nuge, or Yak or Gagner, one more year in junior? Any of them?

            I also wonder how much influence agents exert on these decisions?

    • Old School G

      Wow, clearly “Quicksilver ballet” you are a bright lad in a vortex of negativity. My advice is to swim up to the light and all that will be the Oilers…………. soon 🙂