Edmonton Oilers’ fans are going to get a good look at the future this afternoon, as Team Canada meets Team USA at the World Juniors. For your viewing pleasure: Darnell, plus the 1-2 punch of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. All nationalism aside, it’s going to be a barn burner!

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Canada takes its hockey seriously, and since the John Carlson OT goal in 2010 facing the USA has a history involving pain. This year’s WJs has gone according to plan for Canada but the truth is only one game during the prelims means anything and that happens today.

Beat USA! Prepare the fury!!!

Darnell Nurse was a big part of the win against Finland, playing big minutes and defending sorties with aplomb. He closes gaps quickly and has the wingspan of a wandering albatross. 

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To my eye, Nurse is being used in a different manner with Team Canada than he’s deployed in Sault Ste. Marie. To borrow from Josh W’s fine work at NHL Numbers, here’s what he had to say before the tournament about the defender:

  • Josh W: Nurse faces slightly above average competition while he is getting help from very
    strong teammates. The elder statesman on the blueline has very heavy
    special teams time with middling even strength ice time while sporting a  slightly negative -5.04%
    even-strength relative goal-for%. Source

During the preliminary round, Nurse appears (imo) to be facing the tougher opponents and is in what we might call a shutdown role. If he’s been on the PP it hasn’t been often and one suspects this might be the future role Nurse plays in the NHL (when he arrives).

He’ll be a big part of the Canadian blue this afternoon.


I haven’t seen much of Jack Eichel this season and lordy this WJ’s has been an eye opening experience. Eichel has across the board skills and seems to be around the puck constantly. I’m shocked to see a guy with his size and skill also possess a motor that won’t quit. He’s going to be a fun player for the team that drafts him.

As everyone knows, McDavid entered the tournament coming off a long term injury and isn’t exactly at the top of his game. It’s obvious he’s an exceptional passer and highly creative but I’m hoping he really pushes it today and we see a glorious one-on-one between the two men. 

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This is a big damn day for hockey in Canada and a big damn glimpse into the Oilers future. Darnell Nurse looks like a really big piece of the future and the other two look like they might be franchise cornerstones.

Go Canada! And look at the glorious future that could be on the way for the Oilers. Some sweet day.

  • Serious Gord

    “And look at the glorious future that could be on the way for the Oilers.”

    You have essentially been saying that since the year hall was drafted.

    Instead oil fans have endured the most miserable years in franchise history.

    One or two (or four) draft picks does not necessarily make for a glorious future – surely you would have learned that by now and have gotten into the habit of curbing your enthusiasm.

    Nurse has played okay. He has steadily gotten more playing time as the tournament has gone on. Not sure why he didn’t get lots of time right away. No way should he be playing much for the oil next year. A full season in the ahl is where he should be.

    Mcdavid certainly hasn’t stood out. The injury issue could be why. The level and intensity of the competition might also be a factor. It will be interesting to see how does against top flight competition.

    Haven’t seen eichel, but be the sounds of the reviews he could be the star of the tournament. A perfect fit for carolina.

  • BubbaZanetti

    Both MaDavid and Eichel have top offensive skill , but both lack defensively . Another standout is Finish 16 year old Jesse Puljujarvi . He looks like he might be better next year than the other two .

    • Edsez

      The young Finn has looked great in what I’ve seen of the tournament, often the best Finn on the ice.
      I’ll take Ferraro and cheering for a team that actually has a chance to win any day. Brief reprieve from the eons of suckage, and Remendaism’s. I’ve been really impressed with Nurse, seems to make the simple play especially when rushing gets the puck in deep and has the speed to get back.
      Went to the Blades vs Pats game last night, Morgan Klimchuk was easily the best player on the ice, scored 2 goals in the 3rd to key a Pats comeback win. Plays in all situations, unfortunately a Flames pick late 1st round from the Iginla trade.
      Gord you should have your own blog……… seriously.

  • Edsez

    Bring relegation to the NHL. So sick of the Oilers wallowing in their filth to gain the top pick and continually making no progress.
    Shameless tanking. And if you don’t think Mac T’s “lack of nhl centers, going with 2 backups, keeping leon up for half a year” is just that than you are kidding yourself and it needs to be penalized
    Just sick of it! Incompetence rewarded. How stereotypically Canadian.
    punt them down a league or 2. You don’t see teams rolling over and bending over in soccer. You fight to the last minute of the season to keep your spot and the sponsorship money

    • Serious Gord

      I am fascinated by the concept of relegation. It makes the bottom end of a league and top end of the league below it much more intense. The chance to get into the bigs for an ahl team and the fear of falling out for the bottom feeder.

      But for it to work i think that the NHL would have to shrink to about 24 teams – and a bunch of other things. (cities like cleveland, kansas city etc would become involved in the second tier). But never say never, especially as more fans in north america become familiar with how the football leagues in europe operate.

      • Zarny

        No, for it to work you would have to convince the majority of 30 owners to vote for them to possibly be relegated to a lower league if they suck.

        Not going to happen. Like ever.

      • CMG30

        Relegation will not work in the NHL. A team needs to generate a certain amount of money to pay the bills and there are not many areas that can outside the Toronto region able to do that. I can’t see Toronto overly enthused about the prospect of multiple NHL teams on their home turf. Besides, with the fees that the owners pay out they are not going to want the chance to lose their investment and will ensure that enough roadblocks are thrown up that no team ever drops down. All this and more is the reason that Premier league football hasn’t seen any movement now for what? Close to a century?

    • Deported to Ottawa

      If you fail to grasp the differences between the NHL and the English soccer pyramid that’s to bad for you.

      Your idea is ridiculous and the words chosen in your post amount to trolling.

    • Just a Fan

      You really believe this or are you just trolling? Have you ever watched high level soccer? There is every chance the final score was agreed upon by the general managers during the pre-game warmup. Don’t every use Soccer as an example of a league run with integrity.

  • Edsez

    Darnell has looked good. His defence, in the tournament games, has looked mistake free and he’s created scoring chances carrying the puck deep into the zone on several end-to-end rushes

    What is Nike trying to sell with those commercials, though?

  • Zarny

    Canada’s strategy makes sense. Smaller-average size D who are more offensively minded like Petan, Morrissey and Theodore get the PP time and you send the 6’4″ brute out to beat on the tough competition at even strength. It’s a Canadian tradition.

    It’s good to see Nurse has progressed to that level of trust with Canada’s coaches. Lots of players have different or defined roles with Team Canada. Nurse’s NHL game will depend on his ability to generate offense in the NHL. It’s not like the Oilers lack a big, strong shutdown D or anything though.

    McDavid and Eichel will be a New Year’s treat. Across the board skills indeed.