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Photo Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Darnell Nurse talks about the upcoming season

Over at Sportsnet, they posted a quick media scrum with Darnell Nurse at the Biosteel Camp where he spoke about his own progression, Oilers expectations, and having the dynamic duo locked in for the next eight years.

If there’s one thing that the Oilers have been asked thousands of times during this offseason it’s whether or not they know that expectations of them have been raised after last year’s playoff appearance. As you’d expect, Nurse confirmed that the players have also set the bar a little bit higher as they head into the 2017-18 season.

“Our expectations are a little higher than they were coming into last season.”

No surprise here. They have to have higher expectations because just making the playoff dance can’t be a finish line anymore. The fans expect more, and the rest of the league will too. Go on…

“We want to be a contender every year now and we have to expect to be a strong team from start to finish.”

The start of this season will be huge for this team and I’m happy he mentioned it. With Andrej Sekera being out for a couple of months to start the year, guys like Nurse will have to step their games up to make sure that there’s no lull or drop in defensive coverage. Having a quick start is crucial. Full stop. Needs to happen.

“The greatest motivator of all is having been through that (playoff) experience. For us, we definitely weren’t satisfied.”

I’m glad ol’ Darryl wasn’t satisfied because I wasn’t either. I remember being at the Pint during Game 7 and hugging a bar full of strangers after the Oilers got bumped. Personally, I’d rather hug strangers due to happiness, not sadness.

What else?

“We continue to grow together. Everyone took steps last year and we’re a really tight group. That’s a big advantage.”

I’ve said it a million times but playing for the other guys in the dressing room rather than the name on the back of your jersey is the kind of commitment and sacrifice that teams need in order to win. That said, and it’s something we all know from past rebuilds, being friends with the other guys on the team doesn’t matter nearly as much as wins on the board.

“We spend a lot of time together, work a lot together after practices, so as long as we continue to work, there’s a lot of room to grow and it’s another exciting part of being with the Oilers.”

Now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder what kind of stuff these guys get up to in their private time? Are they doing the same boring shit as the rest of us or is there always something cooler going on? I mean, I spent last night trying to find my fidget spinner and drinking wine from a box, so I can’t help but hope that they’re getting up to something more meaningful.

Anyway…

“I’m going to be well-prepared coming into camp. Our coaching staff is always pushing us to be better and they give us opportunities when we earn them.”

I’m happy to see that Darryl is doing his homework before the new season rolls around and I hope he’s putting just as much work in the video room as he is in the gym. There were times that he looked lost out there and I’m hoping that having a few more at-bats will help him make better decisions on the ice. Like I said, the Oilers will need him to step up in a big way.

“It’s my plan to go in there highly motivated and ready to take on more.”

Ready or not, you’ll have to take on more, my friend. The Sekera injury is here and the minutes will have to get filled so there will be an added element of big-minute pressure that a young guy like Nurse will have to work through. I think he has the tools to make the jump, and I’m hopeful that we’ll see the next evolution in his game as he takes on more responsibility.

On McDavid and Draisaitl…

Apr 9, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) celebrates Draisaitl’s third period goal against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place. The goal marked McDavid’s 100th point of the season. The Oilers won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

It wouldn’t be an Oilers summer presser without asking about Connor and Leon, and Darnell shared his excitement about having both guys locked in with term.

“For us, as a team, it’s definitely exciting. Especially knowing that two of the top players in the league are going to be there for a long time.”

It’s nice to see that Darryl knows who butters the bread around here. Connor and Leon are the two pillars of the organization at this point, and it’s nice to know that their teammates are just as excited as the fans are that they’ll be around for, at least, the next eight years.

“It motivated everyone to continue to work and try and be a part of that for a long time.”

Good, I’m glad you said that you want to be around for a long time. Unfortunately, having both of these guys locked in at max term means that there’s less pie to go around so I hope you’re just as excited about being an Oiler when contract time comes knocking. That said, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Thanks for the update, Darryl.

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