FUTURE WATCH | Darnell Nurse
Darnell Nurse has had a great season and despite roster exclusions by the Oilers and Hockey Canada, he has continued his stellar play and development
The former seventh overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft had a plan after his first NHL training camp ended. First, dominate the OHL with his team, Sault Ste. Marie. Second, get an opportunity to play for Canada's world junior team.
The first part of his plan appears to have come to fruition. Darnell Nurse ranks second in the OHL in scoring among defencemen. His eight goals and 20 assists put him at fourth overall on his team in points with 28. He has been an integral part of the Greyhounds early season success as, through 27 games, they have a record of 19-5-0-3 and sit at second in the Western Conference.
"It's been a good season so far," said Nurse."The best part about it is we're having a lot of team success. I've been put in a position where I have a lot of opportunity to get on the ice and make an impact."
The second part of his plan failed to come to life after finding out on Monday that he had been excluded from the world junior team selection camp.
"It was something that was disappointing but it happened (Monday) so I don't have to worry about it today, to be honest with you."
Hockey Canada took a different approach to their selection this season and Nurse fell victim to the numbers game. In years past, Hockey Canada would invite nearly 40 players to its selection camp before making roster cuts. This year, only 25 players received the nod to attend camp, 22 will participate in the tournament.
"I'm always a motivated player," said Nurse. "There's a lot of motivation and a couple of more people to prove wrong. I'll just go out everyday and play my game and like I said, it's something I don't have to worry about anymore…"
Shortly following the Oilers pre-season victory over the New York Rangers on September 24, the 18-year-old received news that he would return to the OHL for another year of seasoning. Despite what many called 'a strong camp and pre-season' for Nurse, he didn't make the Oilers roster. Edmonton's coaching staff left Nurse with some words of wisdom as he returned to Sault Ste. Marie to continue his development.
|Photos by Getty Images.|
"Just working on my game all around," he said. "It's a different animal when you get up there and play with guys who do this for a living. Just really, go back and put on some weight, fine tune all that and fix up my game and that will help me get to the next level."
The 6-4, 193 pound defenceman took those words to heart, putting on a few extra pounds and continuing to work on his game.
"I think offensively, I've taken my game to a new level. I think there's still a lot of room for improvement. It's an area of my game I've shown a lot of improvement over the summer and it's something I'll continue to work on. Just getting back to basics in the defensive zone and be that hard to play against player every night."
Nurse is one of, if not the top defensive prospect of the Oilers, competing with a now surprisingly deep pool of players like Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, David Musil, Brandon Davidson, Taylor Fedun etc. Despite his high potential and the excitement surrounding him, Nurse knows he still has work to do to get ready for NHL duty, as soon as next season.
"I think defensive positioning and reading rushes, things like that. There are parts of my game I am still working on. I continue to get better on a weekly basis. I started putting a lot of focus on watching video and working with coaches after practice to really tighten up those gaps in my game."
Despite the disappointments he's been faced with this season, whether it is getting cut for the first time in his young hockey career, or it's being snubbed by Hockey Canada for world juniors, Darnell Nurse is here to persevere. Going back to item one on his 'to-do list', has Nurse dominated his league since returning to the OHL?
"I think I've had a really strong season so far," he said. "There's always room for improvement for me, but so far this season there's no real regrets or anything that I would do differently. I think I've put myself in position where I can be mentioned with some of the top defencemen in the league. I'm just going out every night and trying to prove myself."
Nurse will get another chance to make the Oilers roster out of camp next season, and he is already focused on that task.
Barons Player Stats | AHL Standings | Barons Schedule | Past Prospect Stats: 2012-13 | 2011-12
Stats Updated as of Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. MST
|d||19||29||2||6||8||3||43||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|f||18||26||16||12||28||10||30||CALGARY HITMEN (WHL)|
|DARNELL NURSE||D||18||26||8||20||28||5||49||SAULT STE. MARIE (OHL)|
|F||18||30||13||10||23||-7||30||VANCOUVER GIANTS (WHL)|
|f||19||18||4||8||12||0||31||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|F||19||27||17||10||27||12||78||EDMONTON OIL KINGS (WHL)|
|F||18||27||7||6||13||-1||12||LONDON KNIGHTS (OHL)|
|F||24||23||4||5||9||1||59||JOKERIT HELSINKI (FINLAND)|
|F||19||31||3||0||3||0||6||NIZHNY NOVGOROD (RUSSIA)|
|26||8||3||4||1||2.40||.925||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|LAURENT BROSSOIT||20||5||2||2||0||2.87||.899||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|TYLER BUNZ||21||4||1||1||1||3.15||.914||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|22||N/A||n/a||n/a||n/a||N/A||N/A||HPK HAMEENLINNA (FINLAND)|