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2019 Copper And Blue Top 25 Under 25: #4 - Darnell Nurse

Darnell Nurse turned heads last season and will look to cash in as he enters a contract year

When you look back at Edmonton’s 2013 NHL Draft, there isn’t much to look at.

Outside of the first round the team picked up two promising players in Bogdan Yakimov and Anton Slepyshev, but both players failed early on and fled to Russia. It was definitely a down year as far as the Oilers amateur scouting department is concerned.

Yet, there is still something that can be salvaged from that disappointing draft class. While the team’s later picks were underwhelming there was tons of excitement surrounding Edmonton’s 1st round selection of Darnell Nurse.

Nurse was coming off a fantastic 41pt season in the OHL and was among one of the best defenders in the CHL. Combine this with the fact that Nurse was Edmonton’s highest drafted defenceman since Paul Coffey was chosen 6th in 1980....the hype machine in Edmonton was working overtime.

Since being drafted Darnell Nurse has played exactly 279 games in an Edmonton uniform and has become one of the team’s most reliable blue liners. So, without any further ado lets dive into the career of Darnell Nurse and what can be expected of him this coming season!

Who Is Darnell Nurse?

If you’re an Oilers fan, you know exactly who Darnell Nurse is.

In his short time as an Oiler, Darnell has established himself as a tough as nails defender that isn’t afraid to mix it up from time to time. In some ways he is a throwback to defencemen like Scott Stevens or Chris Pronger (no I am not equating Nurse to either).

I think this can easily be summed in the infamous Roman Polak incident that occurred in March of 2018. Nurse basically jumps Polak in response to a play that happened earlier in the game that ended up in Matt Hendricks. For the most part this wasn’t the smartest of plays by Nurse but it is an excellent example of his fierce style of play and his ability to intimidate opponents. Oh, and how could I forget the iconic “BEAT HIS ASS” moment!

Apart from his *ahem* “fighting ability” there is plenty to like about how Nurse maneuvers the defensive end of the rink. His rugged stature makes him a force to be reckoned with along the boards and is known to lay a devastating hit from time to time. Nurse is also great at breaking up cycles in the defensive zone as well. That isn’t to say that his defensive play is free of flaws. There has been numerous occasions where Nurse has blown coverage and allowed opponents to get clean shots toward the net. His vision needs to improve if he wants to become one of the more premier defenders in the league.

When it comes to his offensive game, there are still some questions that need to be answered. Nurse put up a career high 41pts last season, good enough to lead Edmonton’s d-core. He stepped up in a big way and was able to get good quality shots toward the net as well as improve his passing. However, Nurse still needs to improve on his decision-making. Oftentimes Nurse will decide to rush the puck or pinch at inopportune times, leaving his defensive partner scrambling.

There is still lots for Darnell Nurse to work on this coming season, but if he takes another step forward this season we could start to hear about him being the team’s best defender.

Why At #4?

This is a list that is very hard to make.

As we get closer and closer to #1 it gets increasingly difficult to rank players such as Darnell Nurse. On one hand he has had plenty of NHL experience and has shown tremendous potential to be something special in this league. Yet, on the other hand, there might be players who have yet to play in the NHL for an extended period of time that you can’t deny a higher spot due to the overwhelming amount of potential that they possess.

The thing that should be taken from this ranking is that Darnell Nurse is a very important part of this team’s future. He plays a type of style that has been missing from the Oilers since Sheldon Souray (in his prime of course) and Chris Pronger. His intense physical play is able to strike fear into opposing teams and his fantastic skating aids him in rushing the puck and being an offensive force. At his very best, Darnell Nurse is the best of both worlds.

If he can take another step forward this season...the NHL better watch out.

Stay Tuned!

Hockey is so close I can nearly taste it!

September has finally rolled around and that means that we are in the homestretch of this year’s Top 25 Under 25!

Tomorrow we will get to see who sits at #3 and you won’t wanna miss it!