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Nurse thinks he’s close to making Oilers’ roster

Jul 5, 2014, 10:32 PM EDT

2013 NHL Draft - Portraits Getty Images

When the Edmonton Oilers selected defenseman Darnell Nurse seventh overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, they probably weren’t expecting him to crack their roster until the 2014-15 season, if not later. That doesn’t mean that the blueliner isn’t shooting for a role with the big club.

Rising fast

That said, the 19-year-old seemed to show some self-awareness about his development, which he relayed to the Edmonton Journal.

“Everyone wants to play as fast as possible,” Nurse said. “Playing last year probably wouldn’t have been the best for my development, and you probably take it a little harder when you first get sent down but for me I’m just going to put myself in a position where I’m in the best shape possible and as strong as I can be when September rolls around.”

“I’m close. For sure. I’ve been pushing myself this year to different lengths than I ever have.”

That same article notes that he’s bumped his weight up from 190 to about 205 lbs. thanks to an offseason that’s been friendlier to training than his first summer in the Oilers organization.

A logjam on D?

Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins seems open-minded about the idea, although he also seems leery of setting players up for failure by rushing them too soon. (Some Oilers fans might be sadly nodding their heads right now, as many believe that the organization has been guilty of doing just that in the past.)

Ultimately, the Edmonton Sun’s assessment that there are too many NHL-ready defensemen in front of Nurse is probably most accurate.

The Oilers added Mark Fayne, Nikita Nikitin and Keith Aulie via free agency and also have players like Andrew Ference, Justin Schultz and Jeff Petry (RFA) standing most obviously in Nurse’s way (not to mention other system players who may be deemed more “NHL-ready”).

There’s also the question of whether the 19-year-old would be better served as a lower-pairing or even seventh defenseman with the Oilers or by gaining another year of experience at the junior level. Add that conundrum to the drive not to burn a year off of his entry-level deal and it’s easy to see why Edmonton might want to take the slow-and-steady approach.

As much a Nurse wants to make the team next season, the most realistic path seems to lean toward a rookie year in 2015-16. It’s really just a matter of time, however, as he’s already considered the team’s top prospect in some quarters.

  1. luz56 - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    I am pretty sure he could start there with the garbage they threw on the ice last year ..Give him another year rather than rushing him in.. Hate to see them destroy another talent..

  2. c9castine - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:24 AM

    youd have to think at some point edmonton is going to be really good.right?

    • pj608 - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:45 AM

      You would hope so….

  3. luz56 - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:34 AM

    Not sure they ever will with Lowe and Convicted Killer MacTavish running the show … Ever been to the City if Excuses? Not much there except highway 2 south to Calgary or 63 to FtMac

  4. pj608 - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    My 5 year old dog could make Edmonton’s roster next season… So whats the point?

  5. yungslimdaballa - Jul 6, 2014 at 2:26 AM

    ah hope he make it in da league. he got patential

    • pj608 - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:04 PM

      Learn English buddy… “its da sheet”

  6. watermelon1 - Jul 6, 2014 at 3:19 AM

    I see what they did there in the title… Not using his full name and all.

  7. ray2013 - Jul 6, 2014 at 6:20 AM

    He should have the confidence to make it, but I doubt he’d even be the first call-up. There’s another highly touted dman named Klefbom who is trying to break in. He would have to be something special to beat out Klefbom and one of those established players.

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