Leading up to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Sunday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.
Darnell Nurse (D)
Height: 6’4 Weight: 185 Shoots: Left
Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 4 among North American skaters
What kind of player is he?
Much like Seth Jones, Darnell Nurse grew up in a family full of high-end athletes. His parents played at high levels, yet you might know his uncle the best: former Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb.
He shares other similarities with Jones, as he also draws plenty of Chris Pronger comparisons. That makes sense as most regard him as an outstanding stay-at-home defenseman. (Some evoke the names Shea Weber and Dion Phaneuf instead, so the theme is size, physicality and a healthy helping of nastiness.)
He’s shown a decent amount of offensive skill, scoring 12 goals and 41 points in 68 games during his second season at the junior level.
Still, the main draw will likely come from a team looking for a bruising blueliner with prototypical size and the kind of bloodlines that imply something special.
Greyhounds head coach Sheldon Keefe told Hockey’s Future that Nurse is part of a “new wave” of defensemen.
“When you talk about those top-level NHL defensemen, he has the potential to do that,” Keefe said. “But when you look at all the different tools that he brings to the table, he really is the next wave of defensemen coming into the NHL — these natural athletes, these top guys. You saw how he performed at the Top Prospects Game, how well he did … you usually don’t see those results from big guys. I think he’s got a lot of tools that are going to bring some very interesting options for the team that’s lucky enough to draft him.”
For more 2013 NHL Draft previews, click here.