Darnell Nurse focused on earning a spot with the Oilers

8 Comments

Darnell Nurse will either play in the National Hockey League, or he’ll go back to the junior ranks.

Nurse doesn’t turn 20 years of age until Feb. 4, 2015, so he isn’t eligible to play in the minors. So, again, the only options are sticking with the Edmonton Oilers, or going back to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL.

At an imposing 6’4″ and 205 pounds, he certainly has the size for the big-league game. Taken seventh overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, the question now becomes will the Oilers keep him up in the NHL for his development, or will it benefit Nurse more to go back to the Greyhounds, where he’d play in every game, in every situation and rack up substantial minutes compared to what he might get if he were to be kept in Edmonton.

As was pointed out in the Edmonton Journal, the Oilers do have the option of playing Nurse in nine NHL regular season games, before deciding whether he stays in Edmonton or goes back to junior.

“For me, honestly, I’m just trying to earn myself a spot on the Oilers. That’s my main focus until they tell I have it or I don’t,” said Nurse, who is with the Oilers prospects for the Young Stars Tournament hosted by the Vancouver Canucks.

“That’s something that goes on as camp comes along, and just see what point I’m at once we start playing exhibition games.”

Nurse was called up to the Oklahoma City Barons in the AHL late in that club’s regular season and for the playoffs.

He had one assist in four regular season games with the Barons, and one assist in three playoff games. But, on a more important note, he got his first true taste of the speed and style of professional hockey.

“It’s a lot of help. It’s a lot different from playing against boys in junior. You’re playing against men who do it for a living,” he said.

“I think whenever you have to adjust to that size and speed, it not only helps you as a player during the games but what to expect the year coming up.”