Good night Nurse.
Edmonton Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse who surprisingly saw action in four exhibition games when many thought he’d only get one or two as the team’s 2013 first-round draft pick was sent back to his junior team in Sault Ste. Marie after the Oilers’ 5-3 pre-season win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
Nurse played almost 20 minutes and had an assist on Jordan Eberle’s goal going plus 2 in what turned out to be his last pre-season game. But he was a victim of the numbers game. He’s just 18 and the Oilers who are only going to carry seven defenceman don’t see him in their top six and don’t want him being a spectator when he could be playing 30 minutes a night in the Soo.
Still Nurse was clearly stung by the news.
“If anyone thinks it feels good to get cut they’re lying to you. It sucks there’s nothing good about it” said Nurse the seventh overall pick in the 2013 draft who was released along with fellow blueliner Taylor Fedun — who had a terrific camp but has a two-way contract.
Also getting the bad news were centre Anton Lander and winger Tyler Pitlick neither of whom have to clear waivers with Pitlick surprising the coaching staff with his enthusiastic work.
“The Oilers think this is best for my development and I’m going to go back and dominate my league and hopefully play in the world juniors” said Nurse who felt he’d show lots from his tool box — his toughness his ability to move the puck his willingness to take on attacking players.
Nurse didn’t seem awestruck at all but the Oilers in line with the time-honoured tradition of NHL clubs usually send their first-rounders back to junior if they can’t guarantee they’ll be regulars in the toughest league in the world. Nurse needs to be more ice savvy and admitted before being told he was cut that “I made some dumb reads out there” in the Rangers game.
That being said Nurse was as good as advertised at the draft. He could be another Jason Smith with more offensive upside and that would be huge for the Oilers who need more sandpaper on defence.
Nurse said he had never been cut from a team before but didn’t think he left anything on the table in his pre-season.
“I gave everything I had and if anyone told me I’d have been around this long everyone would have laughed” said Nurse. “There were lots of people who didn’t think I’d have been here at this point.”
He fought the puck a bit against the Rangers on Tuesday night but on the whole showed more than a few flashes that indicate he will be a very good NHLer.
“I came in as a prepared as I could” he said. “I was fuelled by the fact that so many people said I wasn’t good enough to keep up at this level. I proved a few people wrong but I still have a lot of room to grow as a player and as a person.”
Good night Nurse.