Physically, Darnell Nurse has changed, adding almost 15 pounds since the Edmonton Oilers selected him seventh overall in the 2013 draft.

Mentally? Mentally, he says he’s stronger after working through the disappointment of not making the NHL roster out of his first training camp — a setback that was later trumped by the fact that he didn’t make the final cut for Canada’s world junior team.

And Nurse’s push to play on the Oilers blue line got even tougher with the additions of free agents Nikita Nikitin and Mark Fayne. Even Oscar Klefbom and Martin Marincin, both of whom played last season, will have to excel in order to stick out at training camp.

“There needs to be competition,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “We don’t want to be handing out spots in an NHL lineup to players who haven’t earned it. They need to battle and the other thing is, they need to be ready.

“When you rush players in, you’re setting them up for failure and we don’t want to do that. There are great examples around the league of players who maybe should have been sent back to junior and there are lots of players who weren’t sent back and who have had unbelievable careers.

“In the end, all this gets settled at training camp.

“Last year Darnell wasn’t ready,” Eakins continued. “I have expectations for our high picks that they will turn into very good NHL players. I have no expectations of when that will be.”

Looking back, Nurse, who is among the 30 players currently attending the Oilers’ orientation camp in Jasper, said he wasn’t ready last September.