One player who has climbed up the draft boards this season is Sault. Ste. Marie Greyhounds defenseman Darnell Nurse. Nurse is currently ranked 10th overall by ISS in its January rankings and is listed as the number one OHL defenseman draft prospect, and number two overall OHL player behind Ottawa 67’s forward Sean Monahan.
While Nurse’s talent is already present, he will most likely be drafted on future potential. At 6’5 190 pounds, Nurse certainly has room on his frame to add muscle and size. Nurse can also play quite physically, using his 6’5″ frame to his advantage, as indicated by his getting into a fight with Curtis Lazar at the Top Prospects Game. He has racked up 104 penalty minutes in 56 games played.
Nurse has a great first pass and is a smart, physical defenseman who excels and clearing his own zone. His offensive game has been a work in progress. Last year in 53 games played with the Greyhounds, Nurse had 1 goal and 9 assists for 10 points. The low scoring total could be because he was a rookie in the OHL and Sault Ste. Marie was one of the worst teams in the OHL last season. This year in 56 games played Nurse has registered 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points. He is also a plus 17.
NHL Central Scouting Chris Edwards compares Nurse to a young Chris Pronger. Pronger spent two seasons with the Peterborough Petes before going No. 2 overall to Hartford Whalers in the 1993 draft. In his second season with the Petes, Pronger had 15 goals, 77 points and 108 penalty minutes. In my opinion, Nurse has a long way to go to reach that level but I can see why he’s compared to Pronger. He’s a big kid, who can skate, and is physical as anyone on the blueline in the CHL. I see him in more of the Dion Phaneuf mold. The Greyhounds coaching staff has already found that Nurse has stellar leadership, naming him an alternate captain.
One thing Nurse has going for him that many prospects might not have is a mentor to guide him through life as a pro-athlete. Philadelphia sports fans may not like him simply because his uncle is the much maligned former quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles Donovan McNabb. Darnell’s aunt, Raquel Nurse who played basketball at Syracuse, is married to McNabb. Nurse’s father, Richard Nurse, was a CFL wide receiver with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. I expect Nurse to go anywhere from 7-11 in the upcoming draft. If the Flyers are there, which with the way they’re playing they very well may be, Nurse should be considered.
The British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame announced last week that Kamloops Blazers owner Mark Recchi along with the 1993-94 and 1994-95 Memorial Cup winning Kamloops Blazers teams will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Mark Recchi, who is native of Kamloops, played junior hockey with the Blazers from 1986-88 prior to playing 22 seasons in the NHL. He played 1652 NHL games recording 577 goals and 1533 points.
Recchi’s resume also includes three Stanley Cup Championships with Pittsburgh in 1991, Carolina in 2006 and Boston in 2011. Recchi currently sits 12th all-time in NHL history for points. The Blazers won back-to-back Memorial Cups and completed a stretch of winning three Memorial Cups in four seasons. Many great players came from those teams including current Blazers owners Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan. Other standout players included Jason Strudwick, Darcy Tucker, Brad Lukowich, Tyson Nash and current Kelowna Rockets head coach Ryan Huska.