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Draft Profile: Darnell Nurse

Thursday, 06.27.2013 / 9:00 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Draft Profile: Darnell Nurse
Each weekday leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft on June 30, CarolinaHurricanes.com will profile one player we believe might be available for Carolina’s fifth pick. Previous Profiles: Valeri Nichushkin | Sean Monahan | Nathan MacKinnon | Elias Lindholm | Seth Jones | Jonathan Drouin | Max Domi | Aleksander Barkov | Related Links: 2013 NHL Draft Preview | Hurricanes Draft History




When assessing top defensemen available in the 2013 NHL Draft, most consider Seth Jones, an NHL-ready player, to be in a class of his own. Darnell Nurse, one of a few in a still rather talented second tier, might be rawer, but he has the makings of a future shutdown defenseman.

Michael Smith
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Just look at him.

Nurse is a 6-foot-4 Canadian-born blueliner. Weighing in at 185 pounds, he still has some room to fill out his burly frame, but he already packs a snarling physical punch to his game.

“He’s a big man and a tremendous skater,” said Tony MacDonald, the Canes head of amateur scouting. “For some people, expectations are higher because of his size and skating.”

Nurse also has an impressive catalog of athletic kinfolk, most notably former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, who is his uncle by marriage. Nurse’s father, Richard, was a wide receiver for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League, and his mother, Cathy, played basketball with the McCaster Marauders. His older sister, Tamika, played basketball at Oregon and Bowling Green, and his younger sister, Kia, has represented Ontario and Canada in basketball. Nurse’s aunt, Raquel, was a star point guard with the Syracuse basketball team.

DARNELL NURSE
DEFENSEMAN
HOMETOWN: HAMILTON, ONTARIO
HEIGHT: 6-4
WEIGHT: 185
BIRTHDAY: FEB. 4, 1995 (AGE 18)

While his defensive play – buoyed by his ranginess and physicality – is his most striking asset, Nurse’s offensive game progressed in his second season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League.

In 2011-12, Nurse recorded 10 points (1g, 9a) and was a minus-15 in 53 games. He increased his offensive production fourfold in 2012-13, posting 12 goals and 29 assists for 41 points, third-best among Sault Ste. Marie defensemen. His plus-15 rating ranked second on the team.

Nurse continued to produce offensively in the playoffs, recording four points (1g, 3a) in six first-round games.

Still, Nurse might not project as a reliable point producer in the NHL. It’s his imposing size and calculated defensive abilities that impress scouts the most.

“He has great size and great tools,” MacDonald said. “I hesitate to say he’s still a work in progress, but he’s still building his game and getting better. His game is not yet complete, so maybe that’s the reason why some view him differently.”

The 18-year-old defenseman leapfrogged Sean Monahan to become the OHL’s top-ranked prospect in the NHL’s Central Scouting’s final report; Nurse is the fourth-ranked North American skater, an uptick of five positions from midterms.

“Central Scouting certainly recognized his potential,” MacDonald said. “Sometimes our perception of players from one scout to another is different.”

Some mock drafts have Nurse off the board as high as Carolina’s fifth selection, and in others, he falls out of the top 10. Many peg him somewhere in between.

“He has the tool and the physical attributes to be a top 10 pick, certainly,” MacDonald said.



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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81