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Tracking the Storm

Draft Profile: Darnell Nurse

Thursday, 06.27.2013 / 9:00 AM / 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.



SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 42 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 47 9 19 -13 28
E. Lindholm 47 9 11 -11 20
J. Tlusty 40 12 7 -11 19
J. Skinner 42 10 9 -7 19
R. Nash 47 7 12 -4 19
N. Gerbe 43 5 13 -3 18
V. Rask 47 6 9 -10 15
A. Sekera 45 1 14 -6 15
C. Terry 34 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .918 2.30
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45