Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/19/13
If it turns out that Wednesday’s outing against the Vancouver Canucks was the last for Darnell Nurse this pre-season the 18-year-old certainly left his mark. Nurse played almost 23 minutes second only to Justin Schultz and once again showed why the Edmonton Oilers snapped him up with the seventh pick overall in the June draft. He blocked shots in the 4-1 victory broke up two-on-ones and played with the kind of poise that is unusually for a rookie. “That kid’s a hockey player” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “Lots of compete in his game. “When a player like that is out against unbelievable players like the Sedins usually the young player will be very shy with the game and very defensive. He was on the war path. I thought he played one hell of a game.” So too did goaltender Devan Dubnyk who said the only unfortunate aspect of it all is that the Oilers have enough defensive depth. They won’t rush Nurse if he can continue to excel with the Sault SteMarie Greyhounds and represent Canada at the world juniors. “I can’t believe he’s 18 years old” said Dubnyk who faced 26 shots in the victory. “He has this maturity about him on the ice. I’ve been so impressed with him. “He plays hard then you see his ability to create some things and jump up. You wouldn’t expect with the game that he plays. It’s too bad there’s not going to be a spot because he’s certainly shown he could push for it if there was room. “I’ve been beyond impressed with him all camp. It’s fun to have a young guy who wants to play defence.” As for Nurse he says he’s just soaking up everything he can for as long as he can. The Oilers play the Canucks again on Saturday in Edmonton and will do so with a smaller roster. Despite some of the strong performances on Wednesday which Eakins said will make the cuts even tougher the Oilers do have to get their numbers down. There were still 41 players on the roster when they left Vancouver. “As every day goes on I just feel like I’m getting better and better” said Nurse. “The biggest thing for me is to just take in everything I can each day whether that’s learning from guys on the ice or just putting in the work in the gym. “That’s really all you can do when you’re in my position. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it” he continued. “There have been some moments where I’ve had to step back and say how lucky am I do be in this position right now. That’s the biggest part of me just enjoying all of this.”
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