The Edmonton Oilers first selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft was disappointed when he was sent back to Junior after the conclusion of his first preseason. Flipping the page through the Oilers 2013-14 campaign, Nurse has had a full year of development. He was named captain of his OHL club, he played a little bit of hockey for the OKC Barons and he’s already put on a good fifteen pounds in offseason training in prep for his second development/orientation camp.
This is a 19 year old kid who comes from a family of professional athletes who is driven and committed with only one goal in mind; to crack the Edmonton Oilers roster.
Now, the Oilers defensive corp have definitely improved since the end of the season but that certainly doesn’t mean they couldn’t use the jolt of talent that Nurse would bring to the lineup. His pedigree is elite, his talent level is elite, his leadership qualities are impressive and his commitment level is obvious. What is also obvious is how raw he is as a prospect.
Or rather, how raw he was.
This year, it would appear Nurse got the message when the Oilers sent him back to junior at the end of last year’s training camp. In interviews, he seems annoyed that interviewers are suggesting that he progress like an ordinary prospect. He is delighted to battle fellow prospect Jujhar Khaira in net front combat. He insists he is close to being in the NHL.
Reconsidering the situation, we should really look at this through his view, the Oilers view and our view as fans. Nurse, of course, wants to be in. He wants to be an Oiler and he wants to be the guy. Every player does and a prospect of his calibre is well on his way to becoming just that.
Now, from the Oilers view, this is a very delicate situation for a number of reasons. The first two are fellow prospects Martin Marincin and Oscar Klefbom. Both are talented, promising prospects just like Nurse. Marincin, a second round selection from 2010, is the oldest of the trio and also has the most experience. The huge defender looked sturdy next to Jeff Petry for much of the 2013-14 season.
Oscar Klefbom, the 19th overall pick in the 2011 draft, has a bit less experience, but just as much promise. He looks to be a very solid two way defender, with lots of size, upside, leadership quality and speed. He looked a little raw next to Andrew Ference at times during the end of this past NHL season, but also looked to be improving with every shift.
The problem for the Oilers will be a good one come this fall. Which of these three, if any, will have earned a spot with the big club? Which will benefit most from more development or making the jump, and which will be most negatively effected should there not be a roster spot available?
From the view of the fans, this is all conjecture. How will 19 year old Nurse handle it if he is sent back to junior once again? If Klefbom watches a prospect 2 years his junior make the jump ahead of him, will that have a negative effect on his own development? What happens if Marincin, who played the better part of the season with the Oilers, starts the year in Oklahoma? Will it help or hinder his growth?
Klefbom and Marincin will get to make their entrance at the main camp in September. Nurse is taking full advantage of this orientation camp to make it clear that he intends to kick the door down if need be to ensure his position on the Edmonton Oilers this fall.
Entering this critical stage in the rebuild, every move this management team makes is going to be discussed and broken down in minute detail. The Oilers haven’t claimed to have developed a true top pairing blue liner since the dynasty. Breaking that trend will need to be a top priority for this team as it tries to break the shackles of its cellar dwelling days.