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Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

HPW - Darnell Nurse

Jeremy White

Seth Jones sits atop the NHL Central Scouting Rankings, but he’s not the only top flight defenseman available in this year’s draft.  Darnell Nurse looks to bring a huge frame, and a well known bloodline to the NHL.  Jeremy White moves the Hockey Prospect Watch back to the blueline.
At 6’5’’ and just a shade under 200 pounds you’re going to hear a lot about Darnell Nurse of the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds.  He’s the nephew of former NFL Quarterback Donovan McNabb, through marriage, which makes him a bit more noteworthy if nothing else.  References to a sports “bloodline” are feeling quite Game-of-Thrones-y and that’s working for me right about now, so let’s go with it.
How good is Darnell Nurse?  Dan Marr of NHL Central Scouting says, “five years down the road you’re going to be talking about Jones and Nurse in the same sentence.”

Nurse could be an early pick in the 1st round of this year’s draft and could be a selection for the Sabres at either 8th or 16th overall depending on how the draft falls.  A native of Hamilton, Ontario, Nurse ends up playing hockey because of a family that was worried about his health and long-term well-being if he stuck it out in football.
Buffalo fans might be intrigued by the idea of yet another monster blue liner, but I’m willing to bet there are some phrases used to describe nurse that will scare some off as well.  
Hockeysfuture.com writes: “He easily projects as a top-two blueliner, although his offensive game may not be refined enough to be considered a true number-one. He will be an elite shutdown blueliner who will add at least 25 to 30 pounds of muscle to his 6’5, 200-pound frame.”
I know what you’re thinking.  We’re waiting for Tyler Myers to add the bulk, and fill out and turn into a huge wrecking ball, right?
Like Myers, Nurse is big, mobile, and extremely gifted.  There appears to be some offensive upside, but that’s not where Nurse has earned his stock as a top-tier draft prospect.
How prepared is he for life as a professional athlete?  Well, his NFL QB Uncle Donovan has been a positive influence on him to this point.  From NHL.com:
Nurse says, "From a physical standpoint, being able to work out with guys who've been through the experiences, as well as being in a house with so many competitors, is great," Nurse told NHL.com. "But the three biggest people, to be honest, are my parents and Uncle Donovan."
McNabb’s take on his nephew:
His uncle was booed by Eagles fans on draft day.  Having an uncle that’s been through the professional sports meat grinder, might be the kind of thing that can help a young kid.
Ranked 4th among North American skaters behind the "Big Three", Darnell Nurse would also bring endless medically appropriate puns.

A leader for the Greyhounds of the OHL, Nurse is expected to return there for another year of seasoning.  Toss in some time with Team Canada at World Juniors, and a pinch of age and body maturity, and the results could be rock solid.

As you'll see in the video highlights, it might be his opponents that need medical attention.

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People : Dan MarrDarnell NurseDonovan McNabbJeremy WhiteLike MyersSeth JonesTyler MyersWell
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