The Edmonton Oilers have made sure not to rush top defense prospect Darnell Nurse, giving him a two-game tryout last season before sending the seventh overall pick from 2013 back to junior. This year, Nurse began his campaign in the AHL, but got an early call-up and made an impact right away.
Known for both his physicality and his smooth stride, the 6-foot-4 Nurse made great use of the latter in this rush, taking the puck all the way from his own net to the promised land:
As with most Edmonton stories, this one has a grey ending: Minnesota would come back with two goals to win the contest 4-3, but at least Nurse got a memorable game puck.
The shot actually deflected off the stick of Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon, which is likely why goalie Devan Dubnyk couldn't get a beat on it, but how about the smooth puck-moving by Nurse to get into a scoring position? That's just one of the elements of his game that makes him one to watch in the near future and it was a nice omen that fellow young blueliner Oscar Klefbom dished him the assist.
If the Oilers are ever going to get out of the NHL's basement, improvement on the blueline is imperative. Both Nurse and Klefbom have high ceilings and the type of modern games that can push the puck in the right direction, without sacrificing in their own zone. Another positive from the Minnesota loss was that Klefbom led all Edmonton blueliners in ice time with more than 22 minutes (only McDavid played more overall, by a few seconds).
As of now, Edmonton is actually in worse shape than last year at this time. Even with Connor McDavid in the lineup (but, to be fair, missing Jordan Eberle), the Oilers are 3-7-0 through 10 games. At the same juncture last year, they were 4-5-1, while proceeding to lose the next three games as well.