With the eighth pick in the 2013 (SB Nation) NHL (Mock) Draft, the Buffalo Sabres select: Darnell Nurse, defenseman from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL.
That's what Sabres fans could hear from GM Darcy Regier on June 30 if the NHL draft plays out like our SBN mock draft has so far. The picks have been, in order: Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Seth Jones, Aleksander Barkov, Valeri Nichushkin, Sean Monahan, and Elias Lindholm.
When debating what the Sabres pick should be, I was honestly hoping that one of the forwards that went from picks 4-7 would be available, as the Sabres are still looking for elite forward help, especially offensively, to fill out their system. However, with a bit of a drop-off point in forward talent after Monahan & Lindholm, I decided to take the second defenseman off the board, and save the reinforcements up front for the Sabres next selection at pick #16.
Height - 6'5''
Weight - 192
Shoots - Left
Age - 18 (born 2/4/95)
From - Hamilton, ON
Darnell Nurse is exactly the type of player that fits the Sabres new draft philosophy that began last year - he's big, fast, and nasty. His 6'5'' frame is the product of a family chock full of elite athletes, and it gives him the size and reach to be a shutdown defenseman. He's already learned how to effectively use his size to shut down his opponents, and is extremely positionally and fundamentally sound. His never-quit, gritty disposition would make whichever team that drafts him tougher to play against (sound familiar?) but he's not just a one-dimensional player - he skates very well for a big man, has a nice breakout pass, and quarterbacked the power play for the Greyhounds this year in addition to leading the penalty kill.
Nurse leads by example, earning himself an A on his sweater this year, and isn't afraid to fight when called upon, dropping the gloves six times in the 2012-13 season. You may have also heard that his uncle (through marriage) is former NFL Donovan McNabb, which should give him a nice mental edge as he enters the professional ranks, though Nurse is very mature in his own right and plays a very smart, high-percentage game, even at a young age.
The young Canadian also has participated in the World Junior tournament as part of Team Canada's U-18 team for the past two seasons, and is ranked as the fourth North American skater by NHL Central Scouting.
Follow the rest of the 2013 SBN NHL Mock Draft right here, and look for the Sabres next pick, #16, on Monday.