TORONTO -- Sault Ste. Marie defenseman Darnell Nurse anticipates a large family contingent to join him at Prudential Center on June 30 for the NHL Draft.
Nurse, No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting final list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, is expected to be chosen among the top 10 players. He told NHL.com that one of his biggest supporters is his uncle Donovan McNabb, who spent 13 seasons as a quarterback in the NFL, including 11 with the Philadelphia Eagles, and is Darnell's uncle by marriage.
"The draft will be a whole family affair, with my aunts and uncles, cousins and my parents," Nurse said at the NHL Scouting Combine. "And Uncle Donovan will be there and he can't wait. He's excited for it too."
Nurse was asked if he struck a deal with his uncle that if he were selected among the top 10, if McNabb would finally wear skates and get on the ice.
"No, even if we did bet, he still wouldn't do it," Nurse said with a grin. "All I can do is keep trying."
Nurse, who did not participate in any of the fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine, is recovering after surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his left ring finger.
He underwent the usual medical examination, and had his height and weight and body fat measured.
"It was disappointing not being to do the testing, but the way I look at it is, there are many months ahead," Nurse said. "I'm eight weeks post-surgery and supposed to wait until 12 weeks to start up again. You have to have patience. I'm looking forward to the draft. And I'm going to enjoy this whole experience with my family."
Is he nervous with the draft less than a month away?
"I wouldn't say I have butterflies, but I'm just enjoying the whole experience, whatever is going to take place will take place," Nurse said. "Come June 30, everyone in this room will be part of different life and for me it just means a lot more work. I love going to the gym every day, getting on the ice. For me, I'm just going to enjoy the whole experience and get ready for the hard work ahead."