From very good to very, very good.
Without defenceman Darnell Nurse, the Soo Greyhounds were a very good team.
Ergo, they should be even better now that the 19-year old defender has returned to the Soo from the Edmonton Oilers.
As Nurse may not be quite ready for National Hockey League duty with the Oilers, he should be well prepared to lead the Greyhounds on an Ontario Hockey League excursion that could extend well into next spring.
Some say Nurse gets special treatment from Hounds head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Some say Nurse is over-rated and needs to drastically improve his level of play within the defensive zone.
Some say the Hounds should have traded Nurse last season when they had the chance to receive multiple players and draft picks in return.
Whatever some fans have said and may still be thinking, the prevailing notion among those who pay close attention — including those who are paid to do so — is that Nurse is a franchise-type defenceman capable of playing a major role on a Greyhound team that has big-time aspirations for this 2014-2015 OHL season.
All due respect to others intended, Nurse is the best defenceman on the Greyhounds and one of the top blueliners in the 20-team OHL.
To be sure, while the game has dramatically changed over the years, Nurse is one of the top defencemen to ever wear the red-and-white of the Greyhounds, in a select class with the likes of Craig Hartsburg, Paul Coffey, Chris Felix, Adam Foote and Richard Jackman.
As for the 2014-2015 edition of the Hounds, it is probably the deepest and best-balanced team that the Soo has iced in the OHL for at least 15 years.
It is well-coached, led by Keefe and a staff the size of some NHL teams.
There are those who say the Hounds could go all the way without adding another player the rest of the 2014-2015 OHL season.
Then again, the same might be said of the Erie Otters, who are the one Western Conference team that could stand in the way of the Hounds making it all the way to next spring’s OHL championship series.
Let’s get back to where we are, though, which is October 23.
With Nurse, the Hounds added an impact player 10 games into the season without having to trade for him.
Think about it, the Hounds had a record of 8-2 before Nurse even rejoined the team for Wednesday night’s 7-2 win over the Sudbury Wolves.
As written here, as written there, as written elsewhere, the Greyhounds are a very, very good team.
They are a very good team as October nears November and the feeling is the same can and will be said several months from now.
PHOTO: Defenceman Darnell Nurse has returned to the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds from the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. (Photo by Edmonton Journal.)