Draft Prospects 2013: Darnell Nurse vs. Nikita Zadorov

Draft Prospects 2013 – The Other Defensemen

The 2013 NHL Draft is a little under a month away and the Oilers are looking to bolster their defense. Since Edmonton will select down at number seven, Seth Jones will not be left on the board come the time Edmonton is on the clock. As far as defensemen go the next two draft prospects are Darnell Nurse and Nikita Zadorov. Mock drafts have had the Oilers selecting either Nurse or Zadorov, but who should be the selection once the real draft takes place.

draft prospects 2013
Darnell Nurse climbing the 2013 NHL draft rankings (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)


Both players have outstanding size and great talent, so, it could be a difficult selection for the Oilers once draft time rolls around, but let’s look at each player.

Darnell Nurse

Darnell Nurse has the size and defensive ability that the Oilers are looking for. He is among the best defensive players in this year’s crop. Nurse has a tall lanky body, which could pose problems in the NHL level, but so far his lanky body hasn’t affected his play in the OHL. However, his lanky frame allows him to poke pucks away from the opposition.

Nurse isn’t afraid to get physical either. He can drop the gloves and fight if need be and uses his size as an advantage.

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Nurse is a very smart player and doesn’t play like the youngster that he is. He tends to go for high percentage plays, which is not common for young defenseman with his talent. Nurse is also strong leader despite his young age and leadership is something that the Oilers need right now.

Nurse needs to work on his shot and needs to try and add some muscle. Maybe the lanky thing worked in the OHL, but in the NHL, the players are bigger, faster, and much more physical and Nurse will get manhandled if he doesn’t gain some muscle on his frame.

Nikita Zadorov

Then we have the young Russian blueliner, Nikita Zadorov. Zadorov made a decision to leave Russia and play in the OHL that could have seriously damaged his NHL prospects, but paid off huge.

Much like Nurse, Zadorov excels on defense. Zadorov is a mountain of a man standing in at 6’5″ and 230 lbs. and in any league, that size is hard to take down. Zadorov is a very physical player who likes to dish out huge hits and, again like Zadorov, isn’t afraid to get in fights. Zadorov is the type of player the Oilers need, someone to light a fire underneath them.

2013 prospect Nikita Zadorov [David Chan]
Nikita Zadorov [David Chan]
He is among the fastest skaters in the 2013 draft and can cover a lot of ice. Zadorov is an excellent backwards skater and can hold his own in one-on-one situations

Although he hasn’t played with Team Russia in the World Juniors, he did play with his team, the London Knights, in this year’s Memorial Cup. The Knights didn’t win the Memorial Cup, but Zadorov didn’t do horribly himself, scoring two goals in five games. Not bad for a player not know for his offensive skills.

Zadorov has a booming slap shot and that is something that Darnell Nurse needs to work on. Although Zadorov is limited in the English language, he has become a leader on the Knights squad, but, if he goes to Edmonton, he would be in good company with another young Russian in Nail Yakupov.

Really if you look at the skills, Nurse and Zadorov are really, really similar. Nurse has the edge on offense, although both aren’t exactly Bobby Orr, but Edmonton needs a defensive player. Nurse and Zadorov are both great defensive players and it is very difficult to make this decision. Zadorov is just simply a bigger player with an NHL ready body and a more physical player than Nurse.

Both prospects would be great additions to Edmonton, but looking at the Oilers needs and weighing the pros and cons, if I were Craig MacTavish, I’d draft Nikita Zadorov. I know it’s an unpopular pick amongst fans, but I just feel that Zadorov will be a better fit on this Oilers team and they need someone like him.

PICK: Nikita Zadorov