How the Edmonton Oilers Messed Up the First Pick

Darnell Nurse (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
Darnell Nurse (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Well, Craig MacTavish, you’ve done it again. The Edmonton Oilers have another high draft pick and they go ahead and pick the wrong guy. In MacTavish’s first draft as Oilers GM, the Oilers selected Darnell Nurse, defenseman for the SOO Greyhounds.

Selecting a defenseman, that’s good. Selecting Darnell Nurse, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, Nurse is an alright player, but if you have to draft a defenseman, and the Oilers absolutely did, you go after the monster sized and lightning quick Nikita Zadorov.

Nurse is a tall player at 6’5″, but he weighs only 185 lbs. That’s a lanky body. He was a physical player in the OHL, but the NHL is a completely different beast. How will his beanpole frame be able to be as physical and fight for the puck? In order for him to succeed, he needs to add muscle to that frame.

Meanwhile, Nikita Zadorov has an NHL ready body, standing in at 6’5″ and 229 lbs. That’s a big blueliner and that’s the guy the Oilers needed and should have taken. Zadorov is arguably a better defenseman than Darnell Nurse is and Edmonton’s defense last season allowed a lot of shots and really put Devan Dubnyk with his back against the wall. Zadorov is a very physical player that can plug up the holes and scoring lanes for the opponents.

Both Nurse and Zadorov are players who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty and drop the gloves. These are things that the Edmonton Oilers need, a spark, some sort of life.

http://youtu.be/oQCwJ9mATTQ

http://youtu.be/75nSKFR58Y0

Nikita Zadorov [David Chan]
Nikita Zadorov [David Chan]
If you ask me, Zadorov is the more physical player. The reason being simply because of his size. He throws his weight around and makes bone crushing hits, like the video above, and when he fights, it’s really hard to knock down a player the size of Zadorov’s. Zadorov is also lightning quick on the ice. He can cover a lot of ice quickly and could be the next two-way defensman in the NHL. Zadorov hardly ever gets beaten in one-on-one situations and I don’t see why scouts wouldn’t like the big defenseman from Moscow.

I know that an offensive defenseman is not exactly what the Oilers want, or need, but Zadorov’s shot is absolutely devastating. He puts a lot of weight, and he has a lot, behind that shot and creates a boom. Given Zadorov’s size, the hard slap shot, and even the leadership, he reminds me of another very large defenseman, someone by the name of Zdeno Chara. I wonder what ever happened to him?

Can Canucks fans stand to see this site again?
Chara hoists the Stanley Cup

Oh, right.

Zadarov wasn’t ranked as high as Darnell Nurse was among the scouts and I don’t see why. They are similar in a lot of ways, hell, I think Zadorov is a better blueliner than Darnell Nurse. Both aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts, but they are drafted for their defense and, in my opinion, Zadorov is a better defender than the newest Edmonton resident, Darnell Nurse. I’m not saying that Darnell Nurse is a bad player, but Nikita Zadorov has the size and skill set that you don’t see every year in the NHL Draft and it would be wise for any team to scoop him up.

The Buffalo Sabres ended up getting an absolute steal in Zadorov with the number 16 pick and I’m sure will be great once he joins the Sabres. I really hope that Darnell Nurse proves me wrong and becomes an absolute star in the NHL and becomes the blueliner of the future for the Edmonton Oilers.

Do you like the Edmonton Oilers selection of Darnell Nurse? Disagree with my assumptions? Comment below or sent me a Tweet, @MarkWGraham.