OHL Conference Final a Glimpse Into Oilers Future

The OHL’s Western Conference final has already had it’s share of excitement and given fans a reason to tune in.

Edmonton Oilers fans have even more incentive to take a sneak peek at what could be the future of their franchise.

(OHL Images)
Connor McDavid’s Erie Otters lead the Greyhounds 2-1 in the OHL Western Conference final(OHL Images)

{See related: Connor McDavid and Darnell Nurse, the Future of the Oilers?}

The Erie Otters and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds are currently locked in a battle to get to the OHL Championship series and a potential berth in the MasterCard Memorial Cup.

The most interesting and pivotal matchup in the series and probably in any CHL series is between the team’s two captains, Connor McDavid and Darnell Nurse.

They also happen to be (or soon to be) property of the Edmonton Oilers.

Connor McDavid

McDavid has been a much heralded generational talent, one that has been compared to Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky for his potential as a franchise-altering player. Yet to be chosen, he will certainly be the Oilers first overall selection at the NHL Entry Draft in June, and look to change the fortunes of a floundering organization.

There have been few players that have dominated the way McDavid has and with each new challenge, he not only hurdles it, but steps over it as though it were nothing. His ability to think the game at such a high level and pace is unmatched by anyone in junior hockey.

He may not be Oilers property yet, but there’s little chance he won’t be taken first overall in June.

Darnell Nurse

Drafted 7th in 2013, Nurse is the Oilers top defense prospect and has exactly what the Oilers need. He’s a big, skilled shutdown defender that plays with a mean streak and loves matching up against the opponent’s best.

He was a star for Canada at the World Junior Championships and for anyone who saw his play against Russia in the gold medal game, can envision just how much of a need he will fill in Edmonton. Whether it is as early as next year, or a season or two down the road, the Oilers anticipate him being a top four defender for the long term.

The Oilers took Darnell Nurse with the 2013 7th overall  pick (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
The Oilers took Darnell Nurse with the 2013 7th overall pick (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

McDavid vs Nurse

McDavid’s Otters currently have the upper hand, leading the best of 7 series 2-1 at this point, with game 4 scheduled for tonight. 

McDavid has lived up to his billing averaging 3 points a game so far, including some highlight reel moments. McDavid, which should surprise no one, was just named OHL Player of the Week with 9 points in the first 3 games of the series.

While the numbers may not necessarily reflect it, Nurse has been effective and has been a beast in his own end. He has played about half of each game and primarily against McDavid, and has played him tough, limiting his chances as best as he can. Perhaps odd to say considering McDavid’s numbers, but without Nurse it would be much worse.

The Oilers are a struggling franchise, of that there is no doubt. While they have a number of talented players and emerging stars on their roster, none may have a bigger role in turning the team around than the two players going head to head in this series.

Oilers fans certainly have no stake in watching the NHL playoffs at this point, but they should tune into the OHL Western Final for a look at two future cornerstone players.


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