3 Players the Edmonton Oilers should have drafted instead of Darnell Nurse

The struggles of defenseman Darnell Nurse in this year's postseason begs the question on whether the Edmonton Oilers made the right call on draft day. Find out which players the Oilers should have taken instead of Nurse.
Dallas Stars v Edmonton Oilers - Game Three
Dallas Stars v Edmonton Oilers - Game Three / Leila Devlin/GettyImages
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A Different Defenseman

In the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers were on a mission to bolster their defensive corps. With the seventh overall pick, they set their sights on Darnell Nurse, a promising young defenseman whom they believed could anchor their blue line for years to come. However, as Nurse's career has unfolded, his defensive struggles have raised questions about whether the Oilers missed an opportunity by passing over other defensive prospects, such as Nikita Zadorov.

Zadorov, selected 16th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the same draft, has carved out a solid NHL career, showcasing his physicality, defensive prowess, and ability to shut down opposing forwards. Despite bouncing around between different teams, Zadorov has consistently made an impact whenever he's been on the ice, earning a reputation as a reliable and tenacious defenseman.

The Oilers had a firsthand look at Zadorov's abilities during this year's playoffs, where they faced off against him in the second round. His imposing presence and defensive reliability posed a significant challenge for Edmonton's offense, underscoring the impact he can have on a game when he's at the top of his game.

Given the benefit of hindsight, one can't help but wonder if the Oilers should have taken a chance on Zadorov instead of Nurse. While Nurse has shown flashes of brilliance, his inconsistency and defensive lapses have left many questioning his long-term potential as a top-tier defenseman. In contrast, Zadorov's steady play and physicality could have provided the Oilers with the stability and defensive reliability they've been seeking on the blue line.

Of course, draft decisions are always fraught with uncertainty, and it's impossible to predict with certainty how things would have unfolded if the Oilers had chosen differently. However, as they continue to grapple with defensive struggles and search for solutions to shore up their blue line, it's worth reflecting on the road not taken and considering whether Nikita Zadorov could have been the missing piece in Edmonton's quest for defensive excellence.