Top 10 Tuesday: Oilers Draft Busts

Kyla Lane
June 28 2016 04:45PM

Last Friday night marked a draft that saw the Oilers win a little piece of the lottery without having the lottery balls actually drop in their favour. Columbus shocked everyone by taking Pierre-Luc Dubois with their third overall pick, leaving Jesse Puljujarvi (A.K.A Pool Party) to fall into the Oilers' lap. Amazing! While there's no way of knowing who the next Oilers draft bust will be, in this week's Top 10 Tuesday I plan on killing your Pool Party vibe by reminding you of the ten worst Oilers draft busts over the years. 

TEN: NAIL YAKUPOV

Don't hate me for this one, Yak-City! Leading up to the draft there was speculation about whether the Oilers would take the high-powered forward or go with Ryan Murray, a defenseman that fit what the Oilers needed (and still need) at the time. Despite a 9-2 vote by the scouts in favour of Murray, the Oilers called Yak's name at the podium.

Many drafts will see a clear-cut first overall choice, but in 2012 things seemed a little bit more complicated. In the end, Yak (the consensus first overall pick) was taken first and was expected to produce as a first overall pick should. While he's certainly not the worst draft pick the Oilers have made, there is resentment surrounding him and what could've been. 

Drafted Later: Ryan Murray, Alex Galchenyuk, Morgan Rielly, Filip Forsberg 

NINE: ALEXEI MIKHNOV

The difficulty I had finding a photo of this guy in an Oilers jersey speaks volumes in itself. Drafted 17th overall in the 2000 NHL Draft, Alexei Mikhnov only played two games in the NHL... six years after being drafted (playing in Russia before and after his NHL "stint"). 

Drafted Later: Justin Williams, Brooks Orpik, Nicklas Kronwall 

EIGHT: JESSE NIINIMAKI

And then there's this guy... If it was tough to find pictures of Mikhnov then Niinimaki was nearly impossible. From what I found, Jesse Niinimaki can only be found in an Oilers jersey off the ice because, well, he's never actually played on NHL ice. He was drafted 15th overall in the 2002 draft as a 6 foot 2, 200 pound centreman. Despite not making the show his career did take him to the AHL, where he scored one goal in 24 games before returning to Finland. Let's hope this year's Finnish pick works out a little better. 

Drafted Later: Duncan Keith, Alex Steen

SEVEN: ROB SCHREMP

In his first OHL season with the Icedogs, Rob Schremp lead all rookies in scoring with 74 points, earning him rookie of the year honours at 16-years old. From that moment on, Schremp was thought of as one of the best up and coming prospects. The Oilers drafted him at 25th overall following his second OHL season. Schremp played one more season with London Knights, which proved him to be even more of a powerhouse than originally thought by earning 145 points in only 57 games. 

Once his Junior career was over, Schremp became well acquainted with the AHL, only being called up seven times in three seasons by the Oilers. Though his magic hands could not be denied by those who watched, it never translated to many points for him in Edmonton. Schremp finished his tenure with only three assists in his seven games with the Oil. 

Schremp was claimed off of waivers twice (by NYI & Atlanta) before disappearing overseas and leaving us all to wonder, "what ever happened to that Schremp dude?".

Drafted Later: Cory Schneider & Mike Green 

SIX: THE UN-BUSTS

The number six spot isn't reserved for any single player, but rather the ones who appeared to be draft busts, left the Oilers and found success. Sound familiar? 

While I'm sure there's plenty more who could be added to this list, these are the more obvious ones:

Devan Dubnyk: Drafted 14th overall in the 2004 draft, Duby got his chance at being an NHL starter when he was backing up the injury (and Superbowl Sunday) prone Khabibulin. Dubnyk had his ups and downs playing behind the infamous Oilers defence, and was eventually traded to Nashville for Matt Hendricks where he was then traded once more and sent to the minors. Many of us thought we'd never see much of him in the NHL ever again UNTIL HE GOT NOMINATED FOR THE VEZINA ALONGSIDE CAREY PRICE AND PEKKA RINNE! Dubnyk didn't win the Vezina, but he was awarded the Bill Masterson Trophy and finished fourth in the Hart Memorial Trophy voting in 2015. 

Kyle Brodziak: Selected in the seventh round of the 2003 NHL Draft, Brodziak's expectations weren't very high and his career with the Oilers saw him bouncing up and down to and from the minors on multiple occasions. He was traded to the Wild in 2009 where he spent six years in Minnesota before being traded to the St. Louis Blues. Brodziak was never supposed to be a superstar, but he's found his place as a solid fourth line centerman who actually gets to see... wait for it... the playoffs. 

Andrew Cogliano: Cogliano was drafted 25th overall in the 2005 draft by the Oilers. After almost being part of a trade that was supposed to see Dany Heatley in an Oilers jersey in 2009, the following season saw Cogliano struggle along with the rest of the Oilers. He finished the season with only 28 points in 82 games and bounced around all three forward positions. In 2011, Cogliano was shipped to Anaheim where he's seen the playoffs in all but one of his seasons with the Ducks. He also seems to have found some luck as he has avoided the Oilers injury curse, becoming the 5th player in the NHL to play 500 consecutive games from beginning of his NHL career.

FIVE: 2007 DRAFT 

This spot is reserved for an entire draft... what a nightmare. In a draft that should've kicked off a strong rebuild, the Oilers used two of their three first round picks on Alex Plante at 15th overall and Riley Nash at 21st overall. Plante was expected to to be a pilar on the back end AND was also the first round pick we received in the Smytty trade (yes, I'm still bitter). Injury prone (a back injury and four concussions) and unable to skate with the best of them, Plante eventually ended up playing in Asia.

To his credit, Riley Nash IS actually still playing in the NHL. He comes in as a bust because of the steep price paid for him (the 30th and 36th picks) and the players who were chosen after him. Nash spent the entire three years of being an Oiler playing college hockey for Cornell before being traded to Carolina for a #46 pick, where he's gone on to play 242 NHL games. Well, that worked out well.

We did get Gagner at sixth overall this draft, so that makes the bitterness subside slightly. 

Drafted Later: Max Pacioretty, Mikael Backlund, David Perron

FOUR: 1990 DRAFT

Many know this draft as one of the best, but Oilers fans know this as one of the worst in history. With the 17th overall pick the Oilers chose Scott Allison. This dude that never even got close to the NHL. Normally, we could get past this, but the fact that Keith Tkachuk and Martin Brodeur were chosen with the 19th and 20th picks respectively makes this an even bigger kick in the nuts. Again... what could've been...

THREE: 2003 DRAFT

SO MUCH POTENTIAL... until the Oilers chose Marc-Antoine Pouliot at 22nd overall. Want to know who we could've had? Zach Friggen Parise. The Oilers made 12 picks at this Draft and only five made it to the NHL. In a draft class full of players like Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Suter, Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler we got Pouliot. The guy just couldn't translate his skills to the NHL level, which eventually sent him along to play overseas. 

The 2003 draft was one of the best the NHL has ever seen, but in typical Oilers fashion they managed to completely miss out on any of the top end talent. This draft saw the likes of Ryan Suter, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Mike Richards, Brian Boyle... and we picked Marc-Antoine Friggen Pouliot. You know who we could've had at 17th overall had we not traded down to 22nd and picked this guy? Zack Parise. Just let that sink in. 

TWO: JASON BONSIGNORE 

This guy went two picks before the one and only Ryan Smyth. He played a whole 79 games in the NHL and 20 with the Oilers. Thank the heavens that we held the fourth and sixth picks in 1994 because the Oilers royally screwed up taking Bonsignore at four but made the best draft pick in all of history (in my humble opinion (minus McDavid)) by choosing Smytty at six!  

The Oilers went into the 1994 draft with two picks: the fourth and the sixth. With the fourth pick they chose Jason Bonsignore, a dude who ended up playing a whole 79 games in the NHL (20 with the Oilers) despite being compared to Mario Lemieux in his draft year.  Thank the heavens the Oilers pulled their heads out of their asses two picks later and chose none other than Ryan Smyth. From where I intern, Ryan Smyth is one of the best draft picks in the history of Oilers draft picks (in my humble opinion (minus McDavid)). 

ONE: STEVE KELLY

Let me paint a scene for you: it's July 8, 1995 and Northlands Coliseum is bumpin'. Alberta born Shane Doan is slated to go somewhere around fifth overall... which is the exact pick the Oilers hold in their hands. Sather walks up to the mic with chants of "Doan Doan Doan" ringing out. He selects Steve Kelly, mic drops, and walks away. Okay, he didn't actually mic drop, but... WTF? Only minutes later Winnipeg walks up and selects Shane Doan. 

Let me paint another scene for you: Steve Kelly plays 149 games in the NHL (27 of which were with the Oilers) and let's come back to the present -- Shane Doan is still playing in the NHL. 

I threw this in just to remind you that not ALL of our draft picks are bad! Cheer up, the series of unfortunate events got us this guy! 

And there you have it, folks. A reminder of just how we're not only awful at hockey, but we've also been known to be completely awful at picking decent talent. Obviously there's plenty of Oilers draft busts out there that didn't make the list, so I pose the question to you, Nation: Who should've made the list of all time Oilers draft busts?

0418a8c72c3b2cbbb70e2aad0017acdb
OilersNation intern by day, goalie by night. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @TheNationKyla.
Avatar
#1 Shameless Plugger
June 28 2016, 04:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
59
cheers

I've tried to BLOCK out these memories.

Avatar
#2 @Hallsy4
June 28 2016, 04:56PM
Trash it!
25
trashes
Cheers
11
cheers

I would have had Ryan Brodziak fist on the list. I saw it before it was corrected. How dare an intern make a typo. People don't forget.

Avatar
#3 Greg McDavid
June 28 2016, 04:57PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
49
cheers

We did well this year. How many other teams selected 3 players in McKenzie's top 40? That's pretty good for their first three picks. It would be amazing if all three developed into solid NHLers.

Avatar
#4 CMG30
June 28 2016, 04:57PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
32
cheers

I'd like to say that every club has a closet full of suspect picks like this, but I suspect I'd be wrong.

Avatar
#5 @Hallsy4
June 28 2016, 04:58PM
Trash it!
110
trashes
Cheers
15
cheers

Tyler Benson at 32 worries me a bit. I woulda taken Alex Debrincat. TRADE THE MALL

Avatar
#6 Greg McDavid
June 28 2016, 05:03PM
Trash it!
18
trashes
Cheers
52
cheers

Wouldn't it be a shocker if Yak ends up playing for the Oilers again this year and has an incredible breakout year? If it sounds too good to be true...

Avatar
#7 Bucknuck
June 28 2016, 05:03PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
57
cheers

Kelly, Bonsignore and Pouliot as 1,2,3 sits perfect with me. That Kelly one really pissed me off at the time.

I think it's worth noting that Cogliano has been good since he stepped on the ice, including his time as an oiler. He just got lumped in with Nilsson in everyone's mind.

Avatar
#8 Greg McDavid
June 28 2016, 05:04PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
11
cheers

@Shameless Plugger

I distinctly remember forgetting those draft selections. :)

Avatar
#9 Robin Brownlee
June 28 2016, 05:04PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
95
cheers

No Oiler draft bust list is complete without the Swiss Miss, Michel Riesen. He's top-five, easily.

Avatar
#10 Explicit
June 28 2016, 05:06PM
Trash it!
18
trashes
Cheers
50
cheers

I'd put Paajarvi ahead of yak

Avatar
#11 Explicit
June 28 2016, 05:07PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
25
cheers

@Robin Brownlee

Haha Michel Riesen, I forgot about that guy

Avatar
#12 @Hallsy4
June 28 2016, 05:08PM
Trash it!
11
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

Could we sign Ninimaki now and have him come over to mentor the young Fin?

Avatar
#13 Derian Hatcher
June 28 2016, 05:13PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
52
cheers

Steve Kelly….What do expect when your “Head Scout” lives in Cabo San Lucas…so many prospects to see there. Atta boy Fraser.

Avatar
#14 IRONman
June 28 2016, 05:13PM
Trash it!
28
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

We got good scouts now

And PC trigger man

Poo and Nuge ??

Not sure who.

Yak will stay. He is good on line 3

Avatar
#15 D
June 28 2016, 05:18PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
44
cheers

well, let's hope the curse of bad drafting has now moved on from Edmonton to Columbus.

Avatar
#16 Lofty
June 28 2016, 05:19PM
Trash it!
9
trashes
Cheers
45
cheers

15 comments in and some idiot hasn't argued that Hall should be on the list. That's progress.

Avatar
#17 Kevwan
June 28 2016, 05:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
29
cheers
Robin Brownlee wrote:

No Oiler draft bust list is complete without the Swiss Miss, Michel Riesen. He's top-five, easily.

I'll never forget it. That morning Matheson wrote that the Oilers were looking at Hossa @ #14.

Ottawa got Hossa at 12. How different would the last 19 years be if it was Hossa instead of Riesen?

Avatar
#18 nunyour
June 28 2016, 05:34PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers

You have summed up nicely why the oilers have sucked for ten years. I wonder how many of these scout are still with the team ?

Avatar
#19 mithaman
June 28 2016, 05:39PM
Trash it!
16
trashes
Cheers
24
cheers

"Despite a 9-2 vote by the scouts in favour of Murray, the Oilers called Yak's name at the podium."

Do you have a source on this, or are you just spittin rumours?

Avatar
#20 Hockey123
June 28 2016, 05:45PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

Too early?

http://www.hockeyprospect.com/2017-nhl-draft-rankings-hockeyprospect-coms-early-top-30/

Avatar
#21 VK63
June 28 2016, 05:47PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
29
cheers

They play hockey in Asia?

Alex Plante must feel like Yao Ming!!

Avatar
#22 ubermiguel
June 28 2016, 05:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
37
cheers

That 1990 draft still boggles the mind; zero NHL games between them all. That level of futility will never be bettered.

Avatar
#23 the dope $teez
June 28 2016, 05:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
29
cheers

Jesus this is depressing.

Avatar
#24 Reg Dunlop
June 28 2016, 06:07PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
8
cheers

How about Gary Soetaert, back in WHA days? The annoying habit of shopping primarily in your own sandbox has a long history in the organization. Player chosen next? The best scorer in WHA history, Buddy Cloutier.

Avatar
#25 5>1>0
June 28 2016, 06:09PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
31
cheers

Sweet article Ms. buzzkill

Avatar
#26 #1 overall waivers pick
June 28 2016, 06:13PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
20
cheers

Edmonton had eight first round picks from 1991 to 1995.

They drafted 4 left wingers, 3 centers and 1 D-man.

Shane Doan was a right winger but Oilers...

Avatar
#27 Moe Sizzlack
June 28 2016, 06:14PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
15
cheers

Negative Nancy this one !!

R U from Calgary ??

Avatar
#28 baggedmilk
June 28 2016, 06:21PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
16
cheers
Robin Brownlee wrote:

No Oiler draft bust list is complete without the Swiss Miss, Michel Riesen. He's top-five, easily.

We needed you when we were putting this together, Robin!

Avatar
#29 Jay (not J)
June 28 2016, 06:26PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
20
cheers
Explicit wrote:

I'd put Paajarvi ahead of yak

They got a pretty good return for Paajarvi. That has to mitigate the bust. I doubt that they will do as well with Yak. I'd be very happy to see it though.

Avatar
#30 Gravis82
June 28 2016, 06:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
21
cheers
Kevwan wrote:

I'll never forget it. That morning Matheson wrote that the Oilers were looking at Hossa @ #14.

Ottawa got Hossa at 12. How different would the last 19 years be if it was Hossa instead of Riesen?

but then we wouldn't have drafted McDavid!

Avatar
#31 BornInAGretzkyJersey
June 28 2016, 06:52PM
Trash it!
19
trashes
Cheers
9
cheers

Hindsight is 20:20.

Kind of like the feeling of regret one experiences after reading another Intern's article riddled with typos, forced humour, and an utter lack of historical context to back up anything resembling a strong narrative.

Avatar
#32 BornInAGretzkyJersey
June 28 2016, 06:54PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
33
cheers
mithaman wrote:

"Despite a 9-2 vote by the scouts in favour of Murray, the Oilers called Yak's name at the podium."

Do you have a source on this, or are you just spittin rumours?

Spector broke that a while ago. Katz over ruled the mall.

Avatar
#33 socaldave
June 28 2016, 07:00PM
Trash it!
13
trashes
Cheers
16
cheers

Are you, y'know, contractually obligated to churn out negative article after negative article? What... did Doug Weight not sign your jersey when you were a kid?

Avatar
#34 MrBung
June 28 2016, 07:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
22
cheers

The Steve Kelly pick was a result of the "smartest guys in the room" syndrome. If it were not for all the greatness Sather brought upon Edmonton, I would want to kick him in the nuts for that pick.

Avatar
#36 Pouzar99
June 28 2016, 08:00PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
24
cheers

Very good, if painful, article. Just for balance, I note Oiler drafting was once great. The first few years featured 6. Paul Coffey. 8 Grant Fuhr. 21 Kevin Lowe. 48. Mark Messier. 69. Jari Kurri. 69. Glenn Anderson. 80. Esa Tikannen. 132. Andy Moog.

Then we went over the cliff.

Avatar
#37 FISTO Siltanen
June 28 2016, 08:37PM
Trash it!
8
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

Is there some reason my comment never posted here?

Avatar
#38 blark
June 28 2016, 09:50PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

Flipping through the 1999 draft no names are really sticking out, but would you say that Jani Rita was your #11 on the list?

Avatar
#39 Serious Gord
June 28 2016, 09:59PM
Trash it!
10
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

Yak is on the cusp of becoming the greatest #1 pick bust since the draft became meaningful circa 1970.

And as for the greatest bust where fans wanted one player and the team picked a different player the Kelly pick is in the running for greatest.

Remarkable that the oil holds the title for both kinds.

Avatar
#40 GK1980
June 28 2016, 10:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Bucknuck wrote:

Kelly, Bonsignore and Pouliot as 1,2,3 sits perfect with me. That Kelly one really pissed me off at the time.

I think it's worth noting that Cogliano has been good since he stepped on the ice, including his time as an oiler. He just got lumped in with Nilsson in everyone's mind.

Agreed, I'm curious what the media/ hockey writers had wrote about them. Actual words they used. Found somewhere that it stated "Steve kelly was the fastest prospect in the 1995 draft".

Avatar
#41 RJ
June 28 2016, 11:10PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers
Serious Gord wrote:

Yak is on the cusp of becoming the greatest #1 pick bust since the draft became meaningful circa 1970.

And as for the greatest bust where fans wanted one player and the team picked a different player the Kelly pick is in the running for greatest.

Remarkable that the oil holds the title for both kinds.

Yak isn't even in the top-5:

1. Gord Kluzak 2. Rick DiPietro 3. Patrick Stefan 4. Brian Lawton 5. Alexander Daigle

Google them. Yak is one of the worst of the last decade, but definitely not all-time worst. He's more of a Kwame Brown. Long-time player, but not likely a HOF-er. For what it's worth, if you ranked the last ten #1s, Nuge is bottom-3.

Avatar
#42 OldOilerFan
June 28 2016, 11:13PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers

I'm another one of those guys old enough to remember the Steve Kelly fiasco. Every time we play Shane Doan I'm thinking D'oh! I've hated the " draft the best player available" mantra ever since. They picked him because he was the fastest? Argh.......

Avatar
#43 @Hallsy4
June 28 2016, 11:50PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers

Debrincat must have been tough to pass up. He had many many more goals than Strome this year on the same team. His point totals for the past two seasons are like Bensons in Bantam. might be next Johnny hockey. Hope I'm wrong, and I guess benson will likely turn out to be 3rd or 4th liner which will be nice to draft one for once. Debrincat at 39 by Chicago is steal of the draft IMO. Other than The 4th pick of course.

Avatar
#44 RJ
June 28 2016, 11:58PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

If you want to put Nail as a top-10 guy it's up to you.

But if you're picking players that were drafted later, Lindholm seems to be the obvious best player above all of your selections.

And for all of the hype surrounding him, I would have thought you'd include Reinhart. He's a future 1/2D, given the price PC paid for him.

Avatar
#45 bigbeaverdiaries
June 29 2016, 03:52AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

How about every single first round pick from 1984 to 1992.... It is embarrassing how bad it was....

Avatar
#46 Kurt
June 29 2016, 07:35AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Kyle Brodziak? Why even list a guy as a bust who was drafted in the 7th round. He was anything but a bust simply by cracking the Oilers roster. You'd have to ask gregor what the chances of making the NHL as a 7th rounder but its slim to none. Yak should be rated higher than him if anything.

Avatar
#47 El Guapo
June 29 2016, 08:44AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

What's just as bad about the 1995 draft is that Iginla was picked 5 spots later by the Stars and traded to the Flames later in the year. Almost 1300 points later, it still stings.

Avatar
#48 TheDisappointedFan
June 29 2016, 08:57AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

@RJ

You do realize the Oilers didn't draft Reinhart...right?

Avatar
#49 HardBoiledOil 1.0
June 29 2016, 09:48AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

even if we'd gotten Doan and others instead of our bad picks, the Oilers would have traded them away by now for a bag of pucks!

Avatar
#50 Lurch_tm
June 29 2016, 09:52AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

1992 Draft 13 - Joe Hulbig - Oilers 14 - Sergei Gonchar - Capitals

Comments are closed for this article.