TRACERS: OILERS ROOKIES VOL 4 (95-99)

This is Miro Satan. Darcy Regier once said “with young players there’s a window of opportunity, especially ones with skill. You don’t know if you’ll be able to help them find the switch in time before the window closes. Some make it, some don’t … some just squeeze through and that’s the game we all play”.  The Oilers grew impatient with him and sent him away, and Satan’s window flew open in Buffalo and he laid waste to NHL goalies for a decade.

Satan is just one of the headliners of this 5-year period for rookies in Oiler history. Mostly due to Glen Sather’s trades, Edmonton had some outstanding youngsters graduating to the NHL.

 

THE ROOKIES 94-95

  • David Oliver 44, 16-14-30
  • Todd Marchant 45, 13-14-27
  • Roman Oksiuta 26, 11-2-13

During this era (it probably started with the Bo Mironov trade) Glen Sather would often trade for prospects as opposed to draft picks. Whether he began to distrust his scouting staff we don’t know, but it certainly is fact that Slats dealt his famous NHLers for hot prospects a lot 91-95.

Todd Marchant might be the best of the bunch, an outstanding 2-way center and a player who had tremendous staying power. His speed meant he was effective on offense and defense; although he missed plenty of breakaways, he was music at an enormous point in Oiler history.

 

Marchant came over from NYC for Craig MacTavish and both teams got what they wanted: a Stanley for the big apple and an extremely useful player for the Oilers, young and miles of track ahead of him.

David Oliver enjoyed a brief career as a scoring star but was lost on waivers to the Rangers in his third NHL season. Oksiuta was acquired from the Rangers (hey, I’m not making this up, after the Messier trade there was a plane leaving every five minutes) for Kevin Lowe and was sent away to Vancouver before the end of his rookie season.

 

THE ROOKIES 95-96

  • Miro Satan 62, 18-17-35
  • Ryan Smyth 48, 2-9-11
  • Brett Hauer 29, 4-2-6
  • Tyler Wright 23, 1-0-1
  • Joacquin Gage 16, 3.77 .871

It was painfully obvious to all but Ron Low that Miro Satan was going to have a quality NHL career. How can I say this? Well, he scored 24 goals in 25 AHL games at age 20, an amazing feat. Then he popped 18 goals in his NHL debut, but the Oilers had other options and he was sent away in one of the truly horrible deals under Glen Sather’s watch.

Ryan Smyth has come to represent all that is right in Oiler Nation. Smyth’s trade created an enormous chasm between many fans and the Oilers management, a difference of opinion that continues until this day.

Hauer had an interesting debut but never did catch on, pretty much the same for Gage. Tyler Wright took a lot of time–he was 26 when it happened–but did establish himself as an NHL player.

 

THE ROOKIES 96-97

  • Mike Grier 79, 15-17-32
  • Rem Murray 82, 11-20-31
  • Mats Lindgren 69, 11-14-25
  • Dan McGillis 73, 6-16-22
  • Greg DeVries 37, 0-4-4

This may not seem like a lot, but holy hell Mike Grier was a fine 2-way winger over a long period of time. Rem Murray didn’t have a lot of pedigree but played well in whatever role was available and carved out a fine career too. Mats Lindgren impressed enough in his time with the Oilers to earn them Tommy Salo from the Island,

Dan McGillis came over from Detroit for Kirk Maltby and Sather sent him to Philly for Janne Niinimaa and he had a solid career before the lockout season. Greg DeVries was signed as a free agent out of junior and had a long, productive career. This was one of the fine seasons for the Oilers in regard to rookies.

 

THE ROOKIES 97-98

  • Scott Fraser 29, 12-11-23
  • Boyd Devereaux 38, 1-4-5
  • Joe Hulbig 17, 2-2-4

Oilers got Fraser for a load of hay, he scored 12 goals in a quick hurry and then signed with the Rangers (who else) as quick as you please. Devereaux was a high draft pick, had some promise as a checker but a Dallas Drake hit changed the course of his career. Joe Hulbig got a cup of coffee and a little more in 97-98.

 

THE ROOKIES 98-99

  • Tom Poti 73, 5-16-21
  • Sean Brown 51, 0-7-7
  • Georges Laraque 39, 3-2-5
  • Craig Millar 24, 0-2-2

Tom Poti was an interesting player. He had all kinds of offensive ability but was not an overly physical player. He could certainly pass the puck with aplomb and has (so far) lasted over 800 NHL games, but injuries may have ended his time in the NHL. Sean Brown was an Oiler fan favorite: tough as nails, good size and willing to fight all comers. He’s still around the city, I interviewed him for Nation Radio and he’s a stand up guy.

Georges Laraque is one of the most famous post-Stanley Oilers, a big man with a heart of gold and apparently very little ability to read a speedometer. Craig Millar was partial payment for Miro Satan.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

 

During this 5 year period Glen Sather was gambling that Barry Fraser’s high picks (Arnott, Bonsignore, Smyth, Devereaux) would merge with his aggressive acquisition plan (Mironov, Marchant, Grier and young NHLers like Weight & Joseph) and for a time it worked well.

The rookies 94-99 were an impressive lot.

WHAT DOES IT ALL REALLY MEAN?

The best Oilers of this 5-year period:

  • GOAL: Joacquin Gage
  • DEFENSE: Dan McGillis, Greg DeVries, Tom Poti, Sean Brown
  • CENTER: Todd Marchant, Rem Murray, Mats Lindgren
  • LEFT WING: Ryan Smyth
  • RIGHT WING: Miro Satan, Mike Grier, Georges Laraque

That’s a solid group. Here are the previous five year rookie groups.

 

90-94 GROUP

  • GOAL: Fred Braithwaite
  • DEFENSE:Boris Mironov, Geoff Smith
  • CENTER:Jason Arnott, Shaun Van Allen
  • LEFT WING: Martin Gelinas, Dean McAmmond, Shjon Podein
  • RIGHT WING: Josef Beranek, Steven Rice, Kirk Maltby

85-89 GROUP

  • GOAL
  • DEFENSE: Steve Smith, Craig Muni, Jeff Beukeboom, Chris Joseph
  • CENTER
  • LEFT WING: Esa Tikkanen, Raimo Summanen
  • RIGHT WING: Kelly Bucherger

79-84 GROUP

  • GOAL: Grant Fuhr, Andy Moog
  • DEFENSE: Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe, Charlie Huddy, Randy Gregg, Risto Siltanen
  • CENTER: Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Pat Conacher
  • LEFT WING: Jaroslav Pouzar, Dave Hunter, Dave Semenko
  • RIGHT WING: Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Dave Lumley

 The 79-84 group still towers over the rest. Is the 95-99 group 2nd best?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Stay away from that on again off again Stafford. The Capitals should be the preferred partner.

    Why continue to gather these bottom six forwards when there’s still two big holes in the Oilers top 6? Screw the Sabres, only thing they have that we may want is Tyler Myers, fark the rest.

    • I’m with you on the Capitals and Stafford, except if we could pull Miller out! There’s no place for Dubnyk or Khabby on the Oilers going forth and Miller is a quality goalie.

      That would bold well for the Oilers getting a quality UFA defensemen, knowing they have a quality net minder as well. Also you could take Stafford and package him.

      The Oilers need to think outside the box a little, get creative and put there balls out there. This team is full of fodder and all the management has done since the rebuild is trade or sign fodder for fodder.

      Could a trade involving the Predators for the rights to Radulov be an option? I’m of the opinion this could get done, Radulov probable wouldn’t come to the Oilers, so get his rights and package a deal to a team he would go to. Might peak someone’s interest like the Capitals as you suggested, also New Jersey have to give away a first this year or next?

      In my own opinion the Oilers have to do everything in there power to secure two top ten picks even two top five picks. Gather as many 1st round picks as possible and pick for need this year. (I am actually not a proponent of that) Center-Winger-Defensemen. Then look for a GM who players will respect before going into UFA season! Might I also suggest Hexstall for GM?

      If the Oilers can’t do this then they are going to be in Islander land for good.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        At that one booby prize per year pace they’ve been on, i agree. Time to make some of their own luck, do something on their own and pick up the pace of this rebuild considerably. The Oilers don’t need to hide and take the absolute minumum due to them for their reg season deeds. What the Oilers have done so far emulates what’s happened in Atlanta,Florida and the Islanders more than it does Pittsburgh or Washington.

        That first rounder the Devils have to surrender, does this mean the league controls this selection or the Devils will just be skipped over when they decide to permit this penalty to be inforced?

        It’s still early but i’d have no problems bringing in raw rookie like Doug Weight as GM, let Doug and Stu MacGregor run this ship. Let Weight coach or focus on GM duties, wherever he’s comfortable.

  • Captain Obvious

    Ahhh, blasts from the past. Growing up in Cape Breton, I was fortunate enough to see some of the names develop in the minors. Shaun Van Allen was amazing to watch. Met John Kordic during his brief stint.

    Best memory comes courtesy of a post game at Smooth Hermans. My best friends sister was one of the training staff so we hung out quite often. All the usual suspects were in the house, “Dancing” Dan Currie, Van Allen, Maltby (the rookie), Bill McDougall (imagine, Billy in a bar!!!), Steve Rice and the man himself, Francois Leroux. Well, Leroux was spouting off about how this was the year that Slats was gonna be forced to open the wallet big time for him. Not sure how many of you ever saw him in the early years, but dude couldn’t transition to skating backwards successfully all the time. Me being about 8 or 9 captains into the night, decided it was the right time for Frankie to hear some constructive criticism, so I told him to try figure skating in the off season and if he learned how to skate backward he might have an argument. I guess Maltby being the rookie figured he had to make an impression, and he smoked me, no warning, just smoked me. So a bit of a melee ensued, but the best was Van Allen reaming the shizz out of Maltby for being stupid. Told him I was on the money with my comments about Frankie then V.A bought me drinks the rest of the night.

    Oh yeah, Fuhr definitely was not a world beater for his re-hab stint on the island. Good times, good memories.

    • stevezie

      I heard Bob Stauffer slagging Maltby years after he left town, saying he was only tough if he was going up against drunk college kids from Grant Macewan.

      I once got to throw Teddy Purcell out of a St John’s bar, it was fun.

      • Mike Modano's Dog

        Bob Stauffer is a blowhard. Hard to believe he came up with an original thought before he had wikipedia or hockeydb in front of him. I cringe when he crowbars a stat (you got 20 goals back in 85 for the kamloops oiler didnt you?) or obscure fact (you were on the ice when Hextall scored his first goal werent you?) into his interviews. He was bad before but is unlistenable now that he’s on ched. The pr department must give him a list of excuses and propaganda before every show.

  • book¡e

    Ron Low should have stayed a goalie coach. Man that guy pissed me off when he basically forced Sather to trade Miro Satan and dump Ray Whitney. He also basically refused to let Kent Nilsson play when Sather brought him back from Europe, which isn’t a huge issue in the scheme of things, but Nilsson would have helped a bit as a 3rd liner that season and he wrecked a pretty good ‘feel good’ story by making Nilsson sit in the press box until he left town.

  • Douche Nietzsche

    In the last week I read and heard some crazy reasons on why the Oilers are l!ck!ng salty test!cles the way they are. The ones that stuck out the most were the ones about the curses and spells, and the ideas of bringing shamen to cleanse the place and the players.

    On my clarity trip to Zarahustras mountain top, Lucifer the Son of the morning dawned this upon me;

    “Then came the big surprise. Peter Pocklington took the mic and announced that now that Wayne had reached the age of majority they were going to rip up the seven-year contract he — actually Wayne’s dad along with his agent Gus Badali — had signed with Skalbania, and replace it with a 21-year personal services contract which would keep #99 in Edmonton for the rest of his hockey life, right through until 1999.

    I don’t remember Pocklington’s specific words but they stressed that the “personal services” nature of the contract would protect him from the big bad NHL, and in the event of a merger he would remain Pocklington’s indentured servant and an Oiler forever. The soon-to-be Great One and Peter Puck signed that contract on the little birthday cake table as 12,321 witnesses rose as one to give our enthusiastic blessing. Only in the Rebel League might one even imagine an 18-year-old signing a 21-year deal, which to the best of my knowledge remains the longest professional pact ever signed on this continent. It is arguably the most influential contract ever signed in hockey.”

    There are no spells or curses when it comes to the Oilers. The Oilers as a organization, team and a fanbase made a deal with Satan(not Miroslav) and are now paying for it and will for years to come. With the elites such as Messier, Kurri, Coffey and more the Oilers enjoyed the years with the Cup. With the elites such as Hall, Eberle, RNH and more the Oilers will suffer for years with no Cup, if ever.

    • O.C.

      I was one of the 12,321 at the birthday. Gretzky didn’t want to sign that, his family and siblings were flown in for it.

      Was weird. The one thing that rang loud was that Wayne would play hockey as an Oiler til 1999. They got the length of his career right but greed took over the helm on the Good Ship Oiler.

      . And agreed, there is no curse on Edmonton, just some real poor management choices – all stemming from ownership. Katz is doing what he can to turn that ship around, but you have a generation of bad choices to clean up.
      (insert comment about Rome and Time here)

      • D

        I think this hit the nail right on the head. We are dealing with a generation of bad management. It will take a few more years to clean it up, but I see the clean-up job happening. This organization is in a better position now than 3 years ago.

  • RexLibris

    The Devils had to forfeit sometime in the five years after the penalty was declared. They have this year and two more to go. My guess is that next year is more likely than this one, simply because of the depth. That being said, all it would take is for Brodeur to retire and a small turnover of forwards for the team to decline enough for that forfeited pick to really hurt them.

    Kovalchuk wasn’t worth it, in my mind. But I could be wrong.

    So who garners the Oilers another 1st round pick this year? Hemsky? It’s either him or a prospect like Paajarvi, perhaps. We don’t have anyone else that is so attractive to potential buyers and the league has too few Dean Lombardis and Mike Milburys from whom we can steal them.

    How about we trade Hemsky to Detroit for Jurco and a 1st, then before the draft we hire Jim Nill, that way he still gets to use that pick? Okay, maybe not, but it was worth the effort to write it.