This is Ales Hemsky. In the history of the Edmonton Oilers, he ranks 6th in career assists (forwards) and averages 46 assists per 82 games. Hemsky is a headliner in this edition of tracers, Oilers rookies volume 5.


One of the major themes of this era is injuries and they begin right away. The Oilers made what looked like a pretty good hockey trade when acquiring Paul Comrie. The young man looked good, but lost his career to concussions, the first of many in the decade to see their futures changed by injury.

  • Paul Comrie 15, 1-1-2
  • Mike Minard 1, 3.00 .917

Not at lot here, this was a period of transition for the hockey club, with Slats soon to be moving on and Lowe moving from coaching to the GM’s chair (with MacT arriving as head coach in fall 2000). The Comrie injury could have had major impact on the Oilers decade, both in losing a young scorer but also losing the impact he might have had in keeping his brother Mike Comrie in the fold. Hindsight is 20/20, but it’s a consideration.



  • Mike Comrie 41, 8-14-22
  • Shawn Horcoff 49, 9-7-16
  • Dom Pittis 47, 4-5-9
  • Dan Lacouture 37, 2-4-6
  • Brian Swanson 16, 1-1-2
  • Scott Ferguson 20, 0-1-1
  • Michel Riesen 12, 0-1-1

This was MacT’s first season as coach. Comrie came in around Christmas and had a solid debut, Horcoff was part of a very good 4line and Swanson-Riesen-Dan Cleary was an entire line from Hamilton that broke camp with the big club fall 2000. The best rookie in the group turned out to be Shawn Horcoff,a solid 2-way center for over a decade.


  • Jussi Markkanen 14, 1.84 .929

There should be a rule that states the Oilers must have a Finn on their roster at all times. Every trip to the finals has involved a Finn, what more need be said? Markkanen was an overager but I’m including him because of the impact he had on the club during his time in the NHL. Markkanen had a 2.17 GAA in the most important spring of his career, and is well remembered by Oiler fans.



  • Ales Hemsky 59, 6-24-30
  • Jason Chimera 66, 14-9-23
  • Fernando Pisani 35, 8-5-13
  • Alexei Semenov 46, 1-6-7
  • Ales Pisa 48, 1-3-4
  • Jani Rita 12, 3-1-4
  • Kari Haakana 13, 0-0-0

This was a strong rookie crop, effectively solving two holes on RW and giving the Oilers a bull in a china shop in Chimera. Hemsky’s impact on the Stanley run was impressive, but Pisani’s spring was one for the ages. It is not a stretch to say that a G7 win would have meant a Smythe trophy for Fernando, and among the men who have sailed on over the last decade none touched the heart of Oilers Nation like #34.



  • MA Bergeron 54, 9-17-26
  • Jarret Stoll 68, 10-11-21
  • Mike Bishai 14, 0-2-2
  • Tony Salmelainen 13, 0-1-1
  • Doug Lynch 2, 0-0-0
  • Ty Conklin 39, 2.42 .912

Another nice group. For as much crap as Bergeron took for coughing up pucks he was the best offensive defenseman this team procured in a long time. Stoll had footspeed issues but played well as an Oiler, and Lynch was trending nicely before an injury derailed his career. Another nice group.



The 02-03 and 03-04 rookie crops gave the 05-06 team a huge number of contracts that were low cost and high value: Hemsky, Pisani, Bergeron and Stoll. Those were very good young players, acquired via draft and signings of an undrafted amateur. Conklin and Bergeron are remembered for all kinds of reasons, but 2006 spring will live forever.


The best Oilers of this 5 year period:

  • GOAL: Jussi Markkanen, Ty Conklin
  • DEFENSE: MA Bergeron, Alexei Semenov
  • CENTER: Mike Comrie, Shawn Horcoff, Jarret Stoll
  • LEFT WING: Jason Chimera, Dan Lacouture
  • RIGHT WING: Ales Hemsky, Fernando Pisani

That’s a very nice group. Markkanen was an underrated goaltender, Bergeron has had a nice career,  Comrie did some things and Horcoff plus Stoll is very strong at center. Chimera has enjoyed a solid career and of course we’ve enjoyed both Hemsky and Pisani as Oilers.

A solid group, one of the best 5 year clusters in the group.

95-99 GROUP

  • 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 

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
  • 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 is one for the ages. Which remaining cluster would you rate the best?

  • Dustin Terpstra

    I would have to go with 00-05 some of those player could still reach new heights in their careers and what they have done already surpasses all the other group with exception of 79-84 of course

  • Lowetide

    Dustin: Agreed. The 00-04 and 95-99 groups are both superior to 85-89 and 90-94 bunch imo. Good trend, and of course the 06-10 group (the next 5 year run I’ll look at) should be strong too.

    The 11-15 group should be towering. TOWERING! 🙂

  • Quicksilver ballet

    As your article indicates there sure seems to be some thinning in the talent pool as the league expanded on a couple of occasions. The 21 team NHL was optimal from what i witnessed. There are just too many teams now and not enough qaulity players to go around.

    Maybe its time to dress only 16 skaters and 2 goalies for games now. 3 lines,3sets of D and perhaps a specialty player as a 10th forward.

    Start drafting 19yr olds. If one of your most recent kids drafted is close, you should have the option to send him to the AHL instead of back to junior.

  • justDOit

    Arg! This just brings up the same question for me: WHY was Markkanen in the press box and not the backup for game 1? He had played well that year before Rollie came in.

    Why, MacT, WHY?

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      He was out of hockey for a couple of years, after stints in Russia and Finland, but is now back playing for Lausanne in the Swiss second division (National League B).

  • 00-05 produced the second best rookies of those groups listed… Also, two of those “elite members” single-handedly lost us game 1 of the SCF.

    Will never forgive Conklin for that gaffe.

    Will never forgive Bergeron for torpedoing Ladd into Roloson.