TOP DRAWER

 

There was a time in my life when this hockey card was my prize possession. I hid it in a shoe box, top drawer of my dresser, and Orr was hidden at the bottom–I felt thieves would go after the Leafs and Golden Seals at the top. I had the entire set (that’s a story for .another day) but the Orr card had special value. He was my hero, but he was also the very best player on the very best team–the Boston Bruins of my youth. 

Choosing Orr as #1 among men like Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, Wayne Cashman, Johnny McKenzie, Johnny Bucyk, Dallas Smith, Gerry Cheevers and Derek Sanderson was easy–Orr was so unique as a player even the older men would tell you he was the bet hockey player alive in 1971. (Note: My Mom threw the entire shoebox out my first summer working away from home. Seriously. The entire 1970-71 collection–Ken Dryden’s rookie card was part of that collection).

I think we all have our own personal "pecking order" for our favorite teams. Take the current Oilers. Our man Wanye clearly values his Jordan Eberle bobblehead beyond any other, while I believe Taylor Hall is the top drawer talent. I’ve read many posters online suggest "the Nuge" may end up being the best talent–hell Jonathan Willis himself has waxed poetic on that very subject. 

And what of the outsider, the Russian, the Nail? WHAT IF he’s the best of the bunch? 

MY "TOP DRAWER" LIST

For me, Taylor Hall has been #1 on the list since this goal in December 2010 (it was in OT, and a winner). He’s the first of the kids to push the river, his secondary numbers tower over the others and he’s going to be a star in Eric T’s "zone entry" revolution I just know it. 

However, that’s my opinion. That and $5 get you most of a cup of coffee these days, and there are some outstanding candidates for #1 on this Oilers team. 

  • Jordan Eberle, ridiculous scorer with soft hands. He’s so smooth he’s Don Juan on ice. 
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, sees the ice and dishes passes so beautifully it borders on the impossible. If he continues his current pace on the powerplay, he’ll soon erase the days of "MacTavish powerplays" which features things like a broken Mike York and a healthy Toby Petersen in our 5×4 memory banks.
  • Nail Yakupov, who posted two more assists this morning and is having an outstanding season (18, 10-8-18) for Neftekhimik. 
  • Justin Schultz, the young man who has taken the AHL by storm and given Oiler fans one more reason to be excited for next NHL season.

THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE

My favorite Boys on the Bus member was Mark Messier, and Jari Kurri wasn’t far behind. I was in absolute awe of Gretzky, and maybe that’s why Messier was my favorite (it also probably didn’t help that my buddy Lorne kept saying 99 was better than Orr) but I think there’s something else at work here: it is not clearly established at this time which of these young players will have the highest ceiling and which of them will have health on their side. 

Its an interesting question. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Five years from now, we should have a clear order 1-5 for this group. If you ask me which player will end up being the best in the group, my current order is this:

  1. Taylor Hall
  2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
  3. Nail Yakupov
  4. Jordan Eberle
  5. Justin Schultz

 Two things: 

  1. What does your list look like?
  2. Don’t tell Wanye I put Eberle at #4. 

 

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    The Mess for sure was the beast of that era for me.

    The Gre was always a bit too otherworldly to properly idolize. Mess, with all his wandering elbows, was much more relatable.

    I agree with Kurri too. Him and Tik were like an alien snipper/mercenary pair.

    Current magic: Hall, RNH, Yak, Sch, Ebs.

  • #1 Nuge
    #2 Eberle
    #3 Hall
    #4 Yak
    #5 Schultz

    1) Nuge is a wizard. A WIZARD. How he does what he does to Professional Penalty Killers at an age where he is still eligible to play in the Juniour Championships is beyond me. If there was 1 untradable player on the Oilers, it would be RNH.

    2) Eberle is an All-Star. He sees the ice like few players in the NHL, he has a killer instict, and he’s clutch. And I dont care that “being clutch” is something impossible to quantify. He’s clutch. I know it, you know it, the other teams know it. Clutch.

    3) I appreciate the motor that never quits, but on a car with no brakes it makes for some dangerous driving. Taylor Hall has some very good qualities. I dont think he has the finishing ability of an Eberle or maybe even Yakupov, but the kid can skate and carry the puck like no one’s business. It’s too bad that he’s injury prone.

    4) I’ve only seen this kid play in replays from the Siberian Leagues. I reserve the right to slot him or Schultz further up this list at a later date. However, his one-timer looks like it could give goaltenders night terrors. I am excited about this player.

    5) Too good to be true. That’s what I’ve been telling myself since the rumour first came out that he wouldnt sign with the Ducks and the Oilers were a front runner. That statement has followed his career into pro hockey where he is still too good to be true. How can this rookie defenseman be leading the Barons and the AHL in scoring on a team with Nuge, Hall, and Eberle? Too good to be true.

  • My take is based on the adage that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

    I see Jordan as the best due to his terrific career in Juniors, worlds and NHL to date.

    Then I think it will be a tossup between RNH and Hall but it will depend on their injury history as I question Hall’s ability to stay healthy and RNH’s shoulder injury last year makes me nervous.

    Yakupov is probably next, as he needs to learn the ropes, with Schultz bringing up the rear.I don’t think Schultz will get the ice time that he does now. He will have to learn some defence so his 5 on 5 time will be less than he has had but he should still get some significant PP time (if he has success).

  • ClosetGM

    1. Eberle Hall Schultz Yak RNH
    2. Gagner

    Some will say taking the easy way out. But as I see it obviously there will be arguments about who is better and points and games played will be able to determine in the end who is the best player. That being said when its all said and done and if these kids can stay together, everyone will be looking back going wow wtf just happened. All six of these players are very good to elite NHL players. I just can’t wait for hockey to start again.

  • If “best” means “best overall career”, like your pitch to make the hall of fame, then this:

    1. Eberle
    2. Schultz
    3. Yakupov
    4. Nuge
    5. Hall

    Ebs and Schultz at the top based on how I’ve seen them think the game, and their comments/personality/work ethic. They both seem in the best position to avoid injury and consistently improve as offensive stars throughout a long, successful career.

    Yak has one of the best allround offensive games I’ve ever seen at his age, combined with his clear overwhelming desire to win, suggests to me he will be a star. A hunch puts him below the other two as I expect his time in edm/nhl to be more abbreviated.

    Nuge and Hall last, Ouch. Despite being incredible talents, both seem slightly more one dimensional than the rest, and with their style, I question their ability to stay healthy over a long career.

    If “best” means “favourite”, than this is mine:

    1. Hall
    2. Ebs
    3. Yakupov
    4. Schultz
    5. Nuge

    No point with justification, pure personal preference..

    As an oilers fan, putting those 5 in order felt like a psychometric instrument. It could change daily, and make yourself second guess yourself 10x over. I mean, until today I was pretty sure Ebs was my fav but wouldn’t have the career of the others, now re-reading my lists above I’ve clearly been drinking my own kool-aid.