PICKING THE TOP 100 OILERS

Best

Back on Aug. 5 we had the writers at Oilersnation put their heads together, come up with half-a-brain and compile what we considered the best 23-man roster of players who’d ever suited up for the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL.

Once we got past the no-brainers – Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and the other Boys on the Bus who reside in the HHOF – there was plenty of room for reasonable debate about who belonged on the roster, and that discussion was prompted without even ranking the players in any kind of overall order.

We’ve decided to take that exercise a step further with a much longer-term project. To that end, I’m compiling a list of the top 100 NHL Oilers of all-time, and starting in September we’ll be running stories on four players per month, starting from 100 and moving up the list. In other words, it’ll take about 25 months to run all the items.

I’ll be writing all 100 stories. They’ll essentially be profiles with some statistics, noteworthy career highlights and, hopefully, some perspective mixed in. That’s the easy part. What’s more difficult, at least from where I sit, is picking the top 100 players and then ranking them 1-100 based on their time in Edmonton, not their overall careers. That’s where I’d like some input from our readers.

ROOM FOR DEBATE

Debate

As I’m compiling my list, I’m weighting certain things more heavily than others. Notably, the first guys on my list are those who contributed to all those Stanley Cup parades on Jasper Ave. For me, a player who was a member of multiple Stanley Cup winners, even as a role player, is going to make that list of 100, likely in the top-25.

There are exceptions, of course. Not to give away too much, but I’ve got Chris Pronger ranked No. 10 despite the fact he only played one season in Edmonton and never got a ring, coming up a win short with the 2006 Oilers in Carolina. Too high?

Some will say yes, especially when you consider I’ve got Cup winners like Bill Ranford (12th), Craig Simpson (16th) and Dave Hunter (19th) ranked behind him. I say that 2006 Edmonton team doesn’t get within a $10 cab ride of Game 7 without the Human Rake, so I put him there. That’s where there’s room for debate. And it gets muddier the further down the list you go.

As for where current Oiler players rank on the list, that’s a tough call because even the top players with this edition of the team haven’t been here long and they’ve been the best players on a very bad team that’s won nothing.

I have just three – Taylor Hall (31st), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (39th) and Jordan Eberle (40th). Are they better players, individually, than many of those I have ranked higher, like Kelly Buchberger, Jaroslav Pouzar and Dave Lumley? Sure. Have they made the same mark, had the same success? No.

TOUGH CALLS

NothingIsEasy

I scratched out my preliminary top-10 and it was pretty easy, although I bet I’ll get an argument on Steve Smith and maybe even Pronger (and I’ll listen to them). It looks like this:

1. Wayne Gretzky

2. Mark Messier

3. Jari Kurri

4. Glen Anderson

5. Paul Coffey

6. Grant Fuhr

7. Kevin Lowe

8. Charlie Huddy

9. Steve Smith

10. Chris Pronger

As an example, who do you think should rate higher on the top-100, a tough guy like Kevin McClelland who played a support role and won Cups or a wonderfully skilled player like Ales Hemsky, who won zippo? I have both of them on my list but they’re 21 spots apart – not saying who is higher.

Do Sergei Samsonov, Dick Tarnstrom and Jaroslav Spacek, part of that 2006 team, make the list? Not for me, but Tom Poti does. As I see it, the object of the exercise is about getting the top-100 more than it is about arguing why a given player is 73rd instead of 67th. The difference between places that far down the list is razor thin. Any one-year wonders, aside from Pronger, you think should make the list? Who’s the most underrated? How about overrated?

I’m not asking for you to submit ordered lists of 100 – you can if you have too much time on your hands – but I welcome your input and, chances are, it will lead to me tweaking my list between now and when I finalize it and start writing the profiles in September.

And, no, I won’t be putting Connor McDavid on the list before he’s played a single game with the Oilers. I might, however, be forced to reconsider if he belongs after this season and if Hall, RNH and Eberle deserve to be moved up or down.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

  • bored

    Cujo vs Ranford?

    I’m a believer that Cujo is the best goalie that has played for the Oilers – but I still have Fuhr ahead on this list.

    Ranford has the Conn Smythe on the only Gretzky-less Cup in history…Cujo stole 2 playoff series in 2 years with an inferior team.

    It’s a toss up.

  • The Soup Fascist

    What, no Don Jackson and Dr. Randy Gregg!?

    All I remember growing up watching the 80’s Oilers with my Dad was him yelling “awe not again Jackson, you BUM!!” haha!!

  • BobbyCanuck

    Hey Robin,

    How abut an all-Star Bruiser Team?

    1st Unit:

    Dave Brown – Dave Semenko – Georges Laraque

    Dave Manson – Bryan Marchment

    Now, that is a line up I would not want to piss off in a back alley

  • Wax Man Riley

    Mark Lamb?

    lol

    I think it was in NHL ’94 the only way you could score with the Oilers was Weight to Ciger..

    What about Bob Beers… because, well… BEERS!

    What about goalies? Cujo?

  • Awesome idea! Can wait for the articles.

    As for your top 10, I’m great with 1 through 6, then things shift around for me a bit.

    7. Weight
    8. Lowe
    9. Huddy
    10. Smyth
    11. Cujo
    12. Simpson
    13. Moog
    14. Smith
    15. Ranford (if you judge Pronger on a playoff – how about Billy?)
    16. Tikkanen
    17. Guerin
    18. Pronger
    19. Gregg
    20. Muni

    Some names I don’t often hear mentioned but would love to see in the list are: Norm McIver, Igor Kravchuk, Zdeno Ciger, Luke Richardson, Dean McAmmond, and Joe Murphy.

  • 1. Wayne Gretzky

    2. Mark Messier

    3. Jari Kurri

    4. Glen Anderson

    5. Paul Coffey

    6. Grant Fuhr

    I really believe your number 6 is really number 3!
    No disrespect to Jari, Glen or Paul but really Grant by Gretz’s own admission was the backbone. Because they knew they could just run a pond hockey D (one back go for it) and still win with him in net!
    And on number 10, yes Pronger was the key in that latest run bu,t number 10 should be the spot Esa Tikkanen if not slightly higher than 10. He could do it all pretty much, the only man to ever as far as i’ve seen shutdown Gretz also. Very talented at what he brought to the team.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Is there any love for the play-off hired gun, Rexi Ruotsalainen, or for the magic man, Kent Neilson who was a major player on the 1987 winning team?

  • I couldn’t help myself…

    1. Wayne Gretzky: 696 gp | 1669 pts (2.398 pts/gp)

    2. Mark Messier: 851 gp | 1034 pts (1.215 pts/gp)

    3. Jari Kurri: 754 gp | 1043 pts (1.383 pts/gp)

    4. Paul Coffey: 532 gp | 669 pts (1.258 pts/gp)

    5. Glenn Anderson: 845 gp | 906 pts (1.072 pts/gp)

    6. Grant Fuhr: 423 gp | 36 pts (0.085 pts/gp)

    7. Doug Weight: 588 gp | 577 pts (0.981 pts/gp)

    8. Kevin Lowe: 1037 gp | 384 pts (0.370 pts/gp)

    9. Charlie Huddy: 694 gp | 368 pts (0.530 pts/gp)

    10. Ryan Smyth: 971 gp | 631 pts (0.650 pts/gp)

    11. Curtis Joseph: 177 gp | 5 pts (0.028 pts/gp)

    12. Craig Simpson: 419 gp | 365 pts (0.871 pts/gp)

    13. Andy Moog: 235 gp | 11 pts (0.047 pts/gp)

    14. Steve Smith: 385 gp | 218 pts (0.566 pts/gp)

    15. Bill Ranford: 449 gp | 19 pts (0.042 pts/gp)

    16. Esa Tikkanen: 522 gp | 436 pts (0.835 pts/gp)

    17. Bill Guerin: 211 gp | 161 pts (0.763 pts/gp)

    18. Chris Pronger: 80 gp | 56 pts (0.700 pts/gp)

    19. Randy Gregg: 453 gp | 188 pts (0.415 pts/gp)

    20. Craig Muni: 493 gp | 111 pts (0.225 pts/gp)

    21. Taylor Hall: 299 gp | 263 pts (0.880 pts/gp)

    22. Shawn Horcoff: 796 gp | 447 pts (0.562 pts/gp)

    23. Ken Linseman: 200 gp | 178 pts (0.890 pts/gp)

    24. Ales Hemsky: 652 gp | 477 pts (0.732 pts/gp)

    25. Craig MacTavish: 701 gp | 331 pts (0.472 pts/gp)

    26. Jordan Eberle: 356 gp | 284 pts (0.798 pts/gp)

    27. Jimmy Carson: 84 gp | 103 pts (1.226 pts/gp)

    28. Blair MacDonald: 131 gp | 137 pts (1.046 pts/gp)

    29. Jason Arnott: 286 gp | 239 pts (0.836 pts/gp)

    30. Dwayne Roloson: 193 gp | 6 pts (0.031 pts/gp)

    31. Dave Hunter: 653 gp | 290 pts (0.444 pts/gp)

    32. Jason Smith: 542 gp | 113 pts (0.208 pts/gp)

    33. Reijo Ruotsalainen: 26 gp | 21 pts (0.808 pts/gp)

    34. Mike Krushelnyski: 290 gp | 226 pts (0.779 pts/gp)

    35. Todd Marchant: 678 gp | 343 pts (0.506 pts/gp)

    36. Kelly Buchberger: 795 gp | 240 pts (0.302 pts/gp)

    37. Petr Klima: 274 gp | 209 pts (0.763 pts/gp)

    38. Vincent Damphousse: 80 gp | 89 pts (1.113 pts/gp)

    39. Janne Niinimaa: 399 gp | 188 pts (0.471 pts/gp)

    40. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 258 gp | 188 pts (0.729 pts/gp)

    41. Joe Murphy: 222 gp | 169 pts (0.761 pts/gp)

    42. Pat Hughes: 300 gp | 171 pts (0.570 pts/gp)

    43. Roman Hamrlik: 196 gp | 103 pts (0.526 pts/gp)

    44. Kent Nilsson: 23 gp | 18 pts (0.783 pts/gp)

    45. Ethan Moreau: 653 gp | 212 pts (0.325 pts/gp)

    46. Eric Brewer: 315 gp | 100 pts (0.317 pts/gp)

    47. Lee Fogolin: 586 gp | 161 pts (0.275 pts/gp)

    48. Zdeno Ciger: 204 gp | 155 pts (0.760 pts/gp)

    49. Bernie Nicholls: 95 gp | 89 pts (0.937 pts/gp)

    50. Dave Lumley: 386 gp | 230 pts (0.596 pts/gp)

    51. Dave Semenko: 454 gp | 136 pts (0.300 pts/gp)

    52. Kevin McClelland: 428 gp | 150 pts (0.350 pts/gp)

    53. Marty McSorley: 206 gp | 60 pts (0.291 pts/gp)

    54. Mike Grier: 448 gp | 183 pts (0.408 pts/gp)

    55. Adam Graves: 139 gp | 46 pts (0.331 pts/gp)

    56. Anson Carter: 211 gp | 157 pts (0.744 pts/gp)

    57. Matti Hagman: 147 gp | 112 pts (0.762 pts/gp)

    58. Sam Gagner: 481 gp | 295 pts (0.613 pts/gp)

    59. Martin Gelinas: 258 gp | 120 pts (0.465 pts/gp)

    60. Tommy Salo: 334 gp | 4 pts (0.012 pts/gp)

    61. Mike Comrie: 235 gp | 154 pts (0.655 pts/gp)

    62. Georges Laraque: 490 gp | 111 pts (0.227 pts/gp)

    63. Lubomir Visnovsky: 107 gp | 63 pts (0.589 pts/gp)

    64. Dave Manson: 219 gp | 108 pts (0.493 pts/gp)

    65. Boris Mironov: 320 gp | 160 pts (0.500 pts/gp)

    66. Luke Richardson: 436 gp | 78 pts (0.179 pts/gp)

    67. Dustin Penner: 304 gp | 186 pts (0.612 pts/gp)

    68. Anatoli Semenov: 116 gp | 73 pts (0.629 pts/gp)

    69. Steve Staios: 573 gp | 146 pts (0.255 pts/gp)

    70. Dave Brown: 140 gp | 15 pts (0.107 pts/gp)

    71. Igor Kravchuk: 160 gp | 88 pts (0.550 pts/gp)

    72. Norm Maciver: 79 gp | 47 pts (0.595 pts/gp)

    73. Mark Napier: 175 gp | 112 pts (0.640 pts/gp)

    74. Jaroslav Spacek: 31 gp | 19 pts (0.613 pts/gp)

    75. Risto Siltanen: 206 gp | 151 pts (0.733 pts/gp)

    76. Bryan Marchment: 216 gp | 44 pts (0.204 pts/gp)

    77. Tom Gilbert: 384 gp | 158 pts (0.411 pts/gp)

    78. Jarret Stoll: 286 gp | 165 pts (0.577 pts/gp)

    79. Devan Dubnyk: 171 gp | 1 pts (0.006 pts/gp)

    80. Andrew Cogliano: 328 gp | 146 pts (0.445 pts/gp)

    81. Mike York: 144 gp | 97 pts (0.674 pts/gp)

    82. Scott Thornton: 209 gp | 53 pts (0.254 pts/gp)

    83. Scott Mellanby: 149 gp | 82 pts (0.550 pts/gp)

    84. Raffi Torres: 276 gp | 120 pts (0.435 pts/gp)

    85. Dean McAmmond: 303 gp | 161 pts (0.531 pts/gp)

    86. Rem Murray: 425 gp | 164 pts (0.386 pts/gp)

    87. Mike Peca: 71 gp | 23 pts (0.324 pts/gp)

    88. Jeff Beukeboom: 284 gp | 69 pts (0.243 pts/gp)

    89. David Perron: 116 gp | 76 pts (0.655 pts/gp)

    90. Andrei Kovalenko: 176 gp | 109 pts (0.619 pts/gp)

    91. Sheldon Souray: 144 gp | 76 pts (0.528 pts/gp)

    92. Mariusz Czerkawski: 113 gp | 76 pts (0.673 pts/gp)

    93. Tom Poti: 285 gp | 105 pts (0.368 pts/gp)

    94. Jeff Petry: 295 gp | 74 pts (0.251 pts/gp)

    95. Louie DeBrusk: 228 gp | 31 pts (0.136 pts/gp)

    96. Kirk Maltby: 164 gp | 38 pts (0.232 pts/gp)

    97. Fernando Pisani: 402 gp | 153 pts (0.381 pts/gp)

    98. Petr Sykora: 82 gp | 53 pts (0.646 pts/gp)

    99. Igor Ulanov: 160 gp | 53 pts (0.331 pts/gp)

    100. Boyd Gordon: 142 gp | 34 pts (0.239 pts/gp)

    Honorary banner for WHA time served: Al Hamilton

    Just missed the cut: Hecht, Pouzar, Reasoner, Lupul, Hendricks, Samsonov

    On the rise: Nurse, Klefbom, Draisaitl, Yakupov, Schultz

    Notable ommissions: Ference (C), Corson (C), MAB, Oliver, Glencross, Satan, Callighen, Khabibulin

    • Spydyr

      WOW, great list and thank you.
      Obviously not counting the Oiler greats, my all time favourite Oiler
      players were Cujo, Todd Marchant, Mike Grier.
      Absolutely true professionals.

      On another note to the Nation writers, could someone follow up with articles
      Of the ex-Oilers where and what are they up to now.

      Once an Oiler, Always an Oiler

    • ubermiguel

      Well done. A few comments. Conn Smythe winning Ranford just has to be above own-goal scoring Smith. Spacek and Gilbert seem too high. I’m torn on excluding Corson; off-ice issues aside he’s better than some of the guys on that list; would hate to seem him bump Gordon off the list though. Ryan Whitney played well while he was here, he’s missing. I don’t remember much about Maltby as an Oiler; his Red Wing career was been far better.

      • Thanks for the feedback!

        I honestly only put an hour or so in to it. Getting it down to 180 from ~500 was really fast, but really struggled with the rest of the cuts. I think if I put a little more time in to the order I’d shift things a bit.

        I can’t argue much on Ranford. I could even justify moving him ahead of Moog & maybe even Cujo. Maltby was one of my favourite players when he came in to the league and I hated that they traded him – although I also liked Dan McGillis a lot.

        I can defend the Gilbert pick – think he’s still really underrated, but you may be right on Spacek. The thing I liked about him is how he served as such a great compliment to Pronger. Tarnstrom was negligible, but I don’t know if the Oilers would have got in to the playoffs nor as far if Spacek didn’t come in and change the dynamic of the team’s D.

        Corson was really tough too. I actually started slotting him in pretty high (in the 50s) and then as I was comparing him head-to-head against other players he just constantly slipped down and then off the list.

    • Canoe Ride 27.1

      Good work MrMackey. I think we can agree no two lists will be the same, probably not even the top 10. Too deep and too subjective. Thanks for bringing some objectivity to the table with GP and PTS.

      I like that Captain Canada and Dougie Weight make the top 10. I would hope we could all agree on that.

      29 days till Penticton!

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    Doug Weight is top 10 for me, and Smyth probably gets a nod as well with Lowe and Pronger coming off. Hard list to compile, especially considering most of your readers (myself included) never had the luxury of watching the ’80s Oilers.

  • That’s a different series, but it would be nearly as interesting. Who was the toughest thug to wear an Oil Drop? Steve MacIntyre didn’t play many shifts, but the punch that he dropped Raitis Ivanans with belongs in the Hall of Fame.