TOP 100 OILERS: ZDENO CIGER (67)

Ciger

Zdeno Ciger is one of those players who always left me wanting more. In his case because I thought we were just starting to see the best of Ciger when he opted to call an end to his time with the awful Edmonton Oiler teams of the early 1990s and go home to Slovakia.

Having endured parts of four utterly forgettable seasons in Edmonton, 1992-93 to 1995-96, with an Oiler team that missed the playoffs every year he was here, Ciger was coming off the most productive campaign of his NHL career when he decided to go home rather than toil in a half-empty building for a team that was truly atrocious in the have-not days.

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Zdeno Ciger

Left Wing — shoots L

Born Oct 19 1969 — Martin, Slovakia  


Height 6.01 — Weight 190 [185 cm/86 kg]

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Drafted by New Jersey Devils


Round 3 #54 overall 1988 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Tm

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GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

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S%

ATOI

1990-91

NJD

45

8

17

25

3

8

9.8

1991-92

NJD

20

6

5

11

-2

10

18.2

1992-93

TOT

64

13

23

36

-13

8

12.3

1992-93

NJD

27

4

8

12

-8

2

10.3

1992-93

EDM

37

9

15

24

-5

6

13.4

1993-94

EDM

84

22

35

57

-11

8

13.9

1994-95

EDM

5

2

2

4

-1

0

20.0

1995-96

EDM

78

31

39

70

-15

41

16.8

2001-02

TOT

56

12

13

25

-15

26

13.0

15:17

2001-02

NYR

29

6

7

13

-3

16

12.5

14:30

2001-02

TBL

27

6

6

12

-12

10

13.6

16:08

4 yrs

EDM

204

64

91

155

-32

55

15.3

3 yrs

NJD

92

18

30

48

-7

20

11.7

1 yr

NYR

29

6

7

13

-3

16

12.5

14:30

1 yr

TBL

27

6

6

12

-12

10

13.6

16:08

Career

352

94

134

228

-54

101

14.1

15:17

NOTABLE

Obtained during the 1992-93 season from the New Jersey Devils with Kevin Todd for Bernie Nicholls, Ciger finished second to Doug Weight in team scoring with 31-39-70 in 78 games in 1995-96 – that on a team that won just 30 games and finished with 68 points under coach Ron Low.

In the only two full seasons he played with the Oilers, Ciger, originally drafted 54th overall by the Devils in 1988, scored 22-35-57 (1993-94) and had the 70-point season. Ciger didn’t always bring it – nobody does – but he had a knack for finding open ice and gifted mitts when he managed to find that ice and somebody actually got him the puck at the same time.

Ciger had a career 14.1 shooting percentage in the NHL. That includes a 15.3 percentage in the 204 games he played with the Oilers. If nothing else, Ciger knew how to finish on a slate of teams that didn’t have nearly enough of that on a roster picked clean by the cost-cutting measures owner Peter Pocklington saddled his hockey ops people with. 

THE STORY

The Oilers were coming off the worst four seasons in franchise history when Ciger decided he’d be better off and happier playing a shorter season for HC Slovan Harvard Bratislava in Slovakia than hanging around. Ciger was just 26 years old when he made the call.

While it’s impossible to know whether Ciger would have matched or bettered that 70-point season had he stuck around another few seasons, he was just entering his prime years. The season after he left, the Oilers began a string of five straight seasons back in the playoffs, a stretch that began with a first-round upset of the Dallas Stars.

While Ciger would eventually return to the NHL in 2001-02 when he signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers, his best years came in Edmonton without a whole lot around him to work with. A bright light in some dark times was the gifted Slovakian winger.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up. 


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

PREVIOUSLY:


  • Great White

    I’ve long maintained that Czechs and Slovaks are the Canadians of Europe. Their style of play has always been appreciated in Edmonton.

    Satan, Ziger, Dvorak, Nedved, Hemsky, Sykora, and now Sekera.

    To elaborate, the Russians can be too individualistic/flashy, and the Swedes tend to be soft.

      • Great White

        My friend Dwayne Hay played 80 games in the NHL before playing Division 1 in Sweden for Örebro HK.

        He couldn’t believe the lack of intensity. He would be putting guys through the glass every night and there was never any push back. Everyone was focused on smooth skating and positioning so when a Canadian farmboy shows up the Swedes were at a loss.

        I think the combination of large ice and more focus on positioning leads to less aggressiveness. So yes, I believe Swedes tend to be softer than Canadians.

      • Great White

        God forbid someone should notice that NHL enforcers don’t usually come from Stockholm, Sweden.

        Yes, Zetterberg, Forsberg, and Kronwall would eat my lunch and steal my girlfriend, but on the whole, the pattern seems to indicate that Swedish players aren’t killing penalties or fighting or grinding.

        Samuel Pahlsson and Marcus Krueger are not the norm, they are exceptions.

  • Oil City Roller

    A guy would rather go back to Slovakia than play for the Oilers. These season recaps really remind a guy of just how stank the Oilers are and have been. All the old geezers crow on about the 80’s but really, the Oilers have been a garbage fest for most of their existence.

    • R U Kidding Me!

      That’s a little harsh. I would say for the last decade that is true but 7 finals appearances in 37 years in the league is pretty good.

      Also remember that since the Oilers inception into the NHL no other team has won as many cups as the Oilers.

      Think about all the teams that have never won a cup or even made it to the Finals.

  • Back in my day you were allowed to go downstairs and stand out front of the dressing room and wait for autographs. Zdeno Ciger signed my game program for me and it was my most prized possession for years. Love that guy.

  • Borbs

    One night, in Ciger’s last season, I sat beside a sweet little old lady who was his biggest fan. I don’t remember who was in town that night, or if the Oilers even won, but I remember her. Every single time Ciger had a shot on goal, and he had a decent game that night, this lady would yell, “Close, but NO CIGER!” Seriously, every time. You think a person sitting next to her would get tired of this, but no. She made that game so much better with that inventive(!) cheer. The rest of the drunks in the bleeders mentioned more than once, just how jealous they were that this retiree beat them to the punch on this one. It got funnier with every beer I had, and my bud and I made sure to compliment her on her wittiness before we left. Ah, memories!!

  • Rod the Viking

    I remember being at the first game in Edmonton after the trade, Ciger had a really good game and Todd scored the winning goal, not sure if he ever scored again for the Oilers after that.