Canadian hockey fans wave a flag and display a banner. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
In honour of our great Nation’s 149th birthday, we’re counting down the top ten Oilers players who have red and white flowing through their veins. Throughout the franchise’s history, Oilers fans have had the privilege of watching many of the greats sporting the copper and blue as well as spending time with Team Canada. In today’s Top 10 Tuesday we look at the best Canadian players to ever wear an Oilers jersey.
TEN: TAYLOR HALL
Hall was born in Calgary to a father that played four seasons of professional football in the CFL and then went on to a bobsledding career (even appearing as a stuntman in Cool Runnings). Thankfully for Oilers fans (now NJ fans) and Canadian hockey fans in general, Hall followed in his father’s footsteps of being a professional athlete, obviously excelling at hockey.
Hall was a decorated athlete throughout his junior career, was drafted first overall in 2010 by the Oilers, and well… you know the rest. Taylor Hall has represented Canada on multiple occasions, recently bringing home a gold medal from the World Championships. Though he was an arguable omission from the World Cup roster, it’s safe to say that Canada hasn’t seen the last of Taylor Hall in the red and white.
NINE: JORDAN EBERLE
Do I even have to remind you of Ebs’ tying goal in the dying seconds of the semifinal game against Russia at the World Juniors? Eberle seemed to always score timely goals at the world juniors in his years of eligibility. His two late goals in the gold medal game against the USA placed him at the top of Canada’s WJC all time goal scorers. Unfortunately, Canada fell to the US in a shootout after Eberle’s heroics, but, needless to say, this gap-toothed beauty is a clutch goal scorer. Enough so that TSN placed the Saskatoon native in the number one spot on their Top 40 Canadian World Junior players of all time list.
With hands like his, it was also no surprise that his first NHL goal was nothing short of breathtaking. Though that goal didn’t win the game for the Oilers, the shorthanded backhander helped to seal the deal in a 4-0 win against the Flames, and boy was it a beauty!
EIGHT: BILL RANFORD
This Brandon, Manitoba, native was drafted 52nd overall by the Boston Bruins and went on to win his first Stanley Cup with the Oilers backing up Grant Fuhr. Ranford replaced an injured Fuhr and won his second Stanley Cup (and first Conn Smythe trophy) with the Oilers in 1990. This Cup would mark the end of the Oilers Dynasty, but not the end of Ranford’s successful career.
Ranford’s international resume is no less impressive as he went undefeated in his starting position in the 1991 Canada Cup. Ranford then backstopped Team Canada to their first World Championship win in over 30 years.
SEVEN: CHRIS PRONGER
Welp, let’s just say that we’re still looking for a defenseman that can match up to this guy (but who isn’t?). Going back to a time when an Oilers’ playoff appearance weren’t as rare as Halley’s Comet sightings, Pronger led the Oilers with 21 points in 24 games in their 2006 Stanley Cup run. As we all know, Pronger then asked for a trade out of Edmonton, which led to some bad blood between Oilers fans and the star defenseman. Hard feelings aside, there’s no denying Pronger’s contribution to the Oilers blue line as well as his international play: with two Olympic Gold Medals, a Stanley Cup, and a World Championship, the Dryden, Ontario, native is a member of the Triple Gold Club.
SIX: GRANT FUHR
Not only is Fuhr a Canadian, but he’s also a good ol’ Alberta boy. Drafted eighth overall by the Oilers, Fuhr played a crucial part in the Oilers Dynasty and he went on to win five Stanley Cups with the Oilers. Though his international play was limited (two World Cups and one World Championship), it’s hard to argue against the Great One’s claims that Fuhr is one of the best NHL goaltenders in history.
Fuhr was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003, and hey, if I had five Stanley Cup rings, I might party as hard as him too!
FIVE: PAUL COFFEY
Born in Weston, Ontario, Coffey was drafted sixth overall by the Oilers and went on to win three Stanley Cups with the franchise. Coffey is one of the most decorated NHL defenceman in history, and he is behind only Ray Bourque in career goals, assists, and points. Coffey’s four Stanley Cups (one with Pittsburgh), three Canada Cup titles, multiple NHL records, and an induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame are a clear indication of why he’s an all time great in Oilers and Canadian history.
FOUR: MARK MESSIER
As we get higher on the list the explanation for each choice seems less necessary as these guys all speak for themselves. Messier is a hometown Edmonton boy, drafted to his home team 48th overall where he went on to win five Cups with the Oilers and another with the NY Rangers. His international play is also a highlight as he won three golds and two silvers in international tournaments. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.
Messier remains in the Canadian spotlight as a spokesman for Rogers Communication. Looking back at the Moose’s achievements all we can say is… Woah.
THREE: CONNOR MCDAVID
Though he hasn’t had exactly had enough time to decorate himself with international accolades, I don’t think many would argue that his time is coming. From Richmond Hill, Ontario, McDavid was selected first overall in the 2015 NHL Draft by a very lucky Edmonton Oilers team. McDavid became the youngest player to win gold at the U-18 World Championships, the World Junior Championships, and the World Championships when he scored his timely lone (non-empty net goal) in the finals of the 2016 World Championships. Who knows, maybe a World Cup win will be added to his resume when he faces off with Team North America in September?
With a track record like this already, there’s no denying that Connor’s career is destined for greatness. One day we’ll all be ancient human beings and look back on the days when Connor McDavid saved the Oilers and led them to a second dynasty (we hope).
Captain Canada. You can’t have a list that involves the Oilers, Canada, and hockey and not have this guy on it. Coming from the girl who has #94 tattooed on her foot, Smytty would’ve been number one had it not been for some other dude named Gretzky. Sorry, Smytty, but I don’t think any would disagree. Regardless, our list remembers this Alberta boy for putting pucks in the net off his teeth, scoring on deadly wrap arounds, and taking clappers from the blue line with wooden blades that got the job done.
Though a Stanley Cup was never in the cards for Smytty, his international play is the most decorated of any other Canadian hockey player. This one’s going to have to be in list format:
Captained six World Championship teams & all time leader in games played in the tournament
Played a record 90 games for Hockey Canada
Only player in history to win gold in the Olympics, World Cup, World Championships, World Juniors, and the Spengler Cup
Need I say anything else?
ONE: THE GREAT ONE
From Oilers Dynasties to multiple international tournament medals, Gretzky is the best hockey player to have ever graced the ice. Rattling off all of his achievements and stats is unnecessary in comparison to simply referring back to his nickname, The Great One. As Oilers fans and Canadians, we’re just happy to call him a part of our identity. No one will ever be as special to the game, and to Canada, as this guy.
As with any other list, there’s room for disagreement as to who made the list and who did not so I ask you guys who you think are the great Canadian Oilers of all time?