Top 100: 96 down and four to go

So, here we are today with four names remaining on the Top 100 Edmonton Oilers of all-time list. It’s a project we started more than two years ago (Aug. 12, 2015) and that’s seen us run four profiles per month since the series began. It’s been a fun project and one, I hope, that’s generated some discussion and maybe brought back some memories or odds and ends you’d forgotten.

While there’s not much mystery left as to who the final four names are with 96 in the books – in no particular order, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson  – it was challenging to get this far, especially sorting out the top 20. I made no less than five different lists – tweaks mostly – since writing down my initial 100 names. A few players dropped off the bottom and many moved up or down, if only a place or two.

When the series started, I talked about what I’d be looking for in compiling the names. That’s here. In that item, I mentioned a couple of players, including, as an example, Chris Pronger. I had him 10th. He ended up slightly lower. The biggest change was the addition of Connor McDavid into the 7B slot behind Kevin Lowe – which actually makes this a Top 101 list. That was a result of the sheer length of the project.

Simply put, McDavid winning the Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring leader, the Hart Memorial Trophy as MVP and the Ted Lindsay Award during a season in which he led the Oilers to their first playoff berth since 2006, made it impossible to leave him off the list. The question was where, based on what he’s accomplished to this point and his overall impact on the franchise, he fit? Even without the Cup rings of those around him, I thought he belonged in the top-10.

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Apr 22, 2017; San Jose, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) celebrates with goalie Cam Talbot (33) after the win against the San Jose Sharks in game six of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center at San Jose. The Edmonton Oilers defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 to win the series. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

While I added McDavid, I left two players off the list who would certainly rank in the Top 100 if I was to remake it today – that’s Cam Talbot and Leon Draisaitl. If I was to re-do the list now, I’d simply bump a couple guys off the bottom altogether – would anybody miss Marc-Andre Bergeron at 100 or Dean McAmmond at No. 99? – and make room for them somewhere.

The problem was I was so far up the list by the time the playoffs ended, I couldn’t justify slotting them as high as I would have had to while removing others. It was a matter of the timing of their performances. Not having them on the Top 100 at all just seems off, though. If you were to write out a list today, where would you have Talbot and Draisaitl? Top 20? Top 30?

Likewise, if I was to make the list I started two years ago today, might Adam Larsson take the place of any of the D-men who made it? What about Oscar Klefbom? Today, I’m thinking either one of those two would fit in ahead of guys like, for example, Pat Price and Norm MacIver, to name just two. How high? Am I missing anybody else if I had a do-over right now? Kris Russell (I keed)?

Anyway, here we are with September and Gretzky, Messier, Kurri and Anderson coming up. With players filtering back into town and training camp not far off, the moving target that’s been the Top 100 list over the last two years will give way to another season and, at long last, some anticipation about how good the next edition of the Oilers might be. Looking forward will be fun, just as looking back has been with the four top Oilers of all-time to go. Here’s hoping the Top 100 list looks a lot different five years from now.

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