16

Top 10 Who Got Away: Kirk Maltby (9)

Wrong place. Wrong time. If you subscribe to the theory that timing is everything, there’s not much argument Kirk Maltby’s arrival with the Edmonton Oilers for the 1993-94 season was about as lousy as it gets. With five Stanley Cups in the trophy case and the dynasty teams dismantled, Maltby joined an Oiler outfit that missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history the previous season and would do so for another three straight years – the span of Maltby’s tenure in Edmonton.

While Maltby scored 50 goals with the Owen Sounds Platers in 1991-92, prompting the Oilers to take him 65th overall as a 19-year-old after he was passed over in his first year of draft eligibility, his future was as a bottom-six winger, a checking forward. The problem is, the Oilers, stripped of high-end players, had plenty of guys just like him. Essentially, Maltby got lost in the shuffle. He was just 23 when GM Glen Sather traded him to the Detroit Red Wings for Dan McGillis. Maltby went on to spend parts of 14 seasons in the Motor City, grinding, yapping and checking his way to four Stanley Cups.

Kirk Maltby

Left Wing — shoots R
Born Dec 22 1972 — Guelph, ONT
Height 6.00 — Weight 200 [183 cm/91 kg]

Drafted by Edmonton Oilers

Round 3 #65 overall 1992 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

ATOI

1993-94

21

EDM

68

11

8

19

-2

74

89

12.4

1994-95

22

EDM

47

8

3

11

-11

49

73

11.0

1995-96

23

TOT

55

3

6

9

-16

67

55

5.5

1995-96

23

EDM

49

2

6

8

-16

61

51

3.9

1995-96

23

DET

6

1

0

1

0

6

4

25.0

1996-97

24

DET

66

3

5

8

3

75

62

4.8

1997-98

25

DET

65

14

9

23

11

89

106

13.2

1998-99

26

DET

53

8

6

14

-6

34

76

10.5

13:13

1999-00

27

DET

41

6

8

14

1

24

71

8.5

13:30

2000-01

28

DET

79

12

7

19

16

22

119

10.1

14:17

2001-02

29

DET

82

9

15

24

15

40

108

8.3

13:23

2002-03

30

DET

82

14

23

37

17

91

116

12.1

16:10

2003-04

31

DET

79

14

19

33

24

80

123

11.4

16:16

2005-06

33

DET

82

5

6

11

-9

80

115

4.3

13:44

2006-07

34

DET

82

6

5

11

-9

50

113

5.3

13:11

2007-08

35

DET

61

6

4

10

-8

32

70

8.6

12:04

2008-09

36

DET

78

5

6

11

-9

28

58

8.6

9:08

2009-10

37

DET

52

4

2

6

1

32

43

9.3

10:06

14 yrs DET

908

107

115

222

47

683

1184

9.0

13:19

3 yrs EDM

164

21

17

38

-29

184

213

9.9

Career

1072

128

132

260

18

867

1397

9.2

13:19

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S%

ATOI

1995-96

23

DET

8

0

1

1

0

4

0.0

1996-97

24

DET

20

5

2

7

6

24

14.3

1997-98

25

DET

22

3

1

4

2

30

9.7

1998-99

26

DET

10

1

0

1

-2

8

7.7

11:32

1999-00

27

DET

8

0

1

1

0

4

0.0

13:45

2000-01

28

DET

6

0

0

0

-3

6

0.0

15:23

2001-02

29

DET

23

3

3

6

7

32

8.3

16:34

2002-03

30

DET

4

0

0

0

-2

4

0.0

17:18

2003-04

31

DET

12

1

3

4

2

11

5.6

17:34

2005-06

33

DET

6

2

1

3

2

4

16.7

13:02

2006-07

34

DET

18

1

1

2

0

10

5.0

10:46

2007-08

35

DET

12

0

1

1

0

10

0.0

9:47

2008-09

36

DET

20

0

1

1

-1

2

0.0

9:07

Career

169

16

15

31

11

149

7.3

13:02

WITH THE OILERS

LOCAL CAPTION: Leafs defenceman Todd Gill does his chin-up exercises on Oilers Kirk Maltby in front of goalie Felix Potvin.

While hindsight tells us Sather sent away the wrong player for McGillis, who was a decent return when the deal was made, one look at the roster during those days when the team was lousy and the building was half-empty shows a scarcity of talent but a surplus of bottom-six guys like Maltby. After Doug Weight and Jason Arnott on top, there was Craig MacTavish, Kelly Buchberger, Todd Marchant, Shjon Podein, Steven Rice, Tyler Wright, Scott Thornton, Dean McAmmond, Louie DeBrusk and Scott Pearson hanging around during Maltby’s time here.

It’s not like Maltby disappointed during his time in Edmonton. He played the role asked of him by coach Ted Green. His best season with Edmonton was his first one when he chipped in 11-8-19 in 68 games. His calling card was the ability to kill penalties, check and agitate. Maltby could grind opponents physically and verbally – traits he refined in Detroit – but that wasn’t enough to keep him here with Sather scrambling to rebuild. Slats needed help on the blueline, so in came McGillis and out went Maltby.

DOWN THE ROAD

The timing was perfect for Maltby. Detroit had veteran skill up front in Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov and Igor Larionov, plus Nicklas Lidstrom on the blueline. What the Red Wings needed was some sandpaper in the bottom six. They got that in Maltby. When coach Scotty Bowman put him on left wing with Kris Draper at centre and either Darren McCarty or Joey Kocur on right wing, the Grind Line was born. In the 1997 Stanley Cup final against Philadelphia, Bowman hard-matched the threesome against the Legion of Doom — Eric Lindros, John LeClair and Mikhael Renberg. The Red Wings swept the Flyers.

Maltby sipped from his second Cup the next season, 1997-98, and raised the silverware again in 2002 and 2008. Maltby’s best season numbers-wise was 2002-03 when he scored 14-23-37 to go with a handful of votes for the Frank Selke Trophy as top defensive forward (he finished 12th in voting and seventh the following season). You can make an argument Maltby had a better career than any of the players Sather kept ahead of him in his bottom-six mix, save for maybe MacTavish and Buchberger, but it wasn’t to be, at least not in Oiler silks.

This series of various Top 10 lists will focus on the post-1990 Oilers – the players who haven’t played on a Stanley Cup winner in Edmonton.

RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  



  • Leaking5w-30

    Always liked Maltby. As much as I hated seeing the redwings winning cups buy outspending nearly everyone in the league. Seeing Maltby win his fist, second, third, and fourth cups was the silver lining

  • Career high of 37 points, ya the Oilers really missed out. Without maltby those red wings sure would have had a huge hole to fill and never would have had any success without him. Hock tooie, I spit on this article

    • If you could set aside the frustration and anger that’s evident throughout your comment history and actually read what’s written before bringing on the venom, that would be great. That you’d focus in on 37 points when Maltby built his entire career as a defensive specialist on one of the best checking lines in the NHL for over a decade tells me all I need to know.

      • Have you been to a game lately? The building is mostly filled with narcissistic alcoholics’ who go just to be seen or millennials who judge you if you don’t wear this year’s Pylonesque Jersey.

        If anyone is traveling from abroad to watch the Oilers please don’t judge Edmonton by the vibe in Rogers. The City and surrounding areas have much more Canadian Culture and Dignity than that.

    • Like I said, McGillis himself was a pretty good return at the time even without factoring in that McGillis landed Niinimaa. It’s not that the trade was bad, it’s that they traded a useful, reliable defensive specialist whose value was was evident to the Red Wings through four Cup wins. Deals like this aren’t necessarily about one team blowing it — Maltby wasn’t the same established player here he would become.

      • ed from edmonton

        I will find it very interesting to see how your next 9 go. I find the Oil faithful to be hyper critical of just about everything in blue and orange, but especially sensitive about players who have left the Oil. Whenever one of these players get so much as a secondary assist there tends to be cries if disgust about how the Oil could get rid of such a good player. I’m sure Brownlee will be much more objective. Will Brownlee also do a top 10 of the Oil’s best aquisitions?

  • kelvjn

    You may want to leave out Todd Marchant from the list of middle six that had lessor career than Maltby.

    Merchant is just as capable a defensive forward, and the MGM line at various incarnations were just as good a checking line as any in the league. In fact they were more likely 2way 2 line by usage and relative production within the team. When trusted to a 1st line minutes and match ups even scored a respectable 60pts season.

    That Merchant has 0 cups vs Maltby 4 is more on the team they played for.

    Marchant hands down the bettter player.

      • kelvjn

        “You can make an argument Maltby had a better career than any of the players Sather kept ahead of him in his bottom-six mix, save for maybe MacTavish and Buchberger, but it wasn’t to be, at least not in Oiler silks.”…

        The above came across this way, especially in the context of Sather sent away wrong player statement…

        “While hindsight tells us Sather sent away the wrong player for McGillis…a surplus of bottom-six guys like Maltby. After Doug Weight and Jason Arnott on top, there was Craig MacTavish, Kelly Buchberger, Todd Marchant, Shjon Podein, Steven Rice, Tyler Wright, Scott Thornton, Dean McAmmond, Louie DeBrusk and Scott Pearson hanging around during Maltby’s time here.”

        Communication is a two way street, clarification is sometimes required?

  • Maggie the Monkey

    Wayne Gretzky would have to be #1 if I were making this list. Yes, he scored 1,669 points as an Oiler, but there are a few dozen Hall Of Famers who scored less than the 1,188 he totaled after leaving.