Here’s a shocker — The Edmonton Oilers, like every professional sports franchise on the planet, have really screwed up some draft picks.
The 1990’s and early 2000’s really was the heyday of incompetent drafting in Edmonton with several first-round selections playing just a handful of games for the Oilers, while some didn’t even dress for a single NHL contest. Looking back with the full benefit of 20/20 hindsight, the list of Hall of Fame and All-Star names the club passed up on over the years is a long and painful one.
And the collection of names they chose ahead of some of those perennial superstars is even worse.
Jason Bonsignore (1994)
Bonsignore was the No. 4 pick in the 1994 draft and the highest selection the Oilers ever made until Taylor Hall was chosen first overall in 2010. Blessed with exceptional talent but cursed with an inability to hone it, the Rochester, New York native played only 21 games with Edmonton and his entire NHL career lasted less than 80 contests over four seasons with the Oilers and Lightning. He’s one of the biggest draft-day busts in NHL history.
Tyler Wright (1991)
The No. 12 overall selection in 1991 had a respectable 600-plus game NHL career, but only 41 of those contests and three of his 79 career goals came while wearing an Oilers uniform. Edmonton passed on several future All-Stars and Hall of Famers to select Wright, including Alexei Kovalev, Marcus Naslund and Glen Murray, who were all chosen in the first round at Nos 15, 16 and 18 respectively.
Michael Henrich (1998)
You can’t find this dude on Hockey Reference or NHL.com because, well, he never played a single NHL game after being selected 13th overall in 1998. Henrich carved out a solid career for himself in Europe, but that was not what the Oilers had in mind when they burned a first-round pick on the former OHL phenom. though it wasn’t the strongest draft class, to say the least, some notable names that were selected after Henrich include Simon Gagne, Scott Gomez, Jonathan Cheechoo, Brad Richards and Brian Gionta.
Jesse Niinimaki (2002)
Also, a Top 15 pick who never suited up for a single NHL game, the Oilers selection of Niinimaki in 2002 was another wasted one. This draft class was absolute trash, but still, many selected after him carved out solid NHL careers and didn’t boast a 24-game stint with the AHL’s Edmonton Road Runners as the highlight of their North American professional hockey careers.
Steve Kelly (1995)
Selected at No. 6 overall, one pick ahead of now-former Coyotes captain and All-Star Shane Doan, Kelly managed to dress in 23 games for the Oilers before being shipped out of town during the 1997-98 season. Aside from Doan, Jarome Iginla, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Jay McKee and Petr Sykora were all still on the board when the club decided to select Kelly.
Marc-Antoine Pouliot (2003)
Widely regarded as the most stacked and fruitful draft of all time, the Oilers snagged Marc-Antoine at No. 22 following a 73-point rookie campaign in the QMJHL. The skilled centre was only able to muster 53 points in 176 career games in Edmonton, and bounced around a few different organizations before heading to Europe to start the 2012-13 season. The long list of star-studded selections after Pouliot include Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Corey Perry, Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber and David Backes, just to name a few.
Does this list suck, or is it right on par with yours? Let me know how bad I am, and also feel free to include your own draft-day busts to this depressing group of names.
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