We’re through the first and second rounds of ON’s March Madness favourite all-time Oiler bracket challenge. Now the really difficult choices begin.
The Round of 32 didn’t see any major upsets, just like the Round of 64, so we’re off to the Sweet 16 with No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 seeds left. I had thought some darkhorse names like Fernando Pisani and Dave Semenko could pull off some upsets, but that wasn’t the case.
In the 1980s Region, we have…
- No. 1 Wayne Gretzky vs No. 5 Grant Fuhr. To the surprise of nobody, the G.O.A.T. has breezed through the first couple of rounds. He’ll face his first difficult test with Grant Fuhr, the franchise’s best goalie of all-time.
- No. 2 Mark Messier vs No. 3 Paul Coffey. Another match-up of Hall of Famers. Messier, the local product, captained the team to their only post-Gretzky Cup while Coffey is the best defenceman in franchise history.
In the 1990s Region, we have…
- No. 1 Doug Weight vs No. 5 Todd Marchant. Weight was the face of the Oilers through the 90s, leading the team back to relevance after their post-dynasty lull at the beginning of the decade. Marchant was also a key part of those teams. He’s beloved here especially for his key goal in overtime against Dallas in 1997.
- No. 2 Curtis Joseph vs No. 3 Bill Ranford. A match-up of two great Oilers goaltenders. Ranford was the netminder behind Edmonton’s Stanley Cup victory in 1990 while CuJo was the stud in net behind those gritty, lovable, underdog teams in the mid-90s.
In the 2000s Region, we have…
- No. Ryan Smyth vs No. 4 Shawn Horcoff. I have a hard time imagining anybody in this region taking down Smyth, an all-time fan favourite. To be honest, I thought this was going to be a Smyth vs Smith round, but Horcoff edged Gator out.
- No. 2 Ales Hemsky vs No. 3 Dwayne Roloson. Both Hemsky and Roloson beat out a couple of underdogs who I thought had upset potential, Fernando Pisani and Georges Laraque. Now we have Roloson, the goalie behind the ’06 run, and Hemsky, arguably the best player of this era and one of the most underrated in franchise history.
In the 2010s Region, we have…
- No. 1 Connor McDavid vs No. 4 Oscar Klefbom. McDavid has breezed through his first two rounds while Klefbom edged out a difficult match against Jordan Eberle in the Round of 32. McDavid is obviously the favourite to come out of this region.
- No. 2 Leon Draisaitl vs No. 3 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Finally, we have Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins, two key members of the current team. Both players have developed into legitimate stars in their time here, so deciding between the two won’t be easy.
Who do you have winning each match up and moving on to the Elite Eight? Let us know in the comments! Also, remember to keep an eye out on Twitter and Instagram to vote!
My guesses? Gretzky, Messier, Marchant, Joseph, Smyth, Roloson, McDavid, and Draisaitl.