Welcome to The Revisiting Series where we, well, revisit things. Today, we’re starting our look at the Oilers four first overall picks in franchise history.
The year was 2009 and the Edmonton Oilers had just completed an offseason that saw them heavily pursue Dany Heatley.
With it ultimately failing, Edmonton entered the 2009-10 season having fired head coach Craig MacTavish after three seasons without playoffs post-2006. The legendary Pat Quinn stepped behind the bench with his eventual successor, Tom Renney, as an associate coach.
One of the big storylines going into the year was the return of Mike Comrie, who signed a one-year, $1.25-million deal with the club on Sept. 10.
Edmonton had hopes of getting themselves in the playoffs that year after narrowly missing out in 2008 and 2009.
The Oilers had a relatively solid start to the season with a 7-6-1 record in October, but the Oilers stumbled in November posting a 3-7-3 record. In December, Edmonton seemed to rebound slightly with a 6-8-0 record.
All in all the Oilers finished the last game of 2009 and that decade with a 2-1 New Years’ Eve loss to the Calgary Flames.
And while this was all going on, Oilers fans had their close eye on the World Juniors where top prospects Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Anton Lander were ripping it up. But there was this draft-eligible forward by the name of Taylor Hall who caught the eye of many.
What came next for Edmonton was one of the worst stretches of hockey you could ever imagine. January saw Edmonton go completely winless and honestly, the rest of the season was nearly as bad. By the end of the year, Edmonton was in dead last in the NHL by 12 points having only won 12 of their last 50 games.
It was an impressive tank job completed by the Oilers as they secured the first overall pick for the first time in franchise history. Edmonton ended up selecting winger Taylor Hall from the Windsor Spitfires who put up 106 points that junior year after months and months of debate.
Hall reminded people of Mark Messier who had all the accomplishments and winning prowess as a Memorial Cup champion. Tyler Seguin, the other choice, played a more valuable position as a centre and arguably had better hockey sense.
Even at the podium addressing the start of the draft, league commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged the Taylor vs Tyler debate.
Hall opened up his career by scoring 42 points in 65 games in his rookie year and struggled to stay healthy throughout his time in Edmonton. In six seasons, he played more than 70 games only twice, but when he was in the lineup he was a tremendous contributor for the Oilers.
In 381 games, Hall scored 132 goals and 328 points. Hall has been, and likely always will be, a bit of a lightning rod when it comes to Oilers fans. Many loved him and what he brought to Edmonton, but he had serious doubters too.
Even in 2020 when rumors have run rampant on a potential return to Edmonton those discussions are still as fiery as ever.
His time in Edmonton came to an end with the infamous one-for-one trade in 2014.
On Twitter: @zjlaing