16 Days Until The Season Begins

Photo credit:Ian Scott
Cam Lewis
7 months ago
Throughout the summer and into the fall, we’ll be counting down the days until the Edmonton Oilers begin their 2023-24 season with a daily trip down memory lane. Today at No. 16 we have Kelly Buchberger, a late-round draft pick who went on to play 1,182 games in the NHL.
The Oilers selected Buchberger in the ninth round of the 1985 draft following a season in which he scored 29 points and racked up 114 penalty minutes over 51 games for the Moose Jaw Warriors. He had a similar post-draft season in the WHL in 1985-86 but made a name for himself as a prospect after scoring 11 goals and 15 points for the Warriors in the playoffs.
After Moose Jaw got knocked out, the Oilers called up Buchberger to join the team during their own playoff run. Buchberger sat in the press box as the Oilers took down the Winnipeg Jets and Detroit Red Wings and then he got thrown into the deep end.
Buchberger drew into the lineup for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Philadelphia Flyers and the 20-year-old was welcomed to the NHL by veteran Dave Brown. He played in the first three games of the series and got himself a Stanley Cup ring after the Oilers took down the Flyers in seven.

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Buchberger came to training camp in the fall looking to earn a tough guy spot on Edmonton’s fourth line. He made the team’s opening roster but was sent to the AHL after four games in October. Buchberger scored 21 goals and 44 points over 49 games for the Nova Scotia Oilers and got called up to the big league club a few more times but didn’t suit up during Edmonton’s Stanley Cup run in the spring of 1988.

Edmonton Oilers Newspaper Clipping From September 20, 1987.

The 1988-89 season saw Buchberger break through as a full-time NHLer. He led the Oilers with 234 penalty minutes during the regular season but an injury suffered in March kept him off the ice while the team was in the playoffs in the spring.
Buchberger again navigated through injuries in 1989-90 and appeared in only 55 regular season games but he was healthy come playoff time. The Oilers pulled off an upset over Wayne Gretzky’s L.A. Kings in the second round of the playoffs and later won their fifth Stanley Cup in team history, the first Buchberger was involved in since his debut three years earlier.
The Oilers went on two more deep playoff runs in 1991 and 1992 before missing out for the first time in team history in 1993. By then, most of the players from the Stanley Cup years in the 80s had moved on and Buchberger was one of the remaining veterans from the previous era.
Buchberger was named captain of the Oilers in 1995-96 and he held that role through the 1998-99 season. He was claimed by the Atlanta Thrashers in their expansion draft and was named the first captain in team history. After stints with the L.A. Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, and Pittsburgh Penguins, Buchberger retired during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
Buchberger finished his NHL career with 105 goals and 309 points over 1,182 games played along with 2,297 penalty minutes. He ranks seventh in Oilers history with 795 games played and first in penalty minutes with 1747, a record that will surely never be broken.


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