Great Oiler Left Wingers

This is Esa Tikkanen. He would have to rank right up there on a list of all-time great left wingers who played the position for the Edmonton Oilers. Also on the list would be Mark Messier (played LW before moving to C, made the All-Star team) and Ryan Smyth.

  1. What 2 LW’s in Oilers history would you add to Messier, Smyth and Tikkanen to make 5 in total? In what order would you rate them (as Oilers)? Does anyone on the current roster have the potential to make your top 5 down the line?

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35 Responses to "Great Oiler Left Wingers"

  1. Bruce says:

    1. Mark Messier
    2. Glenn Anderson
    3. Esa Tikkanen
    4. Craig Simpson
    5. Ryan Smyth

    That’s chronological order but pretty close to how I would rank them. LW is a confusing position, it’s hard to tell who lines up there often times. (e.g. which of the current Kid Line is the LW?)

    Messier is #1 with a bullet with his three end-of-season All-Star selections (two first teams, one second) before making the move to centre. Anderson also played a lot of LW early in his career although as time went on he wound up on the right side. Eventually all three of Messier, Anderson and Simpson played on the same line and all played a huge role in two Stanley Cups together.

    Tikkanen’s a slam dunk for his fine two-way play and clutch performance. Smyth is by far the best of the post-dynasty LWs, whose great attitude and work ethic made him one of the most popular and respected players in the league.

    Honorable mention: Jaroslav Pouzar, Mike Krushelnyski, Willy Lindstrom, Adam Graves, Ethan Moreau.

    Dishonorable discharge: Shame Corson.

    Future watch: Robert Nilsson, Dustin Penner.

  2. Jonathan says:

    1. Mark Messier
    2. Ryan Smyth
    3. Esa Tikkanen
    4. Craig Simpson
    5. Brett Callighen

    Only because I’ve always thought of Glenn Anderson as a RW.

    Also, Petr Klima deserves at least a mention in this vein, as does Dave Semenko ;)

  3. Asiaoil says:

    Only played one year but Nilsson the Elder deserves consideration on talent alone – Simpson and Tik are the other two who stand out from the pack.

  4. dreamer says:

    Based only on their impact as Oilers:
    1. Smyth
    2. Tikkanen
    3. Simpson
    4. Damphousse (wish we’d had him for longer than a year)
    5. Krushelnyski (guy had a 40G season, better than anyone else on this list).

    Decent Counting numbers: Corson, Ciger, Callighen

    Fondly remembered: Torres, Moreau, Lindstrom, Gelinas, Semenko

    Not the strongest list, but the top 5 were all beauties.

    * Mess and Anderson played most of their Oiler careers at C and RW, respectively. Graves played C on the kid line IIRC. So I left them off my list to make it more challenging.

    LW has never really been the strongest position for the Oilers (RW on the other hand, wow). It’s weird to have so much quality on that side now with Penner, Cole, and Nilsson.

  5. dreamer says:

    Didn’t Klima mostly play RW for the Oil?
    What hands that guy had.

  6. Coach pb9617 says:

    Clearly the correct answer is

    1. Rob Schremp
    2. Esa Tikkanen
    3. Mike Krushelnyski
    4. Mark Messier
    5. Craig Simpson
    6. Ryan Smyth

    Messier is the clear number two if he stays at LW, but he moved and gets an incomplete.

  7. Bruce says:

    I’ve always thought of Glenn Anderson as a RW.

    Hockey-reference.com would agree with you. Except, that same source lists Willy Lindstrom and Mark Napier as RWs, and Kent Nilsson as a C … and all three won a Cup playing on a line with Messier and Anderson. Those guys did the criss-cross thing so much it was damn confusing to know who played where.

  8. therealdeal says:

    Tikkanen signed a miniature pennant for me after a game when I was like 10 years old. It was a really messed up looking signature. The next day I found out he broke his wrist during that game which is why he signed his name with his wrong hand. Classy guy.

    1. Mark Messier
    2. Glenn Anderson
    3. Ryan Smyth
    4. Esa Tikkanen
    5. Craig Simpson

    Martin Gelinas and Adam Graves are both close to making the list, even if their best years weren’t all with the Oilers.

  9. Lowetide says:

    I’m going to include Messier but exclude Anderson.

    1. Messier
    2. Smyth
    3. Tikkanen
    4. Simpson
    5. Krushelnyski

    Penner and Nilsson are players of interest moving forward and of course Cogliano or Gagner if they end up playing that position.

  10. BBKing77 says:

    While others have the right names, only therealdeal got the order right so far. Clearly the ranking is:

    1. Mark Messier
    2. Glenn Anderson
    3. Ryan Smyth
    4. Esa Tikkanen
    5. Craig Simpson

  11. transplantedjetfan says:

    “he broke his wrist during that game which is why he signed his name with his wrong hand”

    and your only giving him #4? tough crowd.

  12. Alice says:

    There was a house on fire named Curt Brackenbury, shall we call him an Impact player?

  13. Bruce says:

    Brack was more of a guided missile than anything. The rest of the time he was an unguided missile.

    Technically he played RW. He had 72 GP as an Oiler, on the highest scoring team in the highest scoring era in NHL history, and scored 2 goals while racking up 165 PiM. But yes, he did make an impact.

  14. Peeeete. says:

    1-3: Tikkanen
    4: Smyth
    5: Simpson

    -Messier and Anderson did much, much more in other positions, so are removed.
    -I could have scored 10 playing when Krushelnyski scored 40, despite the fact I was in the early grades of elementary school (look at the centre/team that year).
    -Etc.

    Of the current guys, Penner maybe could be memorable, really (I have this strange faith), as he seems smart, and is huge with great hands. Otherwise, they’re all so young and tiny, and change position every few shifts. How can I know who plays what anymore? Wasn’t Gagner playing rover at the end of last season? It’s troubling.

  15. PDO says:

    As a guy who has railed on Nilsson…

    I think he’s on this list at the end of the season. To be fair, I don’t include Messier or Anderson on my list… they spent time their, but most of us will remember what they did at C and RW respectively when we remember them. I mean, Horcoff is no Messier by any stretch of the imagination… but no one here would dream of including him on a LW list. Messier was a C, Anderson was a RW, and that’s just the way it is :-).

    1. Smyth
    2. Tikk
    3. Simpson
    4. Torres (I’ll take a TON of shit for this… but ’06 did it.)
    5. Moreau

    I’m, obviously, biased at 20 years old… but that’d be my rankings. I think Moreau and Nilsson tag-team Torres off of the list this year.

  16. breakerdog says:

    “-I could have scored 10 playing when Krushelnyski scored 40, despite the fact I was in the early grades of elementary school (look at the centre/team that year).”

    Umm, no. Krush was 11th in goals in the league that year. Pretty amazing accomplishment considering all the offensive fire power around the league at the time.

  17. Lowetide says:

    Plus Krushelnyski did some nice things in the following seasons playing different roles.

    PDO: I think Torres is a legit player for consideration. They had success with him and his sabr numbers were always good.

    I miss the guy already.

  18. Lord Bob says:

    1. Messier
    2. Anderson
    3. Tikkanen
    4. Krushelnyski
    5. Smyth

    Anderson was always an RW to me, too, but I couldn’t make myself put Craig Simpson on a list like this just because of the way he turned out and the whole “pass pass pass pass pass pass pass pass point shot” era on our powerplay. :P

    Now, if I were actually assembling a team, I’d rather have Smyth than Krushelnyski because he offers skills that Messier and Anderson don’t. Just ranking them in terms of skills, Krush makes it because he could do what he did better than Smyth. But Smyth had a greater variety of skills. Am I making any sense or do I sound like Bob Cole talking about the ’60s Maple Leafs here?

  19. goldenchild says:

    The Esa Tikkanen series agains the Flames in 91 or 92 not positive where he scored the OT winner in game 7 was impressive a series player not wearing 99 or 11 has ever had in an Oiler Jersey. Sometime we forget how good a player he was. The current team could badly use a player like him.

    Not to go off topic or anything but if the Oilers don’t sign anyone or trade for a vet forward then the wtf was the Torres trade about? As a salary dump it made sense as a hockey deal not so much.

  20. Slipper says:

    Just because Petr Klima’s name has been raised in this discussion…

    I was slinging drinks the other day and it dawned on me that some of the girls running tables for me were born just before and, for a couple, after the final Oilers’ Cup win.

    The 1990 vintage.

    Crazy shit.

    Either way, because we are dirty (drrty?) bartenders with too much free time, we were brainstorming a phrase to describe bagging one of these “ladies” when I coined what I believe is the winner:

    “Pulling off a Petr Klima in triple overtime”

    Anyways, my list:

    Smyth
    Tik
    Simpson

    Messier may have played the wing, but he’s a center in my books.

  21. Coach pb9617 says:

    -I could have scored 10 playing when Krushelnyski scored 40, despite the fact I was in the early grades of elementary school (look at the centre/team that year).

    As a kid then, it’s pretty obvious that you didn’t realize all of the other stuff that Krushelnyski did for that team. He was one of the few two way guys on that team at that point and busted his butt in his own end. He checked when he was asked to check and he won faceoffs. He took big faceoffs regularly. His ability to play on both ends of the ice made his linemates better. Sure, he probably benefited greatly from all of the offensive talent around him – but he stuck out like a sore thumb on that squad as a player that could take on multiple roles.

  22. Coach pb9617 says:

    The Esa Tikkanen series agains the Flames in 91 or 92 not positive where he scored the OT winner in game 7 was impressive a series player not wearing 99 or 11 has ever had in an Oiler Jersey. Sometime we forget how good a player he was. The current team could badly use a player like him.

    Every team in the league could use a player like Esa Tikkanen right now.

  23. rickibear says:

    GoldenChild: The Torres trade was haveing the correct players for the correct LW slots. Cole in; Torres out. Based on all the converstions with MacT, Pender, Klowe, there is no dought this is the LW from the beginning of the trades.

    Cole
    Nilsson
    Penner
    Moreau

    A top three of 3 potential 60PT guys and two of them 30 goal scorers. Three of the 4 LW could make us one of the most physical LW group in the league.

    As for the Article: He is no super star but I became an Oilers fan when I started school in Edmonton in 1993. Went to about 30 Home games a year; half lower bowl corporate freeby,s and half Superstore and Molson deals. During the period of 1994-98 I used to enjoy watching people bail on the Marchment slide across and the rugged take no prisoner play of Louise Debrusk.

    My top five is:

    1. Messier
    2. Tikkanen
    3. Smyth
    4. Simpson
    5. Krushelnyski

    It is what it is.

  24. goldenchild says:

    Rikibear thats fine if they like the other 4 gus better but they could of moved Torres for another position. Behind Horc we don’t exactly have the most tested group. A vet C that could C Pisani and Cole/Penner would certainly make this team better in the short term and they could prob still use a dependable D man that could play ahead of Smid. Like I said I was fine with it as a salary dump but if they don’t use that money this year then that move counters the others which were to help this get in the playoffs this year.

  25. Peeeete. says:

    I wasn’t entirely serious about the Krushelnyski comment, although that season was quite the statistical blip, no?

    It’s interesting to know he was a solid two-way player, though. I was in elementary school in the 80s, so didn’t pay much attention to such things. For the most part, a player’s quality was judged by how many goals he scored, or how tough he was, and that was the extent of the analysis…

    So who knew how to backcheck, beyond Krushelnyski, MacTavish, Tikkanen, and Kurri? I’m curious…

  26. Coach pb9617 says:

    Rikibear thats fine if they like the other 4 gus better but they could of moved Torres for another position. Behind Horc we don’t exactly have the most tested group. A vet C that could C Pisani and Cole/Penner would certainly make this team better in the short term and they could prob still use a dependable D man that could play ahead of Smid. Like I said I was fine with it as a salary dump but if they don’t use that money this year then that move counters the others which were to help this get in the playoffs this year.

    Breathe deep and say it with me:

    It’s only July.
    It’s only July
    It’s only July.

  27. Knamely Lacked says:

    “Every team in the league could use a player like Esa Tikkanen right now.”

    …and a Mike Krushelnyski.

    What a beauty he was. Just did so many things, so very well. My favourite player growing up. Yup, I got a lot of weird looks during that time, especially considering the players I had to choose from, but he was my guy.

    As for LW

    1. Mark Messier
    2. Esa Tikkanen
    3. Ryan Smyth
    4. Mike Krushelnyski
    5. Craig Simpson

    I know Anderson played quite a few games on the left side, but I recall him more as a right winger.

    And, damn I loved watching and listening to Tikkanen. What a great language Tikkanish was.

  28. Bruce says:

    So who knew how to backcheck, beyond Krushelnyski, MacTavish, Tikkanen, and Kurri? I’m curious…

    Kevin McClelland, Dave Hunter, Jaroslav Pouzar, Willy Lindstrom,
    Pat Hughes …

    re: Krushelnyski, he was a beauty, very underrated player in this town. He had excellent size which some poeple wanted him to use to bash people through the boards all the time, but that wasn’t his game, he just used his size and strength to win possession battles and control the puck. Like many big guys he was faster than he looked. (Imperfect but decent comparison: Dustin Penner)

    Krush also had the versatility to play centre or wing. He had that one big year (+56!) playing LW with Gretzky and Kurri, but when Sather gave Tikkanen his first career games playing with Wayne and Jari in the SCF (!), rather than sulking Krushelnyski played centre on a very effective 3rd line with Lindstrom and McClelland, and the trio contributed a huge goal that won Game 2 in the Spectrum and brought the series back to Edmonton all tied up.

    Kruyshelnyski was a very useful “plug and play” type throughout his four years in Edmonton. By ’88 he was back on the wing, on an extremely effective “fourth” line with McClelland and centred by Keith Acton. He was always a useful 2nd PP unit option, and while he didn’t spend much time on the PK in Edmonton, he did so on other clubs. He was pretty useful in the faceoff circle as well.

  29. dreamer says:

    Hmm, suprised that there is no love for Damphousse here – while he only played one season, he had a pretty good run with the Oil (only Krush had a better single season at LW).

  30. Master Lok says:

    1. Messier
    2. Tikkanen
    3. Smyth
    4. Simpson
    5. 6-way tie…

    Tikk over Smyth: I distinctly recall Tikk winning and dominating a playoff series. I’m not sure I can remember Smyth doing the same.

  31. Coach pb9617 says:

    Like many big guys he was faster than he looked. (Imperfect but decent comparison: Dustin Penner)

    If MacT gets his way with Penner, this is a really great comp.

  32. IceDragoon says:

    My head says:

    1. Mark Messier
    2. Glenn Anderson
    3. Esa Tikkanen
    4. Ryan Smyth
    5. Craig Simpson

    My heart says:

    1. Esa Tikkanen
    2. Mark Messier
    3. Glenn Anderson
    4. Ryan Smyth
    5. Mike Krushelnyski

    Bruce: Those guys did the criss-cross thing so much it was damn confusing to know who played where.

    No doubt. hmmm… Where have we seen this ‘confusing criss-cross thing’ recently?

  33. Bruce says:

    ID: Hmmmm … Hockey-reference.com lists both Kenta and Kentasson as centres. Near as I can tell, that was the one (forward) position neither of them actually play/ed as Oilers. But they both did the criss-cross thing with other guys who you couldn’t tell what position they played either. And if I’m confused just watching, pity the opposing defence that’s trying to stop these guys.

  34. dstaples says:

    I’m rating them first on peak performance, their value over a stretch of games that can be as short as one playoff season . . . .

    1. Mark Messier (can’t argue with all-star seasons).
    2. Esa Tikkanen (90 playoffs co-MVP, held his own with Gretz and Kurri).
    3. Craig Simpson (90 playoff scoring ace).
    4. Ryan Smyth (06 playoff hero)
    5. Kent Nilsson (87 playoff ace).

    Based on career value, more of a four-to-five year evaluation, thus eliminating Messier and K. Nilsson, I would say:

    1. Tikkanen. (with Kurri, best penalty kill tandem I’ve ever seen and could also score).
    2. Smyth (did it for longer than Simpson did).
    3. Simpson.
    4. Callighen (best from WHA era)
    5. Krushelnyski (I just don’t see anyone from the 90s, other than Smyth, who ranks).

    Potentials: The Flying Fridge could do get by Krusher, but whoever ends up on the left wing from Nilsson/Cogliano/Gagner could end up very high on list.

  35. Bruce says:

    Based on career value, more of a four-to-five year evaluation, thus eliminating Messier and K. Nilsson…

    David: Agreed re: Nilsson, whom I didn’t consider at all due to his limited, tho’ effective time as an Oiler. He was worthy an honorable mention, tho’, as was Damphousse.

    Messier OTOH was a LW for almost five years before making the switch to centre late in the 1983-84 season. It took major balls for Sather to move the freakin’ First All-Star Left Wing to another position, but it paid off in spades as the Oilers won the Cup and Messier the Conn Smythe later that spring. Slats never got much credit for that one, but once 99 and 11 patrolled the middle on separate lines there simply was no way to stop the Oilers.

    Largely because of the late-season switch in position, Messier was “only” the Second Team All-Star LW in ’83-84 after two years on the First Team and two years before that finding his legs, his hands, and his head (in that order).

    Another 20 (!!) years as a centre tend to obscure those years on the port side, but there was nonetheless was plenty of time to evaluate him as a LW, and he was absolute dynamite.

    Trivia note: The Moose remains the only player in NHL history to make the First All-Star Team at two different postions (let alone twice at each position).

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