This is Andrei Kovalenko. He was a flawed NHL player but useful in a narrow view. Scored a huge goal for the Oilers in a G7 (against Dallas, tied it 3-3) and did some other things too. Kovalenko was listed as 5.10, 215 but there should have been an asterisk that added “plus a healthy appetite for things that don’t make you a better NHL player.”
The Oilers had some useful hands (Smyth, Weight, Marchant, others) and Kovalenko popped 32 goals in his best season in Edmonton.
Flawed? Yes in spades.
How did Ron Low do it? Well, he had some guys like Kovalenko (Czerkawski was another, Satan was on that team) who could score goals and some big men who could rattle and hum (DeBrusk, Buchberger, Hulbig played a little) and some guys who could check well (Grier, Moreau, Lindgren, Rem the Gem).
They also had Doug Weight, Ryan Smyth, Jason Arnott and the underrated Todd Marchant and Dean McAmmond who could do a few things.
That’s a lot of talent, and really very few of these men were in the heart of their careers during the time Kovalenko played for the team. So when we as Oilers fans talk about being patient and waiting for some wonderful future day when wins are plentiful, maybe we should ask ourselves what exactly makes us think the current group of kids is better than the bunch who played here a decade ago?
From this vantage point, it looks like this generation of Oilers are a little shy in all areas. The Oilers have some fine young forwards (Gagner, Cogliano) who may or may not develop but the “wide range of skills” offered by men like Weight and Smyth seems to be lacking (or at the very least late in appearing with regard to Cogs).
If this is a rebuild (and with the team looking at missing the playoffs for the fourth season in a row what else could it be?) then we need to hope that MPS, Riley Nash, Hartikainen and others are all the real deal. History tells us we’re dreaming.