The Edmonton Oilers used to be able to find useful defensemen at midnight in a snowstorm. Seriously. MA Bergeron might not get a Christmas card from Craig MacTavish every year but the fact remains the Oilers found him after he was passed over at the draft and he’s had a career. Steve Staios was discarded by the Thrashers, Jason Smith offed by Toronto and on it went. Jan freaking Hejda.
The Edmonton Oilers have four NHL defensemen signed for next season (Whitney, Gilbert, Smid and Potter) and a UFA in Andy Sutton. Their three RFA’s of note are Jeff Petry, Theo Peckham and Cam Barker plus there are bit players like Alex Plante and Taylor Chorney. AHL hires who might end up having careers include Colten Teubert and of course the draft bullets spent on blueliners in the past few seasons are on the way.
When the Oilers won the Stanley in 1984, they did it with a very interesting blue. Paul Coffey and Kevin Lowe were former first round picks, Randy Gregg was signed as a free agent after playing in Japan (kind of misleading, he was pursued by NHL teams), Charlie Huddy (signed as a minor league free agent after passing through the entry draft), Lee Fogolin (acquired because Buffalo made an idiotic expansion draft decision), Don Jackson (trade pickup from the North Stars), Larry Melnyk (trade acquisition from Boston) and Rick Chartraw (acquired from the Rangers for a draft pick that would turn into someone named Heinz Ehlers).
This is Heinz Ehlers. I don’t really have a reason to include him but if you google him this comes up. He was the first Danish player ever drafted by an NHL team and played pro hockey for 20 years.
The Oilers after the first expansion draft went about building a quality defense and then kept them until they started to fade or demand their value:
- Paul Coffey (80 to 87)
- Kevin Lowe (79 to 92)
- Charlie Huddy (80 to 91)
- Randy Gregg (82 to 90)
- Lee Fogolin (79 to 86)
- Don Jackson (81 to 86)
That’s a pretty consistent blueline, and a fine one. As I write this, I’m struggling with what would be the choice as “worst day to be an Oiler fan” for this group. When Coffey was traded I was mad as hell, but when Fogolin left it was like we lost part of the family. I don’t know if that explains it, but both were awful days.
The Oilers have Smid-Gilbert, an injured Whitney, I think a real comer in Petry and an assortment of prospects, suspects, also-rans, incoming, outgoing, ruffians, undersized skill guys, really young guys. I’d count only two (Smid-Gilbert) with one possible addition for the next Boys on the Bus group at the NHL level, and am very hopeful about Klefbom, Marincin, Gernat and Musil (plus some others). History tells us not all of those kids will develop, but the Oilers could use a little luck.
What say you? What are your choices for the eight?