The Oilers blueline these days consists of interesting young players, two solid veterans, a quality 2-way man with legit injury issues and ten miles of kids.
How many of the current Oilers could we answer ‘yes’ to when applying their name to the following question:
- Could the Oilers win a Stanley with (player name) as their (position on the roster)?
It isn’t many, not so far. Whitney, Smid, Schultz the elder all contribute when healthy and Sutton was effective in a 5-6 role and should be again this season. Jeff Petry was a revelation, Justin Schultz should be quality and of course there’s the Klef-hangers and their stories bubbling under.
The 80-81 Oilers
- LD: Kevin Lowe, Paul Coffey, Pat Price, Doug Hicks
- RD: Risto Siltanen, Lee Fogolin
I can remember each of those players very well: Lowe the dogged defender, Coffey the sublime skater, Hicks tough as nails, Siltanen with the slap shot that could end up anywhere (think super ball with a puck–man he shot it hard) and heart and soul Fogolin–you still can’t find an old timey Oiler fan who will say 5 bad words about him. Lee Fogolin was a man on the blueline. Pat Price always had his shoulder slumped, like he was crumbling under the weight of the Pattison contract.
PP GF (on ice)
- Siltanen 60
- Price 22
- Coffey 21
- Hicks 16
- Lowe 15
- Fogolin 2
Siltanen’s slap shot used to make a sound as they hit the boards behind the net. Seriously. A very unique sound, that’s how hard he shot. Price was traded at the deadline, Coffey was brand new, and then Hicks begins the stay at homes.
PK GA (on ice)
- Fogolin 43
- Siltanen 29
- Hicks 27
- Lowe 24
- Price 24
- Coffey 6
As we might have guessed, Fogolin was the top defender on the PK. Siltanen played heavy minutes, he was very mobile and could skate. He didn’t have size but he could play. Hicks, Lowe and Price would all have been obvious PK choices–big, strong, and both Hicks and Price were veterans by this time.
It’s very difficult to match these fellows to current Oilers. Siltanen was an undersized Finn with some crazy skills–a very unique player–reflected by the impressive return Sather got for him. He probably led this team in TOI, but I honestly can’t compare him to a current Oiler. He was not a ‘complete’ defender, and his defense was the issue, but Siltanen was well thought of in 80-81 as an NHL defenseman.
Fogolin was a veteran stay at home, Nick Schultz would be the comparable there.
Doug Hicks was 25 or so by this time, but he sort of stalled as a player; still delivered the toughness but he was not as effective defensively as Fogolin or even Lowe by this time. He was moving down the depth chart. No current Oiler has the same resume, but all of the tough guys–Peckham as an example–would be similar in style (Hicks had some pretty good offensive seasons, though).
Lowe was Lowe pretty early, he was probably below average as a rookie defenseman but after that was a rock. By this time I think you could say he was taking playing time away from Hicks and Price. Kevin Lowe’s post playing career may cloud the issue for some, but he was an excellent NHL player over a long period of time. Smid would be the current comparable from my pov.
Price was never close to what was expected of him, and he was dealt at the deadline. There always seemed to be something about him–both on the Island and here–that kept him outside. Can’t put my finger on it, but he was never going to be a part of the Oilers when they were great and I think most fans would have agreed even before the trade.
Coffey? Well, he wasn’t really of this earth even as a rookie. He made dreadful, galling, spectacular errors but he also recovered in a heartbeat and could skate the puck out of a storm like it was a Sunday drive. Paul Coffey had his detractors–Scotty Bowman was one–but holy hell was he an effective hockey player in his prime. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen another Paul Coffey, let alone finding one on this roster.