In the history of the Edmonton Oilers, we have seen some very strong minor league teams. I have decided to look at one team per decade since we have some time in mid-summer. Tomorrow I will look at the 2001-02 Hamilton Bulldogs and the 2013-14 Oklahoma City Barons.
1981-82 WICHITA WIND (BEST OF THE 80S)
- D Charlie Huddy. 1,017 regular-season games, 183 playoff games and he hung around for all five Stanleys. You would have loved him: Rugged, smart, effective.
- G Andy Moog. Played in 713 regular-season games, 132 more in the playoffs, and won three Stanley’s with Edmonton. A seventh-round pick in 1980, he was a fabulous goalie.
- F Walt Poddubny. He played 468 NHL games, but only four for the Oilers. Effective, and had a few terrific offensive seasons.
- C Marc Habscheid. He played in 345 NHL games although only three for this Wind club (all in the playoffs). I always liked him, but the team was loaded at the position.
- D Don Jackson. He made it into 311 NHL games, won two Stanley’s and was a fearsome fellow. I always liked to see him on the ice, between Jackson and Semenko everything had a way of getting calm in a hurry.
- D John Blum. He played 250 NHL games, only nine as an Oiler. He was a tough customer, I remember him best as a Boston Bruin.
- C Tom Roulston. He played in 195 NHL games, and is one of the few Oilers of that era to play a bunch of playoff games (21) for the Oilers without winning a Stanley.
1992-93 CAPE BRETON OILERS (BEST OF THE 90S)
- R Kirk Maltby. He payed in 1,072 NHL games and another 169 in the playoffs—while taking part in all four of the Detroit Red Wings modern Stanley’s. I assume you know his style, he was a very famous player.
- C Scott Thornton. He played in 941 NHL games and 79 in the playoffs. A painful trade saw him arrive in Edmonton (Fuhr, Anderson to the Leafs) and he was a role player until being dealt to the Montreal Canadiens.
- C Shaun Van Allen. He played 794 NHL games and another 61 in the playoffs—mostly for Ottawa. He was perceived as being a draft failure for a long time, but broke through seven years after he was chosen.
- L Shjon Podein. He played in 699 NHL games and another 127 in the playoffs. Rugged checker was part of two famous teams, the Flyers of the mid-90s and the Avalanche a little later. Won Stanley in 2001.
- R Steven Rice. He played 329 NHL games and two in the playoffs for the New York Rangers. This is a painful name in Oilers history—he was partial payment for Mark Messier.
- D Francois Leroux. He played in 249 NHL games and 33 in the playoffs. I remember chatting with Rod Phillips and John Short about him as a young player. The feeling was that with his size (6.06, 247) he could be effective if he could catch you. They were right.
- C Peter White. He played in 220 NHL games and 19 in the playoffs. White was a bit of an NHL tweener, but an outstanding AHL player.
- R Roman Oksiuta. He played in 153 NHL games and 10 in the playoffs. If you want to know what kind of player he was, put skates on your fridge.
- L Vladimir Vujtek. He played in 110 NHL games and was an effective junior and minor league player. He was one of the early draft picks to come over and play, Montreal traded him to Edmonton in the ill-fated Vincent Damphousse deal.
Question: Of these two teams (if you are old enough) which one would you consider the better club? I have heard a few stories about that Wichita team, and the 80-81 team too. I think it must have been a funhouse on and off the ice. If you remember the style of hockey played in those days, and check out the PIMs, it is possible to envision Slap Shot pretty much every game they played. How on earth a skill guy could have climbed out of those leagues is beyond me.