The Ten Worst Draft Picks in Oilers History

Only six more sleeps until draft day!

From 1979 to 2011, the Oilers drafted 333 players. Some of them turned into stars. Many more of them never played a game in the NHL–including several first-rounders!

Before next weekend’s draft, I want to share with you who were, in my opinion, the ten best and ten worst draft picks in Oilers history. Today, we begin with the ten worst.

It’s not hard to find ten bad Oiler picks. The Oilers have had some terrible drafts. For example, in 1990 they made 11 picks, and none of those players ever appeared in an NHL game!

In making this list, I focused on the first round. You should be able to get a decent player in round number one. Sadly, the Oilers failed to do this year after year.

How bad have the Oilers drafted in the first round? These two guys didn’t even make my ten worst list: Joel Hulbig (13th overall in 1992) and Jani Rita (13th overall in 1999). Why weren’t Hulbig and Rita included? They at least played a few NHL games (Hulbig – 55, Rita – 66).

Here are the ten worst draft picks in Oilers history (going from bad to worse to worst).

  • (tie) Jim Playfair (20th overall in 1982), Selmair Odelein (21st overall in 1984), Scott Metcalfe (20th overall in 1985), Kim Issel (21st overall in 1986), Peter Soberlak (21st overall in 1987), Matthieu Descoteaux (19th overall in 1996). These six beauties played a combined 67 NHL games.
  • Alexei Mikhov (17th overall in 2000). Mikhov played a total of 2 games for the Oilers–0 goals, 0 assists. 
  • Scott Allison (17th overall in 1990). Allison was the first player picked in the Oilers miserable 1990 draft class. Drafted 19th and 20th were Keith Tkachuk and Martin Brodeur.
  • Nick Stajduhar (16th overall in 1993). Who? Stajduhar produced the same output as Mikhov: 2 games, 0 goals, 0 assists. Fortunately, the Oilers also had the 5th overall pick and selected Jason Arnott.
  • Jesse Niinimaki (15th overall in 2002). The Finnish Fail never played an NHL game.
  • Jason Soules (15th overall in 1989). Never played an NHL game.
  • Michel Riesen (14th overall in 1997). The Swiss Miss appeared in 12 Oilers games. Riesen was traded by the Oilers to the Blues with Doug Weight for Marty Reasoner, Jochen Hecht, and Jan Horacek on July 1, 2001.
  • Michael Henrich (13th overall in 1998). Never played an NHL game.
  • Steve Kelly (6th overall in 1995). The 1995 draft was held in Edmonton. Too bad their pick was awful. Shane Doan was picked 7th.
  • Jason Bonsignore (4th overall in 1994). Bonsignore is considered one of the worst NHL draft busts. He appeared in only 79 games, scoring a measly 3 goals. Fortunately for the Oilers, they also had the 6th overall pick in 1994, using it to select Ryan Smyth. The Oilers traded their two worst picks, Kelly and Bonsignore, along with Bryan Marchment to the Lightning for Roman Hamrlik and Paul Comrie on Dec. 30, 1997.

Tags: 10 Best/worst Draft Jonrmcleod

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  • thedanglingdang

    @OilOnWhyte @jonrmcleod should be noted that some of those guys had series injuries–Bonsignore just sucked

    • jonrmcleod

      @thedanglingdang Some of those guys are a bit before my time. I’ll plead ignorance on a few.

  • mjseabz

    @OilOnWhyte So do we have any of those scouts or anyone on the oilers that was there during those times? If so they shouldn’t be.

    • jonrmcleod

      @mjseabz Here’s an Oilers Nation post on the amateur scouts. I’m not sure how long each of them has been around.

    • jonrmcleod

      @mjseabz Here’s an Oilers Nation post w/ a list of the amateur scouts. Not sure how long each of them has been around.

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  • pvm0760

    @EdmOilersview glad to see I share a birthday with one the 10 worst #Oilers draft picks #nickstajduhar

    • jonrmcleod

      @pvm0760 Nice to see that someone actually clicked on one of those links.

      • pvm0760

        @jonrmcleod haha if its hockey related I’ll read it

  • pvm0760

    @EdmOilersview a follow up: is that the only time Nick Stajduhar’s name has ever been hash tagged?


    1995 …. with the thousands upon thousands of Oilers fans chanting Doan! Doan! Doan! … the Oilers announce Steve Kelly’s name. I ran into Doan that evening at Barry T’s. Great guy, he took a moment to talk hockey with me. He wanted to be an Oiler. We ended the conversation with him buying me a Budweiser.

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