A couple of days ago I shared with you The Ten Worst Draft Picks in Oilers History. It can’t be denied that Edmonton has made some awful selections, but thankfully there have been some amazing picks as well.
The key to the Oilers success in the 80’s (other than acquiring Wayne Gretzky in 1978) was their first two NHL drafts. In 1979 and 1980, Edmonton selected four future hall of famers–Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, and Jari Kurri–plus, Kevin Lowe and Andy Moog. Not bad.
As I was making this list of the ten best picks, I considered both the quality of the player and the position in which he was selected. So that means, for example, that even though picking Paul Coffey at 6th overall in 1980 was a great pick, it doesn’t make my list because superstars are often picked that early in the draft.
Here are the ten best draft picks in Oilers history (going from good to better to best).
- Fernando Pisani (195th overall in 1996). I could have went with Jason Chimera (121st in 1997) here. But Pisani’s contributions to the Oilers 2006 playoff run gave him the nod.
- Miroslav Satan (111th in 1993). Too bad Satan didn’t stay very long in Edmonton. (That sounds a bit strange.) He was traded to the Sabres for Barrie Moore and Craig Millar on March 19, 1997. After leaving Edmonton, Satan went on to score 328 NHL goals.
- Kelly Buchberger (188th in 1985). The future Oilers captain made his NHL debut in the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals. He finished his career with 2297 penalty minutes.
- Steve Smith (111th in 1981). Yes, he did score that critical own goal against the Flames in 1986 playoffs. But he was a very good defenceman for many years in the NHL.
- Shawn Horcoff (99th in 1998). Horcoff was another future Oilers captain selected late in the draft. He has many critics (mostly because of his contract), but a team usually doesn’t get this much from a fourth rounder.
- Esa Tikkanen (82nd in 1983). Tikkanen was one of the NHL’s all-time best pests. Wayne Gretzky once said, “[Esa] brings something special. I don’t know what it is, but if you ask him, you couldn’t understand his answer.” My most vivid memory of Tikkanen is his shadowing of Gretzky in the Oilers playoff series versus the Kings in 1990.
- Andy Moog (132nd in 1980). Moog often gets overshadowed by Grant Fuhr (selected 8th overall in 1981), but it could be argued (at least by their career stats) that Moog was Fuhr’s equal. Moog was traded to the Bruins for Bill Ranford and Geoff Courtnall on March 8, 1998. Moog and Ranford would later face each other in the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals.
- Jari Kurri (69th in 1980). I probably don’t need to explain my last three choices. Kurri is eighteenth in career goals (601) and a five-time Stanley Cup winner.
- Glenn Anderson (69th in 1979). Anderson scored 498 career goals and is a six-time Stanley Cup winner. (But apparently wasn’t an all-star Dad.)
- Mark Messier (48th in 1979). “The Moose” is seventh in career goals, third in career assists, second in career points, a six-time Stanley Cup winner, and a Lay’s chips spokesman. (“Betcha can’t each just one!”)