( ‘What’s In a Number?’ is a series on Oil On Whyte, taking a jersey number and looking back on a player who once donned it for the Oil. It won’t always be the obvious choice or the most notable player, nor will the series be in numerical order.)
Name : Petr Nedvěd
DOB: December 9th, 1971
Birthplace: Liberec, Czechoslovakia
Ht: 6′ 3″ Wt: 196 lbs
Position: Center/Left Wing
NHL Playing Career: 1990 – 2007
NHL Career Numbers: 982GP 310G – 407A – 717P
Seasons in Edmonton: 2 (2003-’04, 2006-’07) Neither being a full season.
For those that followed the team in the years leading up to the last lockout, the Oilers roster at times resembled a rag tag bunch, and the 2003-’04 NHL season was no exception. A look at the various names that adorns the roster from that year brings up names like Radek Dvorak, Mike York, Jani Rita, and Adam Oates. Wait, what? Adam Oates? Yeah, I don’t remember that either, but it’s true, Oates finished his career with a completely unremarkable season in Edmonton, poor guy. The year was also Ales Hemsky’s sophomore season, and Oiler fans were excited about Raffi Torres’ 20 goal rookie season; of course, Raffi would become known for a different sort of shot.
Go through all the names on that list of Oilers’ roster players that season, and one name shows up as one of the biggest impact that year, the late season acquisition of Petr Nedvěd from the New York Rangers. Nedvěd would post up 15 points in 16 games for the Oilers, and had become a bit of a fan favourite in the process, leading what would be an ultimately failed surge in the standings, as the Oilers tried to recover from a mid-season slump to make the playoffs. Boy, was that ever a common theme back in those days. (Though still better than the theme of mid to late season slump the Oilers have had lately.)
Coming out of the lockout, Nedvěd would go on to short, failed stints with both the Coyotes and Flyers, before the Oilers would claim him off of waivers in 2006-’07, where he would finish his career, posting 5 points in 19 games.
Though it’s not so much the ending of his career that was interesting, because it wasn’t; it was the beginning, before he had even stepped foot in the league. In 1989, after lighting up a international midget hockey tournament in Calgary (17 goals and 26 points), Nedvěd defected from his native Czechoslovakia, a country still behind the Iron Curtain of communism in Eastern Europe. After spending a season in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds, in which he put up 145 points in 71 games, Nedvěd was drafted second overall in the 1990 NHL entry draft by the Vancouver Canucks. His career in Vancouver would be short lived, after three seasons and 124 points in Canuck colours, contract talks would go sour and Nedvěd held out on the Canucks. During this, he would become a Canadian citizen and played for Canada in the 1994 Winter Olympics, winning a silver medal.
Nedvěd would best be known for his career with the Rangers, spending seven years in the Big Apple, notching 20 or more goals in 5 of those seasons. His best season statistically would be with the Penguins however, posting 45 goals and 99 points in the ’95-’96 season.
While no longer in the NHL, Nedvěd continues to play hockey in the Czech Republic. He captains his hometown team, HC Bílí Tygři Liberec, who currently have locked-out NHL’ers Ladislav Šmíd and Ondřej Pavelec on the roster. While 40 years old, Nedvěd posted up his best numbers in that league last year, posting 61 points in 49 games.
Random Trivia: When the Oilers traded for Nedvěd in March of 2004, they also re-acquired goaltender Jussi Markkanen, could you imagine if the Oilers would have had to turn to Ty Conklin alone in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals? Ouch.
Stay tuned for the next What’s in a Number, when we look back at a former Oiler captain.
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