The Ten Worst Free Agent Signings in Oilers History


I meant to finish this post before July 1st, but better late than never, right? This post has taken so long to complete due to the lack of easily accessible records of older contracts. So perhaps a better title for this post might be “The Ten Worst Recent Free Agent Signings in Oilers History.” (By the way, if anyone knows where I can find contract details from the eighties and nineties, please let me know. Maybe in the future I can improve this post.)

One note on this post and my previous post, “The Ten Best Free Agent Signings in Oilers History”: I am only evaluating new free agent signings, not re-signings.

Here are the ten worst free agent signings in Oilers history.

10. Dustin Penner (Aug. 2, 2007). Unlike the others on this list, Penner was signed as a restricted free agent (5 years/$21.25 million). As compensation, the Oilers had to give up three draft picks to Anaheim: a 2008 first rounder (#12 – Tyler Myers), a 2008 second rounder (#43 – Justin Schultz), and a 2008 third rounder (#73 – Kirill Petrov). Some fans loved Penner. Others thought he was lazy. Personally, I liked him as a player, but the Oilers did give up a lot to sign him. But now that Schultz has been signed by the Oilers, the sting of the compensation isn’t as bad. (On an unrelated note, Penner recently revealed on Twitter that, contrary to popular belief, he doesn’t like donairs.)

9. Ty Conklin (April 18, 2001). Was the Conklin signing bad? Probably not. His stats look pretty good. But all I remember about Conklin is the Hurricanes’ fifth goal in the first game of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals.

8. Darcy Hordichuk (July 1, 2011). Yes, it was only a one-year contract (1 year/$825,000), but he only played a few seconds per game in 2011-12. (That might be a bit of an exaggeration.)

7. Petr Klima (Feb. 26, 1997). To be honest, I can’t accurately judge this signing since I don’t have the contract details. Klima was signed in the middle of the season, so the Oilers probably didn’t have to pay him much. But he didn’t produce much either. In 16 games he only scored 1 goal. Klima is one of many former Oilers whom Edmonton signed late in their careers–Kevin Lowe, Marty McSorely, Bill Ranford, Mike Comrie, Ken Linseman, Rem Murray, etc. But let’s not forget May 15, 1990.

6. Adam Oates (Nov. 17, 2003). Like the Klima signing, I don’t remember much about this one. I’m not sure if the Oilers were expecting much from Oates. If they did, they were greatly disappointed. He played 60 games and produced only 18 points.

5. Eric Belanger (July 1, 2011). Most people initially considered the Belanger signing (3 years/$5.25 million) Tambellini’s best of last July. But Belanger scored only 4 goals in 2011-12. That’s $500,000 per goal. Maybe his shooting percentage of 3.4% had something to do with his poor production. If Belanger remains with Edmonton, expect some improvement this season.

4. Kurtis Foster (July 1, 2010). Foster (2 years/$3.6 million) was a disappointment in 2010-2011. After one season, he was traded to the Ducks for Andy Sutton.

3. Cam Barker (July 1, 2011). Barker is now only a bad memory. The Oilers took a chance on him last summer (1 year/$2.25 million), and now he’s gone. 

2. Sheldon Souray (July 12, 2007). Souray’s contract (5 years/$27 million) is now viewed as a big mistake due to his injuries–missing the majority of two seasons–and his feud with management, which resulted in him being banished to the AHL.

1. Nikolai Khabibulin (July 1, 2009). Looks like Oiler fans will have to suffer through one more year of the now-crumbling Bulin Wall (4 years/$15 million). Hopefully, this season Khabibulin will be in a backup role.