Let’s talk about the elephant in the room when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers
Without much going on in the NHL right now, I thought it’d be good to have a history lesson. There’s been lots of Oilers who have done multiple tours of duty. I hope I’m not leaving anybody out, but I might be as information on this topic is a bit sketchy.
Let me know in the comments section if this is the case. I’m going to leave out guys like Dave Hunter, Jussi Markannen, and Taylor Chorney who were here, left briefly, and then came back. If you’re gone for 15-20 games and then come back, you’re barely gone.
Scott Ferguson, Left D
Ferguson didn’t make much of a blip on the NHL radar screen, but he was an NHL regular for about 3 seasons. Ferguson is from Camrose, so he was fortunate in the fact that he spent most of his career with his hometown NHL team. He had a cup of coffee with the Oilers in the 1997-98 season, putting up no offence and no PIMs with a +1 in 1 game, typical stats for a 1st NHL game.
He got traded to what at the time was the Mighty Ducks franchise, spending a couple of seasons with their minor league team with another 2 NHL games before making his way back to Edmonton for his 2nd tour of duty. He then spent 20 games back with the organization in the 2000-01 season, spending the rest of the season in the AHL farm team of the day in Cape Breton.
He then made the NHL full time the next season, and spent that season as well as the next 2 with the Oilers as a bottom pairing d-man, putting up no more than 3 goals and 8 points in a season, with a +11 to boot. He did have 120 PIMs that same season, though, so he was a tough guy.
He played in Sweden during the full season NHL lockout in 2004-05, then spent 1 season in Minnesota before spending a season on San Jose’s farm team of the day, then 1 season in the German pro leagues before wrapping up his career. Not much information on what he’s doing now, although he was an assistant coach for the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers for 1 season in 2009-10.
219 NHL games all told, 201 with the Oilers.
Reijo Ruotsalainen, Right D
Ruotsalainen could’ve been a solid NHL player if only he’d stuck around the continent more. But if you look at his career, it looks like he may have become homesick for Europe. Ruotsalainen started out his career in his home country of Finland, playing for the same Karpat team that Jesse Puljujarvi spent last season and part of this season playing for in Finland.
After putting up an eye-popping 28 goals and 51 points in 34 games in the SM-Liiga, he caught the attention of the New York Rangers, who drafted him in 1980 and brought him over there the next season. His offence translated well to the NHL, as he spent the next 5 seasons with the Rangers, putting up no less than 17 goals in a season and 2 seasons of 20 and 28 goals. Oh, and no less than 59 points in a season. That was easier back in the offence-powered 80s, but still a phenomenal accomplishment.
After his contract expired, the Rangers inexplicably didn’t re-sign him, which is bizarre in my books for the amount of offence he put up. He went to play in the Swiss leagues the next season until the Oilers came calling late in the year and signed him for 16 games in the 86-87 season, where he put up 5-8-13 in those 16 games with a +8 and 2-5-7 in 21 playoff games, sticking around the Oilers long enough to win the cup with them that season.
Instead of re-signing, he went back to Europe, playing 1 season each in the Swedish and Swiss pro leagues before coming back to the NHL in 1989-90 with the Devils. The Oilers rescued him from a lousy franchise at the trade deadline that year, where he put up 1-7-8 in 10 games and a -1 before elevating his game in the playoffs, putting up 2-1-13 in 22 playoff games as the Oilers won their last cup in 1990.
After that he went back to Europe for good, cycling once again between the Swedish and Swiss pro leagues before wrapping up his career on Karpat’s development team in 1997-98. If only this guy would’ve stayed in the NHL, he would’ve had a much longer NHL career, and missed out on at least 1 more of the Oilers cups in the 80s, and would’ve been a pillar on D for at least a few seasons in the 90s. Oh, what might’ve been.
Petr Nedved, LW
Nedved was a very solid winger, spending 982 games in the NHL and piling up 310 goals and 717 points during those games. He only spent 35 of those games with the Oilers, in 2 separate times. He started out his career in Seattle of the WHL and was drafted by the Canucks #2 overall in 1990 after putting up 65-80-145 in 71 games with Seattle. He spent 3 seasons with Vancouver, with point totals improving every year – wow, no wonder this guy bypassed the minors.
As was the norm of the day in the pre-salary cap era, though, he became a bit of a journeyman as the best players of the day would routinely change teams going to the highest bidder. After Vancouver, he had stops in St. Louis, New York, Pittsburgh, the Czech pro leagues, the now-defunct IHL, then became a part of the “retirement home” Rangers again in the late 90s-early 2000s – remember them?
The team that had the highest payroll in the NHL year after year but never made the playoffs because all they did was sign the biggest free agents to huge contracts year after year? Boy did the salary cap ever save the Rangers from themselves.
Anyway, the Oilers part of things starts at the deadline of the 2003-04 season, when the Oilers would trade for Nedved in a bid to make the playoffs, which would fail, but Nedved went 5-10-15 in 16 games for the Oilers that season with a +1 to boot. He signed in Phoenix as a free agent the next season and then spent 2 seasons in Philadephia after that, spending 14 games on Philly’s farm team as well.
Philly had buried his contract in the minors, so in order to come back to the NHL, he had to clear re-entry waivers. This was how he returned to Edmonton for 19 games in 2006-07 as the Oilers claimed him on re-entry waivers, but this time he only went 1-4-5 in 19 games with a -5 as the now 36-year-old Nedved was past his prime and his body had succumbed to age.
He spent the final 7 seasons of his pro career playing in the Czech pro leagues. The guy never hung up his skates for good until he was 43, an impressive accomplishment. Only 35 games spent with the Oilers, and his 1st stint was memorable but his 2nd stint wasn’t.
Josh Green, L Center
Bottom 6 winger Josh Green was a scorer at the WHL whose offence just couldn’t translate to the NHL. Nonetheless, he still had an NHL career of 341 games where he put up 36-40-76 in his career with 206 PIMs.
Drafted by LA in the 2nd round of ’96, he was an NHL bubble player until he made his way to the Oilers as he was traded by the Islanders to us after Roman Hamrlik became too expensive in the pre-cap era and we had to trade him. Besides Green, the Oilers also got Eric Brewer and a 2nd round pick in the 2000 draft.
Green made his debut for the Oilers in the 2001 playoffs, having been injured for most of the season and only getting in 2 AHL games for the Hamilton Bulldogs, the farm team of the day. The next season was Green’s career-best, as he put up 10-5-15 and 52 PIMs and a +9 in 61 games. However, after putting up only 2 assists in 20 games with a -3 and 12 PIMs, he was traded to the Rangers in 2002 for a conditional pick in 2004.
He then bounced around the NHL and elsewhere, with stops in Washington, Calgary, Vancouver, the Rangers again, 4 different AHL teams, the Swedish pros, and the Austrian pros before ending up in Anaheim for 2011-12. He signed a 1 year, 2-way contract with the Oilers for 2011, but spent only 7 games with them before being placed on waivers and subsequently sent down to OKC, the farm team at the time. After another full season in OKC, he spent the remainder of his career in the Finnish pro leagues, where he was finally able to put that scoring touch to good use.
88 games spent with the Oilers, almost a third of his career. Not bad.