Enough of me whoring out a radio station I listen to. I’m not on their payroll. Anyway, I’ve been thinking for a while to do a Top 5 pertaining to the Oilers, specifically relating to the players. The problem with that is all Top 5 played on one team. From 1981-1988 the Oilers were a dynasty so doing a standard Top 5 might come off a bit trite.
3 – Paul Coffey
2 – Wayne Gretzky
1 – Mark Messier
(SIDEBAR: I know when you look at that at face value most would think that how could Gretzky not be the number one player. At first I agreed. Partially I’m biased since he’s my favorite player of all-time, but after talking to Chris he made a good point. After Gretzky was traded to the Kings, Messier led an Oilers team to another Stanley Cup Championship in 89-90. Also Mess didn’t need a bodyguard on the ice. He could score, pass, and deliver a timely elbow when duty called. It’s a damn shame the Oilers ever dealt Wayne. He wasn’t the only guy that cried that day. )
So now that we have addressed the All-Time 5, let’s look a little deeper and look at the Top 5 Post-Dynasty Players:
5 – Bill Ranford – Technically he was with the Oilers in 88-89, as a backup to Grant Fuhr, but when most people think of a backup to Fuhr they think of Andy Moog. In 89-90, Ranford did one thing that Moog never did; he won a Stanley Cup without the help of Fuhr. He became one of the league’s top goaltenders and stayed in Edmonton until 1996 when he was shipped up to Boston (cue the Dropkick Murphy’s). Ranford currently ranks second in career wins (167) and first in games played (449). While Ranford’s GAA (3.51) isn’t the sexiest number, it still ahead of Fuhr’s career GAA of 3.67. While Oilers fans might disagree, name a better goalie since?
4 – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Look, I know this might be a stretch considering Nugent-Hopkins is only 18-years-old and has 29 professional games under his belt, but the Oilers haven’t seen a play maker like him since #99 graced the ice of Rextall Place (before you get your panties in a bunch he’s got a lot to prove before he gets actual real comparisons to Gretzky). In his 29 games he’s currently sixth in the league in scoring with 32 points and is blowing all rookies out of the water holding a 10 point lead over Predators rookie Craig Smith (not that it affect where he ranks with the Oilers but it’s still impressive). At 18, the Nuge’s play is only going to get better. I have no doubt he’ll continue to improve and become one of the best players in the league.
1 – Ryan Smyth – I was stoked when the Oilers re-acquired Smyth in the offseason. The guy who grew up an Oilers fan returned home to give a veteran presence to a young Oilers squad. While Smyth has never been a flashy player he’s always been the guy who’s not afraid to do the little things to get the job done. Whether it’s digging out a puck in the corner, or clogging the goal mouth looking for redirections, Smyth has always brought the intangibles to the table. This gritty type of play has made him one of the biggest fan favorites in Oilers history. He gets extra points in my book because he still chooses to sport a mullet.
(SIDEBAR: I have a story somewhat related to Smyth. I almost got into a fight with his brother Kevin. In the 90’s I lived in Florida and Smyth was playing for the Orlando Solar Bears (stupid name), of the IHL. One night I was out with my girlfriend at a bar called One-Eyed Jack’s, and a few of the Solar Bears were there getting their drink on. We were having a good time with our group and Smyth kept making comments about my girlfriend; nothing too over the top, just the standard annoyances you have to deal with in a bar setting. Apparently Kev wasn’t happy his advancements weren’t going his way so he got up and approached us. With his advances still blown he grabbed her ass. At that point I snapped out, threw a punch, and had to be held back by my friends. I guess a couple of the Bears grabbed him as well. Okay it wasn’t the most exciting story, but it somewhat related).
Oilers fans! Who is in your Top 5? I want to hear from you. Hit me up at email@example.com and we’ll chat. There’s still that Twitter thing (it hasn’t gone away). Follow us @TheSportsRiot and it’ll help you get laid. I swear…
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