It wasn’t a very fun decade for Edmonton Oilers fans. It was filled with last-place finishes, botched trades, and a whole lot of frustration. But we also got to witness some very big moments. From Sam Gagner’s historic game to an Oilers legend playing in his last career game. Today I am going to recall the Oilers’ biggest moments of the 2010s.
Nail Yakupov’s Sliding Celebration
Jan. 24, 2013
Nail Yakupov was the Oilers’ first overall selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and was expected to be a major offensive threat to the Oilers for years to come. Things didn’t turn out exactly as the team or Yakupov had hoped, and he was traded to the St. Louis Blues after four very mediocre seasons in Edmonton.
His most memorable moment with the club came in his rookie year against the Los Angeles Kings when he batted the puck out of mid-air to tie things up with 4.7 seconds remaining, sending the game to overtime. The goal itself was impressive, but the celebration that followed is what caught the eyes of the hockey world. He channelled his inner Theo Fleury and went sliding down the ice on his knees, and cheering.
Although Yakupov will go down as one of the biggest busts of all time, he did provide us with an unforgettable goal celebration.
3 Straight Draft Lottery Wins
2010, 2011, 2012
The Oilers finished the 2009-10 season in 30th place, recording only 62 points. As a result, they had the highest chance of being awarded the first-overall selection in the upcoming draft. Edmonton won the draft lottery and selected Taylor Hall. Hall went onto register 132 goals and 328 points in 331 games as an Oiler, before being traded to the New Jersey Devils in the summer of 2016. With Hall becoming a free agent at the end of the season, there is a possibility that we could see him in an Oilers jersey once again.
The Oilers were awarded the first overall pick again the following year and selected Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from the Red Deer Rebels. Nugent-Hopkins had an impressive rookie year. He finished tied for second in rookie scoring with Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog and was named as a Calder Trophy finalist. Since being drafted, he has been one of the Oilers’ most consistent players and has developed into one of the best two-way forwards in the league. In 564 career games, he has recorded 152 goals and 398 points.
Despite having two of the best young stars in the league, Edmonton found themselves at the bottom of the league once again, finishing just ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets were given the highest chances to select first overall. But the hockey gods had something different in mind. Edmonton went onto win the draft lottery once again and they were set to pick first overall for the third year in a row, while Columbus dropped down to the number two selection.
The Oilers wound up selecting Nail Yakupov, who would turn into one of the biggest NHL busts in recent memory. He scored just 50 goals and 111 points in 252 games in Edmonton. He spent time in St. Louis and Colorado before signing a two-year contract with St. Petersburg SKA of the Kontinental Hockey League.
Ben Scrivens’ Record-Setting Night
Jan. 29, 2014
Ben Scrivens came to Edmonton at a time when their goaltending was in shambles and they were well on their way to another bottom-five finish in the standings. Scrivens wasn’t able to steer Edmonton away from their impending fate, but he was able to provide one of the best single-game performances in NHL history. The struggling Oilers were coming into a game against a dominant San Jose Sharks team, who were 7-3-0 in their last 10 games.
Justin Schultz, Hall, and Eberle all scored to beat the Sharks 3-0, but Scrivens stole the show and delivered a historic 59-save shutout to secure the win. This was tied for the most shots that the Oilers had ever given up in a game. He set the record for most saves in a shutout, passing current Oilers goalie, Mike Smith, who previously held the record with 54. Scrivens’ record still stands to this day and there is a good chance we won’t see it broken anytime soon.
Ryan Smyth Plays His Last Game as an Oiler
April 12, 2014
The Oilers didn’t do a lot right in the early 2010s, but one thing that they absolutely nailed was giving Ryan Smyth a proper goodbye in his last game as an Oiler. He came into the game with 126 power-play goals, and had the chance to pass Glen Anderson to claim sole possession of the franchise record. Despite the Oilers’ best effort, they were unable to help Smyth achieve this milestone. Due to an Andrew Ference injury, the Oilers also named Smyth as team captain for the game, surprisingly the only team he sported the “C” in his 15-years with the Oilers.
Edmonton had only won 29 games that season, but they were able to pull off a 5-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks to cap off one of the most memorable moments of the decade.
Jordan Eberle’s First Career Goal
Oct. 7, 2010
On a night where all of the focus should have been on the first-overall pick, Hall, it was Eberle who stole the show in the season’s first ‘Battle of Alberta’. Eberle was already a household name in Canada, due to his clutch performances at the 2009 and 2010 World Junior Championships, but it was his first career goal that caught the attention of hockey fans around the world.
After receiving a perfect bank pass from Jim Vandermeer, Eberle broke down the ice and danced around Flames’ defensemen, Ian White, before placing a beautiful backhand top-shelf. The goal was voted as TSN’s play of the year.
Sam Gagner’s Eight-Point Night
Feb. 2, 2012
Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Darryl Sittler, those are the names that come to mind when you think of players who have recorded eight points in a single game. On Feb. 12, 2012, in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Sam Gagner cemented his spot in this elite club. The Oilers won the game 8-4 and Gagner factored in on all eight goals, picking up four goals and four assists.
With his eight-point performance, Gagner became one of just 11 players in NHL history to reach this feat, and was the first player to do so since Lemieux in the 1987-88 season.
The Trade is One for One
June 29, 2016
This is a day where the hockey world stood still. Not only did the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens swap their star defensemen, but the Oilers had also traded one of their top offensive weapons – Hall – for Adam Larsson who was still relatively unproven at the time.
At the time it seemed like a very lopsided trade in favour of the Devils, but if you fast forward to the 2019-20 season, Larsson has become one of Edmonton’s top defensemen. Plus, he will be a huge piece of their success moving forward. Hall, on the other hand, is having one of the worst seasons of his career and it appears that his time in New Jersey is coming to an end.
Back to the Playoffs
March 28, 2017
It had been over a decade since the last time the Oilers earned a postseason berth, but after defeating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1, Edmonton had punched their ticket to the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs.
April 12, 2017
The day was finally here, the day that Oilers fans had been waiting for, for so long. The city of Edmonton was hosting the San Jose Sharks for its first playoff series since the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. The Oilers dropped Game 1, 3-2 in overtime, but came out strong in Game 2 and 3, winning 1-0 and 2-0, respectively. The Sharks were relentless and beat the Oilers 7-0 in Game 4 to tie the series. Edmonton won Game 5, 4-3 in overtime, to regain the series lead and took Game 6 by a score of 3-1 to close out the series and advance to the second round against the Anaheim Ducks.
Edmonton got off to a quick start in round two, defeating the Ducks 5-3 and 2-1, to gain a 2-0 series lead heading back to Edmonton. The Ducks weren’t going to go down easy though. They won the next three games and were heading into Game 6 with the chance to win the series. Edmonton wasn’t ready to let their season end yet, as they went onto cook the Ducks 7-1 and sent the series to Game 7.
It was here in Game 7 of the second round where Edmonton’s playoff run came to an end. Anaheim won 2-1, putting an end to the Oilers’ season.
Connor McDavid Becomes the New Face of Edmonton
June 26, 2015
Connor McDavid has lived up to every little bit of hype that he had surrounding him in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He’s been a star for the Oilers and has arguably been the best player in the league for the past five seasons. He’s recorded three 100-point seasons, won the Art Ross Trophy and Ted Lindsay Trophies twice, and has also added a Hart Memorial Trophy to his collection, all before the age of 23.
McDavid has only made the playoffs once since entering the league, but a large part of that was due to his supporting cast. Now that he has some real talent around him, and it looks like it is only going to get better, the Oilers are going to be a serious contender for years to come.
With players like McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Oscar Klefbom, and Ethan Bear leading the way, the Oilers can kiss their decade of darkness goodbye and begin to welcome a new decade full of success.
Josh Vold covers the Edmonton Oilers here at TheHockeyWriters.com