Striking Oil Late in the NHL Draft

The Edmonton Oilers have had a rough history at the draft and outside of their first few years where they built a dynasty from within, they don’t really have much to write about in terms of successes. Missing in the 1st round is always seen as a huge mistake that can set a franchise back, so can missing on all your picks in the later rounds where some of the lesser known or less scouted players are found. The Detroit Red Wings have proven to be a model franchise when it comes to drafting having found superstars like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg late in their respective drafts. The Red Wings continue to prove how pivotal the later rounds can be in terms of staying competitive and they rarely waste a draft pick having found Johan Franzen, Gustav Nyquist and several other current roster players in the later rounds as well. In preperation of the 2014 NHL Draft here are the Edmonton Oilers top 10 late round picks in franchise history.

For this ranking players had to be drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the 4th round or later in their repective draft. This maintains the talent ratio as per that draft year with the amount of teams in the NHL in that respective year. Skaters will have needed to play a minimal of 200 NHL games, while goalies will have had to play a minimal of 100 NHL games to qualify. Notables that didn’t make the top 10 include;

RW – Walt Poddubny (1980 – 5th round – 90th overall) 468GP – 184G – 238A – 422PTS – 454PIM

C – Marc Habscheid (1981 – 6th round – 113th overall) 345GP – 72G – 91A – 163PTS – 171PIM

C – Shaun Van Allen (1987 – 5th round – 105th overall) 794GP – 84G – 185A – 269PTS – 481PIM

LW – Shjon Podein (1988 – 8th round – 166th overall) 699GP – 100G – 106A – 206PTS – 439PIM

C – Josef Beranek (1989 – 4th round – 78th overall) 531GP – 118G – 144A – 262PTS – 398PIM

RW – David Oliver (1991 – 7th round – 144th overall) 233GP – 49G – 49A – 98PTS – 84PIM

RW – Fernando Pisani (1996 – 8th round – 195th overall) 462GP – 87G – 82A – 169PTS – 200PIM

C – Matthew Lombardi (2000 – 7th round – 215th overall) 536GP – 101G – 161A – 262PTS – 293PIM


10. G – Jussi Markkanen (2001 – 5th round – 133rd overall)

128GP – 43W – 2.70GAA – o.901SV%

The Oilers had an interesting draft in 2001. Their 1st and 2nd round picks in Ales Hemsky and Doug Lynch were projected to be solid NHL players. However Lynch didn’t pan out as many of the others. Kari Haakana and Ales Pisa preferred Europe over staying in North America where they would’ve been career depth players and the money just wasn’t here for depth players as it was overseas. The player who did come over from Europe and play a significant role in Edmonton was their 5th round pick Jussi Markkanen. Markkanen stepped in one year after his draft and became a backup in Edmonton as a 26-year-old rookie. This came after a stellar late-blooming career in SM Liiga where he played for SaiPa and Tappara. The Oilers took a flyer on the back up who proved to be a capable backup to then starter Tommy Salo.

Markkanen however will be endeared as a fan favourite for his efforts in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. After Dwayne Roloson was injured in Game 1 of the final, the Oilers turned to Ty Conklin for Game 2 after a terrible miscommunicaton behind the net that led to the Game 1 loss. Markkanen was given the ball the rest of the way and never looked back. The task was simple, just give the team a chance to win. Markkanen held the fort and kept the Oilers in each game as they overcame a 2-0 and 3-1 series deficit to tie the series and force a seventh and deciding game the Oilers would eventually lose.

Markkanen would leave for Europe for the 2007-08 season as the Oilers began a massive downswing and still proved to be a capable goalie in the SM Liiga for SaiPa this season. He stands 8th all-time in franchise history for wins (35), 9th in games played for a goaltender (102) and 7th in shutouts (5).



9. LW – Jason Chimera (1997 – 5th round – 121st overall)

792GP – 136G – 174A – 310PTS – 742PIM   The Oilers are going to have alot of regrets about the 1997 NHL Draft. As per the era it wasn’t hard to see the Oilers missing on another 1st rounder and 9 of 10 selections. The only Oiler pick to buck the trend? Their 121st selection in the 5th round Jason Chimera.   Chimera had a substantial career in comparison to Michel Riesen, Patrick Dovigi and Sergei Yerkovich. The 1st round saw the Oilers – like many teams – pass on future NHLers Scott Hannan and Brenden Morrow. They also passed on Kristian Huselius and Henrik Tallinder in the 2nd round. Maxim Afinogenov went one pick later to Buffalo in the 3rd round.      

Chimera was an under-rated player coming out of the WHL having spent time with Medicine Hat and Brandon. He eventually transitioned into the Oilers line-up as a regular in 2002-03. The Oilers let Chimera walk despite his tremendous speed and under-rated checking ability. After a trade to Columbus that brought back Geoff Paukovich and Liam Reddox, Chimera went on to play 5 seasons with the Blue Jackets and then the last 5 seasons with the Washington Capitals. Although his time was brief the Oilers found a very servicable NHLer late in the 1997 Draft.


8. C – Kyle Brodziak (2003 – 7th round – 214th overall)

548GP – 89G – 119A – 208PTS – 285PIM

In the 2003 NHL Draft the Edmonton Oilers developed 7 players that saw time in the NHL. However quantity didn’t exactly translate to quality. Marc Pouliot, Colin McDonald, JF Jacques, Zack Stortini, Mathieu Roy and Troy Bodie have proven to be fringe NHLers with most no longer in the NHL. Brodziak however was an emerging future shutdown center that had size and a gritty style that endeared him to fans of the WHL Moose Jaw Warriors. Starting with the 2005 lockout Brodziak became a decent AHL center emerging with a breakout performance in 2006-07 with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins where he had 24-goals and 56-points in 62 games.

Brodziak eventually made his way onto the Oilers roster as a regular in 2007-08 and was a 30-point guy before the Oilers ended up shipping Brodziak off along with a 2009 6th round pick (Darcy Kuemper) for a 2009 4th round pick (Kyle Bigos) and 5th round pick (Olivier Roy). Neither of those players are with the Oilers organization these days and the Oilers gave up what turned out to be one of the better third-line centers in the league and a future starting goalie. Brodziak has played the last 5 seasons with the Wild and is entering the final year of a three-year deal that accompanies a $2.83M cap hit.



7. C – Shawn Horcoff (1998 – 4th round – 99th overall)

873GP – 169G – 298A – 467PTS – 563PIM   Probably one of the more polarizing figures in Oilers history, Horcoff was selected in the middle of the 1998 NHL Draft. The Oilers missed on their 1st round pick (13th) on defenseman Michael Henrich and failed to really produce anything significant outside of Horcoff (99th) and defenseman Alex Henry (67th). Henry wouldn’t last long in the NHL and became an AHL regular before heading over to Germany’s DEL league in 2012-13. That leaves Horcoff as the only thing the Oilers could show for the 1998 NHL Draft.      

With their third selection of the 1998 NHL Draft, the Oilers looked to the NCAA, Michigan State in particular, as they selected Shawn Horcoff in the 4th round (99th overall). An exceptional college career translated into a very strong NHL career, as Horcoff has played 796 regular season games, all with Edmonton, scoring 447 points and serving as the team’s current captain.” –

As much as Oiler fans rip on Horcoff, if you strip away the $5.5M cap hit and slot him into the 3rd line and just let him play he was a valuable piece to the Oilers group and one of the better faceoff men in the league for much of his time in Edmonton. Horcoff would go on to captain the Oilers team during the infancy of the current rebuild before his contract was off loaded to the Dallas Stars in exchange for a 7th round pick and Philip Larsen.      

Horcoff’s rise to fame came apart of the 2006 cinderella run to the Stanley Cup finals where the Oilers would lose to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7. Horcoff overachieved like many of the Oilers that year and had a 22-goal 73-point season as he centered the top line between wingers Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth. Unfortunately for the Oilers things wouldn’t go to par. Chris Pronger would leave, as did much of the supporting cast including Mike Peca who was a huge part of the playoff depth that got them to the dance. Horcoff still produced 3-straight 50-point seasons including a 50 in 53 point season that got Oilers management to believe he was a point-per-game player.       Horcoff is a cautionary tale in over-valuing your players and knowing when they’ve peaked. If Horcoff made a similar $3M per season current third-line center Boyd Gordon makes, he would still be an Oiler today.      



6. LW – Miroslav Satan (1993 – 5th round – 111th overall)

1,050GP – 363G – 372A – 735PTS – 464PIM   By 1993 the Oilers dynasty was over and the team was entering a rebuild after poor drafting and trades left the organizations cupboards barren. The Oilers would add eventual NHLers in Jason Arnott (7th overall), David Vyborny (33rd overall) and Miroslav Satan (111th overall). Satan would spend the next two seasons in Europe including a 42-goal in 39-game season with Trencin Dukla in the Slovakian league. After spending the 1994-95 season in the AHL affiliate in Cape Breton, the Oilers would bring Satan up for two seasons in 1996 and 1997. Satan was proving to be a rising goal-scoring presence putting up back-to-back 18 and 17 goal seasons.       

But the Oilers would give up a little too early on Satan as they didn’t see his underachieving soft-finesse style that sometimes latched to the perimeter viable in their future. They were also blinded by the draft status of the other prospects flooding the system like Nick Stajduhar, Joe Hulbig and Martin Reichel. Stajduhar, Hulbig and Reichel wouldn’t become the players they were projected to be and the Oilers lost a sniper who would record 9-straight 20-goal seasons in the NHL between 1998-2007.    

In return the Oilers got Barrie Moore and Craig Millar. It’s still a weak trade in hindsight but the Oilers thought they had more emerging talent than they truly had at the moment. Satan would help power the Sabres offense enroute to the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals where the Sabres would lose the series 4-2 to the Dallas Stars in overtime (remember Brett Hull’s foot in the crease?). It would take 10 years later but Satan would finally win his Stanley Cup in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.


5. RW – Kelly Buchberger (1985 – 9th round – 188th overall)

1,182GP – 105G – 204A – 309PTS – 2,297PIM

In 1984 the Oilers drafting started to be unproductive. They only produced an enforcer in Todd Ewen and weren’t bringing in anymore front-line talent through the draft. 1985 was much of the same. The Oilers missed on their 1st round pick (20th) Scott Metcalfe, their 2nd Todd Carnelley (41st) and 3rd Mike Ware (62nd). The Oilers missed on each of their picks in the first 8 rounds of the 1985 draft. Not a single Oiler from that draft played more than 19 games in the NHL aside from Buchberger. Buchberger was a gritty forward the Oilers found late in the 1985 draft in the 9th round. A young Buchberger would play a depth role on the 1987 and 1990 Stanley Cup winning teams. It was after the dynasty years that Buchberger proved his worth in Edmonton as a leader captaining the Oilers for 4 seasons.

In 1999 the Oilers left an aging Buchberger unprotected in the NHL Expansion Draft where he was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets). He’d spend one season with the Thrashers before moving between Los Angeles, Phoenix and Pittsburgh retiring during the 2005 lockout. Buchberger was never an optimum offensive force in his NHL career but he was a valuable player that could win faceoffs and play responsibly defensivey. He was a great compliment on the spectrum to a player like Doug Weight when Weight became an emerging leader in the Oilers lineup in the late 90s.



4. D – Steve Smith (1981 – 6th round – 111th overall)

804GP – 72G – 303A – 375PTS – 2,139PIM   In the 6th round of the 1981 draft the Oilers would draft a mainstay in their top 4 defense that would go on to be on 3 Stanley Cup winning teams (1987, 1988 and 1990). This was the same draft that saw the Oilers puck Grant Fuhr in the 1st round (8th) and Marc Habscheid in the 6th round (113th). Although when fans remember Smith they’ll think back to Game 7 of the 1986 Smythe Division Final. The Oilers were primed to win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1985 and 1986 but a errand pass that deflected off of Grant Fuhr’s skate would put the provincial-rival Calgary Flames up 3-2 in the 3rd period.   For trivia fans Perry Berezan was credited as the last Flames player to touch the puck before the own goal. Smith, 23 at the time, would have a long hard summer of scrutiny before the Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 1987.    

In a touching moment Wayne Gretzky would let Smith to be the first Oiler to touch the Stanley Cup after the ceremonial hand-off to the captain. Smith would skate a victory lap around Northlands Coliseum in what still to this day if one of the strongest memories of the Oilers dynasty. Smith would leave for Chicago for the start of the 1991-92 season until a premature retirement in 1997 because of injury. He would come out of retirement and finish his career in 2000 as a Calgary Flame. In his prime Smith was a shutdown defenseman that was a valuable piece on the Oilers special teams in their dynasty years. Smith would eventually rejoin the Oilers in July 2010 as an assistant coach managing the defense units.  


3. LW – Esa Tikkanen (1983 – 4th round – 80th overall)

877GP – 244G 386A – 630PTS – 1,077PIM The Finnish forward who started out as a mascot for Jokerit in his home country is still regarded as a fan favourite in Edmonton as he burst onto the scene during the 1985 playoffs. In the same draft year the Oilers would also produce Jeff Beuekeboom who Tikkanen would eventually outshine. Tikkanen would surprise everyone along with Jari Kurri in becoming two of Edmonton’s first European draft picks in franchise history. Tikkanen was a mainstay on the wing with Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri as a defensive specialist.  

”The Oilers faired so well with their first-ever European NHL Draft selection (Jari Kurri) they looked across the pond again in the 4th round in 1982, selecting Finnish forward Esa Tikkanen with the 82nd overall pick. Tikkanen went on to win four Stanley Cup titles in Edmonton, finishing his career with 630 regular season points and 132 more in the playoffs.” –

Tikkanen forever embodied and redefined the role of an agitator made famous by his ”Tiki-Talk” where he would mash both English and Finnish languages to both not only the opposition but get a laugh out of his teammates. During his prime Tikkanen was a finalist for the Frank Selke trophy on multiple occasions.    

At the 1993 trade deadline the Oilers traded Tikkanen for future captain Doug Weight. Tikkanen would win his 5th and final Stanley Cup with the 1994 Rangers. Tikkanen then bounced around between St. Louis, New Jersey, Vancouver, Florida and Washington. He would retire an Oiler during training camp in 1999 but not before making prominent playoff runs with the Rangers in 1997 (Eastern Conference Final) and the Capitals (Stanley Cup Finals) in 1998. To this day Tikkanen is still considered one of the best playoff performers of all-time with 72-goals and 132 points in 186 playoff games. In 186 Stanley Cup playoff games, he scored 72 goals and 60 assists for 132 points, with 275 penalty minutes. Tikkanen still ranks 8th all-time in franchise goals (178) and 10th in points (436).    



2. G – Andy Moog (1980 – 7th round – 132nd overall)

713GP – 372W – 3.13GAA – 0.890SV% In the early 1980s the Edmonton Oilers had an exciting goaltending duo in Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog that would propel during the infancy of their dynasty year. During the 1981 playoffs Moog emerged as a future NHL star as the Oilers stunned the powerhouse Montreal Canadiens in a first round sweep. Moog and Fuhr would platoon for much of their time after the trades of Ron Low and Ed Mio.    


The Oilers waited until the 7th round of their second-ever NHL Draft to select their first-ever goalie, using the 132nd overall pick in 1980 on Andy Moog. Selecting Andy was a dandy choice for the Oil, as the netminder went on to win two Stanley Cup titles in Edmonton, in addition to posting 372 career regular season victories and a career goals-against average of 3.13.” –

Eventually the Oilers crease would give way to Grant Fuhr after some impressive showings in the 1983 and 1984 playoffs respectively by Moog. Unfortunately Oiler fans will remember Moog as the guy that demanded a trade in 1987 and sat out much of the year to play for Canada at the Olympics. On the flip side Moog was traded at the 1988 trade deadline to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Bill Ranford who would win 2 Stanley Cups with the Oilers in 1988 (as Fuhr’s backup) and 1990 (won Conn Smythe trophy).      

After stops in Boston, Dallas and Montreal Moog would retire in 1998. He ended his career with 3 Stanley Cups (1984, 1985 & 1987) as well as a Jennings trophy in 1990. Moog still sits 4th all-time in franchies wins with 143 behind Fuhr, Ranford and Salo. Not bad for what was the steal of the draft in the 7th round in 1980.


1. RW – Glenn Anderson (1979 – 4th round – 69th overall)

1,129GP – 498G – 601A – 1,099PTS – 1,120PIM

This draft is still widely referred to as the Oilers best draft in franchise history. Why? Before snagging Anderson out of the University of Denver in the 4th round, they used their 1st round pick on Kevin Lowe (21st overall – Quebec Remparts) and got Mark Messier (48th – Cincinnati Stingers) in the 3rd round.

Anderson would go on play 11-seasons in the Oilers lineup before leaving for Toronto, St. Louis, NY Rangers, St. Louis again before a brief return in 1995-97 with the Oilers. He’d end his NHL career with St. Louis. As an Oiler Anderson would win 5 Stanley Cups and another with the Rangers in 1994. During his career he was a 4-time NHL All-Star and represented Canada in the 1980 Olympics, 198487 Canada Cup and 198992 World Championships.

In November 2008 Anderson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Oilers subsequently retired his number 9 in January 2009. The former power-forward sits 4th all-time in points (906) and 3rd all-time in goals (417) in franchise history.