Many great players have worn the Edmonton Oilers’ jersey over the last four decades. But who is the best of the best?
We challenged you with that task. Over the week of voting, you were asked to pick six forwards, four defencemen, two goalies, and a coach to form the Oilers all-time all-stars.
Over 50,000 votes were cast.
How did you decide who to pick? Best stats? Most championships? Individual awards? Or maybe you just really liked a guy.
This week, find out who the fans picked. We’ll unveil one position set each day. Did your players make the list?
Coach: Glen Sather
In eleven seasons as Oilers head coach, Glen Sather won 464 regular season games, 89 playoff games, and four Stanley Cups.
He won Global News’ poll by a landslide, with 81 per cent of the votes cast.
Sather took a young group of players and helped shape them into champions, playing a high tempo style that showcased skill. He often pulled the right strings as the general manager as well, bringing in key players like Esa Tikkanen, Craig MacTavish, and Craig Simpson.
Goalie: Grant Fuhr
Grant Fuhr was your top goalie and came out with 45 per cent of the votes.
When it comes to the top goaltenders in the Oilers 40 year history, it’s very easy to start with Grant Fuhr. And why not? Of his 403 career NHL wins, 226 of them were with the Oilers.
Fuhr came up with the big save when the Oilers needed it. Playing in the highest-scoring era in NHL history, Fuhr’s calm demeanour allowed the Oilers to go for it on offence and feel confident that their goalie would bail them out.
He won the Vezina in 1987/88 after recording 40 wins and appearing in 75 games. His 226 victories are the most in franchise history.
After Fuhr, the debate begins. In second place, with 19 per cent of the votes, was Bill Ranford. (He beat Curtis Joseph by just one point!) The 1990 playoffs didn’t start well for Ranford.
He allowed six goals on 30 shots as the Oilers lost Game 1 to the Winnipeg Jets. However, Ranford turned it around, and the Oilers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to take the series in seven. Ranford only lost three games in the rest of the post-season and claimed the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Defence: Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe, Chris Pronger and Charles Huddy
The top four defencemen were Paul Coffey with 25 per cent of the votes, Kevin Lowe with 18 per cent, Chris Pronger with 13 per cent, tied with Charles Huddy who also had 13 per cent.
When he was flying, Coffey was untouchable. His end-to-end rushes were electrifying and often ended with an Oilers goal. Coffey scored 48 in 1985/86, still a record for most goals in a season by a blueliner. He won two Norris trophies and three Stanley Cups in Edmonton. Coffey (four times) and Bobby Orr (five times) remain the only defencemen ever to post over 110 points in season.
No one has played more games in an Oilers uniform than Kevin Lowe. The team’s first ever NHL draft pick was a decent point producer, but will be best remembered for ruggedness, leadership and sacrifice. Lowe was a stalwart on all five championship teams. He won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 1990 for leadership and humanitarian work.
Chris Pronger was only an Oiler for one season, but it was a season to remember. After recording 56 points in 80 regular season games, Pronger shone even brighter in the playoffs. He played almost 31 minutes per game and had 21 points in 24 games. Cam Ward won the Conn Smythe as Carolina took out the Oilers in Game 7 of the Cup Final, but Pronger’s performance was perhaps more worthy of the award.
He wasn’t as flashy as his teammate Paul Coffey, but Charlie Huddy was just as important to the Oilers success. He scored 20 goals in 1982/83 and tied Wayne Gretzky for the league lead in +/- at +61. On two occasions, Huddy finished sixth in voting for the Norris Trophy. He had 113 power-play points with the Oilers, second-most in franchise history behind Coffey.
Forwards: Gretzky, Messier, McDavid, Kurri, Draisaitl, Smyth
The top six forwards probably don’t come as a surprise. Leading the pack was Wayne Gretzky with 17 per cent of the votes, then Mark Messier and Connor McDavid were tied with 16 per cent. Jari Kurri and Leon Draisaitl followed with 13 and 12 per cent of the votes respectively. The final spot went to Ryan Smyth with eight per cent of the votes.
Where to begin with Wayne Gretzky? In nine seasons with the Oilers, he averaged 2.40 points-per-game. He won the Hart Trophy eight times. The Oilers won four Stanley Cups with him as captain. You can go on and on. The question wasn’t whether Gretzky would be on this list, it’s why would someone not vote for him?
Mark Messier is synonymous with leadership and clutch play. He scored 50 goals as a 21-year-old in 1981/82. After the Oilers won their first Stanley Cup in 1984, he won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP. With Gretzky now in Los Angeles, Messier won the Hart in 1989/90 and captained the Oilers to their fifth cup. His performance in Game 4 of the Campbell Conference Final against Chicago is legendary. With the Oilers down 2-1 in the series, he had two goals and two assists in a 4-2 win.
After just five seasons in the NHL, Connor McDavid has already won two scoring titles and a Hart Trophy. He was the driving force in the Oilers breaking a 10-year playoff drought in 2016/17. Whenever McDavid is on the ice, there’s the potential for something special to happen. Just ask Morgan Rielly.
Jari Kurri could score. Seven times with the Oilers, he tallied over 40 goals. But Kurri had an impact without them as well. On six occasions while with Edmonton he was in the top 10 in voting for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward. In the 1987 playoffs, Kurri struck for five game-winning goals had a shooting percentage of 28.8.
Ryan Smyth scored 39 goals in his first full season in the NHL and was one of the Oilers top offensive players for the next decade. His tearful goodbye to Edmonton when he was traded to New York Islanders in February 2007 remains one of the most heartbreaking moments in Oilers history. To the delight of fans, Smyth returned to the Oilers for the final three seasons of his career.
— With files from Kevin Karius, Global News