From their early days in the WHA, to the dynasty days in the 1980’s, to their post-lockout doldrums, the Edmonton Oilers have captivated the hockey world since 1971. Even with the team under a constant microscope, there have been a few players who have slipped through the cracks of time and fallen into the forgotten category.
Number 5- Jochen Hecht
Best known for his decade-long stint with the Buffalo Sabres, Jochen Hecht bounced around the league for awhile in the early days of his NHL career. Being drafted by the St. Louis Blues 49th overall in 1995, he was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers on June 30, 2001 in a five-man deal highlighted by Doug Weight and Marty Reasoner. Hecht played a full 82-game season for the Oilers in 2001-02, scoring 16 goals and 40 points. Almost a full year later on June 22, 2002, Hecht was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres for a pair of second-round draft picks.
Number 4- Sergei Samsonov
After a successful start to his career with the Boston Bruins from 1997 to 2006, Sergei Samsonov was traded for the first time in his career at the 2006 trade deadline. The Oilers were gearing up for a playoff run and dealt Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny and a second round pick (that became Milan Lucic) in exchange for Samsonov. He played in 19 regular season games for the Oilers, scoring 16 points. Samsonov played in all 24 of Edmonton’s playoff games as they made it to the Stanley Cup Final. In the offseason, Samsonov signed a two-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens.
Number 3- Roman Hamrlik
Roman Hamrlik started his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning as a powerplay specialist, by far leading the team’s defenseman in points. In 1997-98, the Bolts found themselves at the bottom of the NHL standings and traded Hamrlik to the Oilers at the trade deadline for a trio of prospects. He played three seasons with the Oilers from 1997 to 2000. His offensive output wasn’t as impressive during his time in Edmonton, but he still managed to score 103 points in 196 games. On June 24, 2000, Hamrlik was dealt from the Oilers to the New York Islanders for Eric Brewer, Josh Green, and a second round pick.
Number 2- Erik Cole
The long-time Carolina Hurricanes star forward spent nine years with the team, except for a nine-month hiccup from July 1, 2008 to March 4, 2009. He was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defenseman Joni Pitkanen. Cole suited up for 63 games for the Oilers the following season, scoring 27 points, which was a career low for Erik Cole at the time. At the 2009 trade deadline, Cole was shipped back to Carolina in exchange for Patrick O’Sullivan and a second round pick. He finished the 2008-09 season with the Hurricanes scoring 15 points in 17 games.
Number 1- Vincent Damphousse
Remembered for his long tenures with three separate teams, the Maple Leafs, Canadiens or Sharks, Vincent Damphousse did have a short tenure with the Oilers in 1991. Playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1990-91 season, Damphousse was part of a blockbuster seven-man trade in the fall of 199 that sent future Hall of Famers Grant Fuhr and Glenn Anderson to the Leafs. Damphousse and Luke Richardson were the highlights of Edmonton’s return, and Damphousse led the Oilers in scoring for the 1991-92 season. On August 27, 1992, Damphousse was dealt yet again, this time to the Montreal Canadiens, where he would become a superstar and win a Stanley Cup.
Remembered as the guy Cam Ward replaced in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, Gerber spent the rest of his career as a fringe-NHLer. He signed a one-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers for the 2010-11 season, but was sent to the AHL as Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk controlled the NHL jobs. Gerber was recalled twice, once in mid-November where he played two games, and once in late-February, where he played in one game. He finished the season with three games played recording a 1.30 goals against average and a .958 save percentage. Those three games ended up being his last in the NHL as he fled back to Switzerland the following season.
Petr Nedved’s career was defined by perceived weak play, lack of playoff production, and multiple contract disputes. That didn’t stop him from playing in 982 NHL games and scoring 717 points. Nedved holds the distinction of being a two-time Oiler. His first stint came in 2004. He started the season with the New York Rangers but he was dealt to the Oilers after a disappointing season in New York, scoring just 31 points in 65 games. After the trade, Nedved scored 15 points in the Oilers last 16 games of the season, but the team failed to make the playoffs. Nedved went to Europe during the lockout and returned to the NHL with the Coyotes when the work stoppage was over. After a couple years in Philadelphia, he was claimed on waivers by the Oilers on January 2, 2007. Nedved finished out the season with the Oilers, though he only scored one goal and five points. When the season ended, he left North America and signed in his native Czech to finish his career.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: ctvnews.ca