Oilers draft history a roller-coaster of success

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:29 AM ET

EDMONTON - Few teams have experienced greater highs or more humiliating lows than the Edmonton Oilers. From Hall of Famers and dynasty makers like Lowe, Messier, Anderson, Coffey, Kurri and Fuhr to first-round flops lile Odelein, Metcalfe, Issel, Soberlak, Soules, Allison and Bonsignore, they have the trophies and scars to show for both ends of the draft day spectrum.

As D Day approaches once again, we look at Edmonton's history at the podium.

Notable steals

1980 - Jari Kurri, 69th overall.

The Oilers had seen enough of the Winnipeg Jets Euro-heavy lineup in the WHA to know there were some real hidden gems across the ocean. As a result, they were one of the first teams to explore those uncharted waters. Their very first non-North American pick turned out to be one of the greatest snipers in NHL history.

1983 - Esa Tikkanen, 82nd overall.

What do you know, that Kurri kid turned out to be pretty good. So the Oilers threw their line into Finland again and pulled out a player who could drive opponents to the brink of insanity with a hack, slash or broken-English insult (even though you couldn't understand it, you still knew it was pretty bad). An excellent two way player and even better agitator, Tikkanen helped Edmonton to four Stanley Cups.

1985 - Kelly Buchberger, 188th overall.

Teams with Dave Semenko and Don Jackson on them dont normally need more toughness, but the Oilers liked the spirit of the kid from Langenberg. Turns out they were right. The team's all-time penalty minutes leader, never afraid to bite off more than he could chew, remains one of the most popular players to ever wear the colours.

1998 - Shawn Horcoff, 99th overall.

Gripe all you want about his contract, but anybody this versatile and committed at 99 is robbery. Decent offence, excellent defence and faceoff ability and leadership. Likes Edmonton, too, although who wouldn't at $6 or $7 million a year.

2002 - Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene at 36 and 44.

When you take Jesse Niinimaki in the first round, your second round better be good. And this was Edmonton's best round 2 haul in a long time. Two role-playing character guys who'd be welcome in any lineup. Ask the Kings.

All-time busts

5 - MICHEL RIESEN, 14th overall in 1997.

CAREER NHL STATS: GP: 12, G: 0 A: 1 PIM: 4

It didnt take the Oilers long to realize there was a reason no team had ever drafted a guy from Switzerland in the first round before Edmonton. Dubbed the Swiss Miss (kids can be so cruel), Riesen lived up to the passive, timid stereotype. He played 12 lifeless games with the Oilers before realizing that some opponents play too rough and running home to the comfort and safety of the Swiss League.

4 - ALEXEI MIKHNOV 17th overall in 2000

CAREER NHL STATS: GP: 2, G: 0 A: 0 PIM: 0

This guy was a ghost. Osama Bin Laden didnt lay as low as the Russian winger did. Teammates, media and fans never even caught a glimpse of his shadow. Pictures from the Motherland were even scarce. Seven years after being drafted he finally decided to come to North America. He played two games with the Oilers and - poof! - he was gone, never to be seen in Edmonton again.

3 - JASON BONSIGNORE, 4th overall in 1994

CAREER NHL STATS: GP: 79, G: 3 A: 13 PIM: 16

No. 4 is a pretty high pick to be totally whiffing on, but the Oilers missed by a mile here. Despite concerns around the scouting world that he lacked the fortitude to compete at the NHL level (a former junior teammate said he had a heart the size of a pea) Edmonton couldnt ignore his skills in what was a weak draft year. Getting Ryan Smyth at No.6 took the sting off a colossal bust.

2 - JESSE NIINIMAKI 15th overall in 2002

CAREER NHL STATS: GP: 0, G: 0 A: 0 PIM: 0

Thin, pale, rather dainty and seemingly obsessed with fashion. All the things you're looking for in a hockey player. You could tell immediately, just by looking at him, that he'd never pan out. Five seconds after I saw him for the first time I turned to another writer and said that dude wont play one game in the NHL. He didnt. Sadly for the Oilers, I wasn't invited to the player interviews.

1 - ENTIRE DRAFT CLASS OF 1990

CAREER NHL STATS: GP: 0, G: 0 A: 0 PIM: 0

Widely regarded as the worst draft year in history. Any team. Any sport. Edmonton had 11 picks that fateful June and of those 11 players, not a single one of them played a single game in the NHL. Mind boggling when you consider that the mid 90s were a low-point in franchise history. If 30-year-old Senior Leaguer Gord Mark could go from the Irma Aces to the Oilers blueline, how bad were the Lowly Eleven, from Scott Allison at 17 to Sami Nuutinen at 248, that they didnt even warrant a look.

Edmonton's last 15 years at the draft

1996

First Pick - Boyd Devereaux (6th overall)

Mid-Round Notables: Tom Poti (59th)

Late-Round Steal: Fernando Pisani (195th)

1997

First Pick - Michael Riesen (14th overall)

Mid-Round Notables: Jason Chimera (121st)

Late-Round Steal: None

1998

First Pick - Michael Henrich (13th overall)

Mid-Round Notables: None

Late-Round Steal: Shawn Horcoff (99th)

1999

First Pick - Jani Rita (13th overall)

Mid-Round Notables: Alexei Semenov (36th)

Late-Round Steal: Mike Comrie (91st)

2000

First pick - Alexei Mikhnov (17th overall)

Mid Round Notables: Brad Winchester (36th)

Late round steal: *Matthew Lombardi (215th)

*Never signed with Oilers.

2001

First pick - Ales Hemsky (13th overall)

Mid-Round Notables: Jussi Markkanen (133rd)

Late Round Steal: None

2002

First pick - Jesse Niinimaki (15th overall)

Mid-Round Notables: Jarret Stoll (36th), Matt Greene (44th),

Late Round Steal: None

2003

First Pick - Marc-Antoine Pouliot (22nd overall)

Mid-Round Notables: JF Jacques (68th), Zack Stortini (94th)

Late-Round Steal: Kyle Brodziak (214th)

2004

First Pick - Devan Dubnyk (14th overall)

Mid-Round Notables: Rob Schremp (25th)

Late-Round Steal: None

2005

First Pick - Andrew Cogliano (25th overall)

Mid-Round Notables: Taylor Chorney (36th)

Late-Round Steal: None

2006

First Pick - Jeff Petry (45th overall)

Mid-Round Notables: Theo Peckham (75th)

Late-Round Steal: None

2007

First Pick - Sam Gagner (6th overall)

Mid-Round Notables: None

Late-Round Steal: Linus Omark (97th)

2008

First Pick - Jordan Eberle (22nd overall)

Mid-Round Notables: None

Late-Round Steal: Teemu Hartikainen (163rd)

2009

First Pick - Magnus Paajarvi (10th overall)

Mid-Round Notables: Anton Lander (40th)

Late-Round Steal: Too early to tell.

2010

First Pick - Taylor Hall (1st overall)

Mid-Round Notables: Too early to tell.

Late-Round Steal: Too early to tell.

Missed it by that much!

2003

22. Edmonton - Marc-Antoine Pouliot

23. Vancouver - Ryan Kesler

1995

6. Edmonton - Steve Kelly

7. Winnipeg - Shane Doan

1992

13. Edmonton - Joe Hulbig

14. Washington - Sergei Gonchar

1991

11. New Jersey - Brian Rolston

12. Edmonton - Tyler Wright

1990

17. Edmonton - Scott Allison

19. Winnipeg - Keith Tkachuk

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

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