In less than 48 hours, the calendar will flip to 2020. The 2010’s came and went without much success in Edmonton. The Oilers made the playoffs just once (2017) and drafted first overall four times. It was truly a decade of darkness in the NHL’s most northern outpost.
There are some good memories from the decade, however. Over the next two days, we will relive the 2010’s right here at The Oilers Rig. Today, we kick off this quick series with a look back at the Edmonton Oilers best players of the decade.
We will be selecting three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender for players, along with a coach. Coaches had to have been with the club for at least two seasons, while skaters had to have played at least three seasons with the club.
This might seem easy, but when you take a closer look there really isn’t much to pick from here outside of the obvious candidates.
LW Taylor Hall: For all the debate Hall and his trade sparked, there is no denying that he was, by far, the best Oiler of the first five years of the decade. Hall played six seasons for the club, appearing in 381 games and collecting 328 points (132-196-328).
Hall represented hope for the fanbase, a new days and perhaps a new set of glory days. Those dreams never came to fruition, and Hall was dealt to New Jersey in June, 2016.
People will remember the losing from Hall era, but this was a brilliant player that provided Oilers fans with excitement on a nightly basis. Hall was a pillar for this club for six seasons, and his spot on this list is well deserved.
In dark times, Hall was a force up front and gave the Oilers an impact winger and true possession driver.
C Connor McDavid: There was no debate about this, right? McDavid, for my money, is the best player in the NHL and the best player to wear the Oilers jersey since Mark Messier left in the early 1990’s.
McDavid has won an MVP, two Ted Lindsay Awards and two Art Ross Trophies since entering the league in 2015. He’s got 435 points (150-285-435) in 328 games through five seasons, with one game to go in the decade tomorrow against the Rangers.
McDavid is a stud, and quite frankly he is the reason most fans even tune in to watch the club right now. He drives possession and has blinding speed to go along with generational skill.
If the Oilers can ever figure out how to build a team around McDavid, he’ll go down as one of the best players to ever lace up the skates in the NHL.
RW Leon Draisaitl: I’m cheating a little bit here, but Draisaitl did play right wing during the 2016-17 season for stretches. He has 373 points (147-226-373) in 392 games with the club this decade, and was the only Oilers player to score 50 goals in a season.
Leon has emerged as a force since the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, currently with 61 points. He’s one half of the game’s most dangerous dynamic duo, and had the Oilers in a playoff spot up until this weekend.
Draisaitl’s speed and skill is extremely entertaining to watch, while his sublime passing skills will mesmerize you. His shot has really improved since entering the the league, and I think he is currently one of the five best goal scorers in the entire NHL.
It would have been easy to put a natural winger like Jordan Eberle in this spot, but I think Draisaitl more than deserves it. The only question left for Draisaitl to answer is can he lead his own line?
D Oscar Klefbom: The Oilers haven’t had many great defensemen this decade, but Klefbom is the rare exception. Another divisive player among fans, Klefbom is a smart defenseman who can also move the puck, play both special teams and log big minutes.
On a value contract, Klefbom is arguably the most important player on this team not named McDavid or Draisaitl.
He’s the perfect defenseman for the modern NHL, was drafted and developed by the organization and currently holds down a top-four role for the team. Is he a sexy player? Absolutely not, but he is extremely effective and key to the success of the Oilers.
Over the course of his 357 NHL games, Klefbom has went from solid prospect to the club’s top rearguard. Not bad, not bad at all.
D Jeff Petry: This will turn some heads I’m sure, but Petry was a good player for a very bad Oilers team. Over the course of 295 games with the club, Petry scored 17 goals and added 57 assists for 74 points. Those aren’t eye popping numbers, but remember he was the only defenseman that was a threat to score for much of his five seasons with the club.
Petry was, and still is, an exceptional puck mover with a rocket of a shot. He can play both special teams and is a real offensive threat from the point. He has thrived with Montreal, but was a damn good player in Edmonton too.
It’s worth noting that Petry was always above water on some really poor defenses in Edmonton. He was, for a stretch, the only real top pairing defenseman that the club employed. I’d also argue that, almost five years later, the Oilers are still looking for his replacement.
G Cam Talbot: This was a no-brainer. Talbot was sensational during the 2016-17 season and was a major reason why the Oilers returned to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He also performed quite well in the back half of the 2015-16 season, and was decent in 2017-18. The wheels fell off a season ago, however, and Talbot was dumped to the Flyers in a salary cap related trade.
Over the course of 227 games, Talbot posted a 104-95-19 record with a .912 save percentage, 2.74 GAA and 12 shutouts.
Pickings for goaltenders is slim from this decade. Talbot stands out above the crowd like a giant. His performance in 2016-17 alone gets him on this list.
Todd McLellan: The only real other option was Tom Renney, who I thought about for a moment here. Side note, but the organization likely turns things around a lot quicker if they don’t fire Renney following the 2011-12 season.
Regardless, McLellan coached the Oilers for parts of four seasons and led the team to the playoffs in 2017 for the first time since 2006. McLellan never won less than 30 games with the club, but failed to make the playoffs in two of his three full seasons.
McLellan is a good coach that had the Oilers in a good place following the 2016-17 season. We’ll never know what could have been had GM Peter Chiarelli not stripped down the forward group and instead tried to improve his roster.
Perhaps McLellan is still here today and perhaps playoff hockey is not just a dream in Edmonton.
Forwards: Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ales Hemsky
Defensemen: Darnell Nurse, Ladislav Smid
Goaltender: Devan Dubnyk