The Edmonton Oilers have had a long and hard road after the 2006 Cup run, not making the playoffs and being stuck in what we called “the decade of darkness.” During this period, the Oilers made four notable first-round picks who are no longer on the team. We wanted to know who out of these four players you would like back on the team? We asked, and you answered.
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Fond memories of former first-rounders
Among the four first-round picks to bring back, we listed Nail Yakupov, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Sam Gagner.
There’s merit in bringing back each player for different reasons, so let’s see how the votes came in and who’s the most desirable re-addition to the Oilers.
With less than 5% of the votes, the player with the least votes on coming back to Edmonton on our Twitter poll is 2012 first overall draft pick Nail Yakupov. This does not surprise me because I believe he is the biggest bust in recent Oilers’ history, if not the entire NHL.
Yakupov’s NHL career lasted six seasons. During this time, he played 350 games scoring 62 goals and putting up 74 assists for 136 points playing with the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche. The stat that really sticks out to me is the -89 plus-minus over his career; this highlights his significant defensive struggles and, after his first year, a lack of offensive numbers.
If he were to come back to the Oilers, it’s hard to say where he would fit on the already packed roster, but during his time in the NHL, he did see some success on the power play. I will put the “Yak Slide” as one of the most ridiculous goal celebrations in NHL history.
Marginally ahead with about 7% of votes is Sam Gagner. This surprised me as Gags has played nine seasons with the Oilers organization and is one of the most loyal Oil in my opinion. Gagner was drafted by the Oilers sixth overall back in 2007 and was quickly placed in the lineup the same year.
He played 967 games in his hockey career, scoring 184 goals and 321 assists for a total of 505 points. Gagner, who is now on the back nine of his hockey career, proved he can still be a useful fourth line player, and he has shown to be good on the penalty kill last year in Detroit. I think the reason for such a low number of votes is because of the skill of some of the other players on this list, not because he has fallen out of favour in Edmonton.
Earning a third of the votes and placing him in second place, Jordan Eberle is a desirable returnee. He was drafted 22nd overall by the Oilers back in 2008 and played seven seasons for the Oilers between 2010 and 2017. Eberle has played 858 career games scoring 262 goals and potting 333 assists for a total of 595 points. This past season he struggled on an underwhelming new Seattle Kraken team; Eberle had the lowest plus-minus on the team at an awful -28.
If the Oilers were to run it back on Eberle, I believe he would be best suited on the second or third line right wing as this would shelter him from the top line competition he saw in Seattle. It would be awesome to see him back in an Oilers uniform. I still remember the first goal he scored in the NHL against the Calgary Flames in 2010, which is still one of the best goals I have seen. I would love to see him back in Edmonton, but chances are slim if it ever happens.
A majority of the votes went towards Taylor Hall, placing him first in our poll. He was drafted first overall in 2010, was placed in the Oiler’s lineup later that same year and went on to play six seasons for the Oilers. Then a one-for-one trade for Adam Larsson happened and the rest was history.
Hall has played 761 games in his career, scoring 248 goals and getting 409 assists for a total of 657 points so far. During his last two seasons with the Boston Bruins, Hall has fit in exceptionally well, potting 28 goals and 47 assists in 97 games played.
If Hall somehow returned to the Oilers, it would be hard not to put him on the second line and reunite him with Leon Draisaitl, where he saw success in the past. Having a Hall, McDavid and Draisaitl on his offside for the one-timers could be a legendary setup on the power play.
Could the Oilers pull it off?
Although there is always a chance later down the line that one of these players could end up on the Oilers again, the chances are very slim this season. With the Oiler’s current cap situation, it would most likely have to be in a trade.
While it’s a bit of a fantasy discussion right at this very moment, it’s not something to rule out entirely. Stranger things have happened in the NHL this offseason. Which past first-round Oiler pick would you like to see come back? Comment below!