The Edmonton Oilers should be announcing the 2023 class for their newly established hall of fame any day now.
Last year’s class included every player whose number is retired by the club as well as fan-favourite Ryan Smyth and, longtime 80s Oiler, Lee Fogolin. All of the members had their names added to the front of sections in the arena.
This year’s class, when announced, will then be officially inducted and celebrated when the Oilers host the Calgary Flames at Commonwealth Stadium on October 29.
So, who could we be seeing as the next two inductees to the Oilers Hall? Let’s take a look at some of the most likely candidates:
Doug Weight could very well be the most skilled and talented player not to have his jersey number retired by the Edmonton Oilers.
In the years following the mass exodus of the dynasty Oilers, Weight stepped up to fill the role as Edmonton’s de-facto superstar in the 1990s. From his hollywood swagger to his deadly snapshot and incredible playmaking ability, there was a lot to like about what Weight brought to an otherwise lifeless Oilers club on most nights.
Though the first few years of his Oilers career was plagued by poor team results, Weight still managed to produce 226 points in 227 games between 1992-93 and 1995-96 despite missing the playoffs each season. That 1995-96 season featured a 104 points campaign which stood as the highest scoring season by an Oilers since the 1980s before Connor McDavid showed up.
Luckily, the team was able to improve around Weight and he became a critical part in those iconic playoff battles with the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000. During the playoffs he contributed 33 points in 39 games.
His all-time records with the Oilers ranks him 14th in goals (157), 8th in assists (407) and 10th in points (577). He was inducted into the USA Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.
He might not quite hit the high standard of having his #39 raised to the rafters, but it is a bit disconcerting that his play for the team throughout the 1990s has not been properly honoured by the Oilers. An induction into the Oilers Hall of Fame just feels like the obvious thing for Doug Weight.
Semenko was never going to be the marquee player on any NHL team. He wasn’t the most talented player and never put up a season higher than 27 points in his 9 year NHL career.
Despite that, he still found a way to stand out and become a critical part of some of the greatest Edmonton Oilers (and NHL) teams of all-time. What Semenko lacked in high-end skill he made up for in his passiona and willingness to do whatever it took to help out the team.
Many, including the likes of Wayne Gretzky, give Semenko credit for allowing Edmonton’s top-end players go about their game without the worry that an opponent would try to take liberties. If someone looked at Gretzky or Kurri the wrong way they would have to go through Semenko, which even the toughest of the tough would have to think twice about.
He was Edmonton’s original enforcer, and one of the best to ever do the job in the history of the league. In a city where hard work and passionate are held in the highest degree, Semenko quickly became a favourite to both those playing in the organization and fans following the team.
To understand just how much the city loves Semenko, take a look at how the city reacted and turned out to his celebration of life following his death in 2017. They don’t do that for just anybody in Edmonton.
He was never going to have his jersey retired, but having his name adorn a section of Rogers Place and inside the Oilers Hall of Fame would be an excellent tribute.
There are eras of Oilers hockey that are sometimes better left forgotten. The early 90s following the team’s fifth Stanley Cup were one and the decade of darkness between 2007 and 2015 were another. Fortunately, the team had a guy like Doug Weight to keep things exciting and the first half of the decade of darkness had the enigmatic Ales Hemsky.
Hemsky had a sort of magical quality to his game that made him such an interesting player to follow and watch in his prime. He was a magnificent puck handler and could turn defenders inside out on occasion with some silky hands. Put that together with superb vision and playmaking ability and you got yourself a pretty good player.
Though he wasn’t the most physcial player on the planet, he was able to take a hit or two and never once threw in the towel. I think a lot of Oilers fans can remember the battles he had with Calgary’s Robyn Regheir in the corners or of the time he got pasted by Niklas Kronwall. Hemsky never once backed down when the going got tough and, as I mentioned with Semenko, this endeared himself to both the organization and the fanbase.
It’s a shame that he only ever appeared in one playoff run with the team in 2006. He did leave with a few iconic moments with the team behind including a heroic pair of goals that helped the Oilers eliminate the President Trophy winning Detroit Red Wings in the first round and the infamous tying goal following Patrick Stefan’s missed open net chance.
It’s easy to overlook the time in which Hemsky played on the Oilers but, especially as someone who grew up watching those teams, #83 will always hold a special place in my heart. Steely determination and mesmerizing talent is a fantastic combination.
His 477 points through 652 games is unlikely to get his jersey retired, but a spot in the Oilers Hall of Fame is a no brainer.
Not a lot of the star players who have helped the Oilers win a Stanley Cup don’t already have their numbers hanging in the rafters. Of course, there are role players who haven’t had the honour, but almost all of the bonafide stars of those teams have gotten the banner treatment.
One player who hasn’t had the honour is Bill Ranford, who was the MVP of the team’s 1990 Stanley Cup victory and the longest tenured Oilers goaltender in franchise history.
Ranford is, without a doubt, the greatest goaltender in Oilers history not named Grant Fuhr. He spent parts of 10 seasons playing in Edmonton where he harnessed a two-pad stack play-style that must have been absolutely electric to watch back in those days.
Of course, he will always be remembered for his brilliant performance in the 1990 playoffs that saw hims struggle early on but eventually settle into an MVP calibre run. Through 22 games, Ranford put up a 16-6 record and .912 save percentage to capture both the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smyth.
It’s hard to find a goaltender who can get you over that hump and carry you to a Stanley Cup, but Ranford was exactly the type of player that team needed. He probably would have had more success during his Oilers career if it wasn’t for an exodus of star players that happened in the years following the victory.
Though he put in a lot of great years as the Oilers starting goalie, he could never singlehandidly help the team overcome their struggles.
There is an outside, though fairly unlikely, chance that Ranford could possibly get a call to the Hockey Hall of Fame one day but, in the meantime, it would be nice to see the organization formally recognize one of their greatest goaltenders.