Edmonton Oilers

Building the all-time Russian Edmonton Oilers roster

It doesn’t appear that the Edmonton Oilers mix too well with Russian players.

For whatever reason, the organization seems to shy away from the country when it comes to employing long-term and successful NHL players. It is quite strange if you think about it, considering the similarities in climate and the passion that both Russian and Edmonton fanbases seem to share.

That being said, there are still some pretty good Russians that had success on the team, particularly on the defensive side of the coin.

So, what would a roster of Russian Oilers look like? I’m glad you asked…


Sergei Samsonov – German Titov – Andrei Kovalenko

Alexander Selivanov – Anatoli Semenov – Nail Yakupov

Valeri Zelepukin – Klim Kostin – Roman Oksiuta

Anton Slepyshev – Bogdan Yakimov -Vladimir Vorobiev

This is a rather thin forward group if I am being honest. Russia is known for producing electrifying offensive talents, but outside of maybe Sergei Samsonov, there isn’t a lot of the flair you would expect.

The top line is respectable and would definitely put up points. The trio of Titov, Samsonov, and Kovalenko combined for over 1300 points in the NHL. It’s got first-line potential for sure. Hell, I’ll even give the second-line some credit as both Semenov and Selivanov had pretty decent careers and are linemates that could maybe help a prime Yakupov to, well, maybe extend that prime past his rookie season.

The top-six has it’s warts, that’s obvious, and the bottom-six doesn’t really do much to help them out. We had to slot Kostin is as the third-line centre which is honestly above where he should be playing at. Oksiuta is probably fine on the wing for what he can bring. The only bright spot on this line is Zelepukin, who put up some decent numbers with 294 career points, which helps but doesn’t make this an exceptional line.

The fourth line is where we see things fall off. Slepyshev is the veteran of the trio with just 102 games. Yakimov comes in with one while Vorobiev has just 33. This is more akin to an AHL line than anything you’d see in the big leagues.


Igor Kravchuk – Boris Mironov

Dmitry Kulikov – Nikita Nikitin

Denis Grebeshkov – Ilya Byakin

The defensive group for the Russians is surprisingly decent.

Both Kravchuk and Mironov provide the team with intimidating and productive play on the top pair. Either could easily slot in as a PP option if needed.

Kulikov has had a steady career as a reliable defender and could absolutely hold down the second pairing with Nikitin. You might want an upgrade on the right-side for this pairing, but a prime Nikitin gets the job done in this role.

The third pairing, as per usual with these nation teams, does leave a bit more to be desired. Grebeshkov is fine here but Byakin played just 55 games in the NHL for some pretty bad Edmonton and San Jose teams. Probably not an NHLer on a competitive team.


Nikolai Khabibulin

Ilya Bryzgalov

If the Russian Oilers have any strengths, it’s definitely in-between the pipes.

Khabibulin was an absolute wall during his prime years in both Tampa Bay and Chicago, winning cups with both clubs. He is a fantastic choice for the starting position on this team.

Backing him up one of hockey’s most interesting personalities in Bryzgalov. While his decline was rather quick and abrupt, it’s easy to forget just how good Bryz was when he was playing with in Phoenix. He had a few exceptional seasons at the top of his game and was, for a time, regarded as one of the best in the league. It’s a wonderful player to have in the backup spot.

Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire

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