We are in an era of growth when it comes to the sport of hockey.
Now, more than ever, we are seeing players from all kinds of countries make their way into pro leagues and become progressively more competitive. Perhaps at the forefront of this is Germany with players like Leon Draisaitl, Tim Stutzle, and Moritz Seider becoming superstars in the NHL.
However, even with that trend, it hasn’t allowed for quite enough German players to build out an entire roster. This is the case for a lot of different European countries, so, in an attempt to make sure every background of Oilers players is represented, I decided to construct a Team Europe.
It’s a concept we first saw back at the 2015 World Cup of Hockey and one that saw Team Europe take home second-place. Can an all-Oiler Team Europe be just as formidable? Let’s find out!
Miroslav Satan (Slovakia) – Leon Draisaitl (Germany) – Mariusz Czerkawski (Poland)
Zdeno Ciger (Slovakia) – Jochen Hecht (Germany) – Tomas Jurco (Slovakia)
Nathan Walker (Australia) – Sergei Zholtok (Latvia) – Patrick Russell (Denmark)
Patrick Thoreson (Norway) – Tobias Rieder (Germany) – Gaeten Haas (Switzerland)
Edmonton’s team Europe may have a case for the best top-line of all the nation teams that have been featured so far. Satan had an absolutely wonderful 14-season career capturing 735 points in the process. Czerkawski may not be a household name, but did have a decent run where he produced as a top-line player in the mid-90s. Draisaitl, a future Hall of Famer, should have no trouble getting centering the top-line.
The second line starts off decent with both Ciger and Hecht being top-six talents, but things begin to fall off with Jurco as their left-winger. Jurco might have once had the potential to be an offensive threat but never really lived up to the hype and topped out with just 53 points in over 200 games.
The depth really dries up after that as Walker (I’m counting Australia because I said so) and Russell haven’t been able to break into the league as consistent scorers. Zholtok is a pretty good option as the third-line center, having had a pretty respectable career, but he will have to carry the majority of the load with less than ideal linemates.
The fourth line is not terrible, but it also doesn’t inspire much confidence. Rieder is the most tenured player here and does round out a decent depth chart at the center ice position for team Europe. Haas showed some flashes with the Oilers of being a useful player, but similar to Russell, just couldn’t stick in the league for more than a few seasons. Thoreson is the weak-link with just 25 points in two NHL seasons.
Lubomir Visnovsky (Slovakia) – Philip Larsen (Denmark)
Andrej Sekera (Slovakia) – Sven Butenschon (Germany)
Martin Marincin (Slovakia) – Yohann Auvitu (France)
Thankfully, the Oilers seems to have a direct line to the defenceman factory out of Slovakia. The left side of this defensive group is fairly strong. Visnovsky and Sekera were both bonafide top-four guys in their primes and Marincin is more than capable in providing decent play on the bottom pair.
It’s the right side where things really fall apart, which is something I’m sure Oilers fans over the years can relate to. All of Larsen, Butenschon, and Auvitu were, at best, depth defenders who never had a regular spot on an NHL team.
To milk the most you can out of this group, you might have to play guys on their off-hand. If you do this you could at least have one pairing (Visnovsky-Sekera) that you could trust in some of the more critical situations. Anything below that pairing, however, is putting lipstick on a pig.
Martin Gerber (Switzerland)
You know what, this isn’t as bad as it might look.
Gerber might not be the starting goalie of our dreams but he actually did have a rather successful career. Through seven seasons he put up 113–78–21 record and was actually able to go undefeated as an Oiler, winning all three games he started in 2010–11 which is actually quite incredible considering how terrible that team was.
There is a chance he could end up catching lighting in a bottle and end up being one of those goalies that defy the odds and leads their underdog team to glory. He’ll have to do that, because he won’t have a backup to bail him out.
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire