It’s October and that means two things. Hockey season and spooky season! With it being close to Halloween, I wanted to write something related to both. We all know that the Oilers for the past few decades have made shortsighted moves with no absolute no logic behind them. Well, I went back and gathered some of the moves the Oilers have made where they either came back to haunt them—whether it was in a game or just a result of roster construction.
Without further ado, let’s get haunted.
Rieder’s two shorthanded goals in less than a minute
Tobias Rieder was drafted by the Oilers back in 2011 in the fourth round. Toby went on to score 69 goals, accumulating 140 points in 112 OHL games. That pick looked like a steal. A fast, speedy right winger to play in the Oilers’ top-six long-term with Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, Taylor Hall, and Jordan Eberle. Then, Steve Tambellini, in an effort to get the team “more beef” on the farm team, inexplicably dealt him away to Arizona in exchange for Kale Kesey. At the time, the move caused outrage. Rieder would make his NHL debut in the 2014–15 season, otherwise known as the “McTank” era.
The Oilers were…. bad to say the least. On December 1, 2014 they had a record of 6–14–4, losing nine in a row at that point. The Coyotes were coming in with a record of 9–12–3. With Dallas Eakins’ job on the line, he needed a big performance from his team. What happened exactly? They lost 5–2. Not only that. Tobias Rieder showed them what a mistake trading him was.
He ended up scoring two shorthanded goals… on the same penalty kill. As a kid, all I remember was the amount of boos when Rieder was announced as the goal scorer for the second shorthanded goal. Not only that, Rieder set an NHL record for a rookie by scoring two shorthanded goals 58 seconds apart during one penalty kill.
Rieder came back to haunt the Oilers again when he signed back in 2018 and went the entire season without a goal. As Bob Nicholson would say in one of the most embarrassing quotes I’ve heard from a sports executive: “If Toby Rieder had scored 10–12 goals, we’d be in the playoffs.”
Cogliano’s 2017 second round Game 7 game-tying goal
First off. I cannot believe that the 2017 playoffs were six years ago. I was finishing up the seventh grade at that point. Time truly goes fast. During the 2010s, Andrew Cogliano was the guy you wanted on your team. He’s a pest, he’s an amazing team player, he can contribute both offensively and defensively, he’s a guy who would sacrifice his body to make a play—the list goes on.
Add to the fact that he was close to breaking the NHL Iron Man streak, he was very durable as well. He, along with Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, and Corey Perry are what created the Ducks’ identity back then. They would always bully the Oilers. The thing that makes this more sad is the fact that Cogliano started his career with Edmonton. In four seasons, Cogliano averaged around 36 points a season. Once again, Steve Tambellini traded him within the conference to the Anaheim Ducks for no reason.
During Game 7 of the second round between the young Oilers and the veteran Ducks, it was a tight game. Only one goal was scored—by Drake Caggiula—entering the midpoint of the game. The Oilers weren’t playing well but were hanging on. Kesler was in front of the net battling with Eric Gryba and Darnell Nurse. A puck was loose while Cam Talbot was down and Andrew Cogliano pounced on it and tied the game.
That goal gave the Ducks more life than ever and they would eventually win off a Nick Ritchie game-winning goal. The cherry on top was Cogliano also beat the Oilers in 2022 with the Colorado Avalanche; however, his impact then was far less than it was with Anaheim.
Dubnyk’s run as an elite NHL goalie
Devan Dubnyk spent the first five years of his career with the Blue and Orange. While the Oilers continued to sink to the bottom of the standings, Dubnyk went 50–59–19 in 139 games with a GAA of 2.78, a save percentage of .913, and an amazing 19.1 GSAx for the Oilers from 2009 to 2013. Stats like these on a rebuilding team are incredible. Then, in that offseason, Craig MacTavish absolutely shuttered Dubnyk’s confidence with this quote:
The question would be, has Devan established himself as a number one goalie in the National Hockey League? And I still think it’s a valid question. So, I think that Devan, although he’s trending upwards in his numbers and played adequately for us this year, I still think, and I know Devan feels the same way, that there’s another level for him.https://www.coppernblue.com/2013/5/24/4362424/mactavish-talks-to-season-ticket-holders
Uh. What else did he have to prove? If it wasn’t for Dubnyk, the Oilers would easily lose another see four to five wins turn into losses every season. Anyway, I digress. Shocking to absolutely no one, Dubnyk massively regressed the next year and was shipped off to Nashville for Matt Hendricks. After a brief stint with Montreal, Dubnyk found himself in Arizona and rebounded his game with the Coyotes’ goalie coach Sean Burke, who just won the cup with Vegas as their director of goaltending.
Needing a goaltender to replace Niklas Bäckström, the Minnesota Wild traded for Devan Dubnyk. Right away he had an immediate impact. With a 20.8 GSAx, and a record of 27–9–2, the Wild skyrocketed up the standings and Dubnyk would be a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.
Dubnyk would continue to be one of the league’s best until 2020. Meanwhile, the Oilers during that span went through guys like Ben Scrivens, Viktor Fasth, Mike Smith, Mikko Koskinen and a few others who couldn’t give them good enough goaltending.
The only one that was good was Cam Talbot, but he eventually fell off due to massive fatigue. Imagine if the Oilers had Devan Dubnyk since the start of the McDavid era. An elite goalie like him could have solved a lot of issues.
Petry could have been the solution to the Oilers’ RHD problem
While Jeff Petry never did anything major against the Oilers, his trade, like Dubnyk, set the team a few years back. Back on March 2, 2015, the Oilers were debating whether to trade or extend the soon-to-be UFA Jeff Petry. MacTavish, who later admitted it was a mistake, traded him to the Canadiens for two draft picks.
Petry emerged as a legit second pair stud for the Montreal Canadiens. Keeping Jeff around would have meant the Oilers had someone to pair with Oscar Klefbom for the long-term outlook of the franchise. As well, it would mean the Oilers wouldn’t have traded Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson, which was a factor in the Lucic signing. Do the Oilers beat the Ducks if you swap Hall in for Lucic and Petry in for Larsson? I’d say so. Speaking of Taylor Hall…
The Taylor Hall Trade
Well, you guys knew this was coming. June 29, 2016 the infamous “one-for-one” deal happened. A young 12-year-old me was devastated at the news. Larsson in his first year in Edmonton did everything you could ask for and he and Klefbom made an amazing top pair.
Hall’s team struggled so much that they won the draft lottery and got to select Nico Hischier. However, thanks to Peter Chiarelli’s roster construction and Todd McLellan’s inability to adapt and change his stubborn ways, the Oilers crashed back down to the bottom of the league standings, while Hall carried the Devils on his back to clinch a playoff spot and won the Hart Trophy.
During his time here, Larsson brought a solid, steady, and physical presence to the backend. However, trading away the guy who won the Hart in 2018 still stings to this day. I always think now how if that trade was made today, it would look a lot more fair. Larsson’s found his niche in Seattle while Hall is now on his sixth NHL team and looks to be a second liner in today’s game.
The scariest haunts in Edmonton
There’s so many other players that could be on here, but I think these were the five most notable off the top of my head. Let’s hope a guy like Kailer Yamamoto, Ethan Bear, or Klim Kostin doesn’t come back and do the same.