The Edmonton Oilers' Top 10 One-Hit Wonders
In music, as it is in hockey, success can be fleeting.
When a player, like a musician, does something once that appears to resonate brilliance and wins over the public's adulation, the expectations that said person will follow up with something equally as brilliant goes up.
If one is unable to raise the bar that they've set for themselves, they will be remembered in infamy by those who once admired them for that "one thing that they did that one time."
In three decades of existence in the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers franchise has seen its share of players step onto the ice and accomplish things with the team that seem extraordinary—if only for a brief period of time.
The following list is meant to recognize current and former Oilers who, during their respective tenures with the team, caught lightning in a bottle and for whatever reason—be it injuries, slumping, or an early departure from the team, among others—just couldn't contain it.
"One-hits" can include anything from a single successful season, to a successful playoff run, or even a lonesome longstanding point streak.
Players are ranked in descending order, based upon several factors, including the degree of their success with the Oilers, their degree of success with other teams around the time of their feat (the "susceptibility of one-hit wonderdom" factor, as I like to call it), and their current level of infamy among Oilers circles because of their single moment in the sun.
So, here they are ranked from No. 10 to No. 1, the best of the Deee-Lites, Eiffel 65s, and Chumbawambas of the Edmonton Oilers over the past 30 years.
10. Chris Pronger
Love him, respect him, or just plain old despise him, Chris Pronger's one season with the Edmonton Oilers was undoubtedly a worthwhile one.
After being acquired from the St. Louis Blues in August 2005, Pronger started the 2005-06 campaign somewhat slow out of the blocks—once he found his groove, however, both he and the Oilers saw success soon follow.
Pronger finished the regular season with 56 points (ninth among NHL blueliners that year) and provided Edmonton with a reliable shutdown defenseman, which, in turn, helped them to a 95-point season.
While the Oilers were the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, the presence of the former Hart Trophy-winner kept Edmonton from ever being a true underdog in the playoffs, evidenced by the team's eventual Clarence Campbell trophy win, and near-miss in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Because of continued success throughout his career, Pronger absolutely can't be considered a one-hit wonder in an all-encompassing NHL sense; however, due to his unceremonious trade request and subsequent one season with the Oilers, he most definitely can be in this instance.
9. Vincent Damphousse
Returning to the subject of players who only spent one season in an Edmonton Oilers' uniform, let's now shift focus to Vincent Damphousse.
Known league-wide as a model of consistency and leadership, Damphousse was acquired by the Oilers in September 1991, having already established his presence with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a player capable of scoring 90 points a season.
Sure enough, during the 1991-92 season, Damphousse contributed 89 points in just 80 games for the Blue and Orange, while leading the team to an appearance in the Campbell Conference Finals.
During his time in Edmonton, he even managed to develop some fairly strong chemistry with some of the team's younger talent, like Joe Murphy.
Why, then, did Vincent Damphousse only last one season with the Oilers?
Despite having extremely high praise for both Oilers' management and the city of Edmonton, according to an interview with the Montreal Gazette in 2007, the 19-year veteran was going through a bitter divorce at the time, and with his immediate family—a strong support base in his life—living on the other side of the country, Damphousse felt the pressure weighing down on him.
Only 11 months after the team acquired him, Damphousse was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens for a package that included soon-to-be Oilers captain Shayne Corson.
8. Mike Krushelnyski
A well-traveled journeyman at the NHL level, Mike Krushelnyski joined the Edmonton Oilers during the 1984-85 season after spending the first three years of his career with the Boston Bruins.
Typically considered a middle-of-the-pack player, "Krush" (as he'll be henceforth known because I'm somewhat of a lazy typer) managed to bang out a couple of 60-plus point seasons—however, his single best year came during his tenure in Edmonton.
In his first season, Krush fit right in with the dynamic Oilers offense, notching 88 points in 80 games. While one could make the argument that such high numbers were a product of the playing environment he was in, no one can really be certain of that.
Regardless, after 1985, Krush's point production dropped off by nearly 30 points on average, and he never amassed more than 51 points in a season.
Perhaps the only thing Oiler fans of that era will remember him for is the fact that his name can be pretty damn hard to spell. And pronounce. (It just needs to be sounded out is all.)
7. Fernando Pisani
While he is, without question, a current fan favorite (particularly among Edmonton's Italian community) and widely revered for making a triumphant return to the lineup after adjusting to life with ulcerative colitis, Fernando Pisani will always be loved by Oilers fans for his role in one of the greatest stretches in the team's recent memory.
Normally typecast as a third-line right winger for the Copper and Blue, Pisani was instrumental in helping lead the Oilers to within a goal of the Stanley Cup against the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, notching a league-high 14 goals and tying for sixth in playoff scoring.
His defining moment came in the first overtime of Game Five of the Cup Finals. After Steve Staios had taken a penalty and put the Oilers down a man, Pisani intercepted a cross-ice pass from Cory Stillman, allowing him to break in and roof the shorthanded winner on 'Canes goaltender Cam Ward and bring the series back to Edmonton (pictured).
While typically considered a two-way forward with good defensive awareness and the ability to step up in the clutch, outside of the 2005-06 playoffs, the six-year veteran has posted no more than 37 points in an NHL season—in a couple of instances, he has put up only a few more points in an entire season than his successful playoff run.
6. Jimmy Carson
Imagine being forever known as the guy that had to follow up Wayne Gretzky in Edmonton. The boos, the jeers, the unfair expectations—whether they're deserved or not.
That's more or less what life must have been like for Jimmy Carson during the 1988-89 season.
As the centerpiece of one of the NHL's most notorious deals and fresh off of a 107-point season with the Los Angeles Kings, Carson was shipped off to Edmonton along with Martin Gelinas, draft picks, and $15 million for Gretzky, Marty McSorley, and Mike Krushelnyski.
Despite the inevitable scrutiny, Carson managed to perform extremely well under the circumstances in his time with the Oilers, scoring an even 100 points in just 80 games, while leading the team to a first-round playoff loss against—guess who?—the Los Angeles Kings.
Regardless of how Carson performed in the City of Champions, however, he was still always viewed as the guy who came in and tried to replace Wayne Gretzky. Because of this, his success would only last one year and four games before he was dealt to his hometown Detroit Red Wings.
5. Andrei Kovalenko
With Doug Weight and Zdeno Ciger providing the only real offense for the Oilers during the 1995-96 season, the onus was on management the following year to bring in guys that could help create a healthy stable of goal-scorers.
Enter Andrei Kovalenko.
Previously a member of the Montreal Canadiens (originally acquired from Colorado as part of the Patrick Roy trade), Edmonton acquired the Russian forward in exchange for defensive forward Scott Thornton.
Nicknamed "The Russian Tank," Kovalenko came to the Oilers as part of the new offensive wave and was immediately productive. In his debut season with the newly-dubbed Copper and Blue, he produced 32 goals and 59 points to finish third in team scoring.
Even further to his credit, when Jason Arnott suffered an injury prior the NHL All-Star Game in San Jose and nearly couldn't suit up, Kovalenko was rumored to be in consideration as the alternate Oilers representative on the Western Conference roster.
Beyond 1997, however, the Kovalenko experiment had failed to yield any significant results, as he failed to surpass 27 points in the next two seasons, and was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Flyers.
4. Mathieu Garon
Coming into the 2007-08 campaign, the Oilers had a new lease on life thanks to the signings of Dustin Penner and Sheldon Souray, as well as the acquisition of Joni Pitkanen from Philadelphia.
However, things didn't quite turn out as planned, as Souray suffered a shoulder injury, and the team flirted with the .500 mark for the first three-fifths of the season.
Who would've thought that the man to nearly salvage the season would've been the one person that everyone thought was brought in simply as a safety net for Dwayne Roloson?
Down the stretch, Garon began compiling wins, which kept the Oilers slim chances of making the playoffs afloat. Eventually taking over the No. 1 goaltender position, he finished at a record of 26–18–1 with a .913 save percentage.
Despite the effort, Edmonton still missed out on the postseason, three points behind the eighth-place Nashville Predators.
Expectations for Garon going into the following season were, as a result, much higher, with the words "number-one goaltender" being bandied about.
The Chandler, Quebec native failed to regain his form and ended up back on the bench behind Dwayne Roloson, before eventually being dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins (where he won a Stanley Cup, mind you.)
3. Petr Nedved
Having already posted seasons of 71, 78, and 91 points at various times in his NHL career, Petr Nedved was acquired by the Edmonton Oilers in the latter half of the 2003-04 season, in order to ignite a spark in the team during the stretch drive toward the playoffs.
While the Oilers fell short of the postseason by two points, Nedved came alive during that period and put away 15 points in 16 games—far better than the 31 points in 65 games pace that he was maintaining with the Rangers prior to his trade.
Many believed that Nedved had re-discovered himself in Edmonton, and the Oilers subsequently tried to re-up him to a new contract that summer. Instead, Nedved opted for a more suitable location for himself and his wife at the time, supermodel Veronika Varekova, signing with the Phoenix Coyotes.
At face value, Nedved's time in 2004 with the Oilers doesn't seem like much—he came in as a rental, did what he could to help, and left.
What makes the Czech-Canadian winger a "one-hit wonder" in this sense, however, is that he would later re-join the Copper and Blue under similar circumstances in 2007 and only amass a paltry five points in 19 games.
2. Scott Fraser
Right now, a few of you might be looking at the fresh-faced youngster wearing the No. 18 in the picture to your left and going, "who in the blue hell is that?"
Easily the least recognizable name on this list, Scott Fraser rose out of obscurity to join the Edmonton Oilers and, fittingly, faded right back into it.
Originally a ninth-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 1993, Fraser seemed destined to wind up a career minor-leaguer, bouncing between three AHL teams and an IHL team before finally landing with the Oilers' farm club, the Hamilton Bulldogs.
During the 1997-98 season, however, the youngster caught his big break on a call-up with the Oilers—and he took full advantage of it.
In a stretch of 29 games, Fraser clicked just under 1.0 PPG, tallying 23 points.
Seemingly on track to finally being capable of handling the pressures of the NHL, Fraser—an unrestricted free-agent the following summer—decided to test his value on the open market, and was eventually snagged by the financially gung-ho, Neil Smith-era New York Rangers at a price tag of $4 million over three years.
But that's as far as he would ever reach.
The following season with the Blueshirts, Fraser failed to meet expectations out of training camp and lasted only 28 games with just six points to show for it.
1. Alexander Selivanov
Perhaps one of the greatest beacons of inconsistency that the Oilers have acquired in the past two decades is Alexander Selivanov.
At the top of his game, Selivanov possessed the necessary tools to be a dominant offensive force—a 6'0", 207 pound frame, the ability to shoot and strike his intended target anywhere from 20–30 feet away, and a little bit of finesse just for the hell of it.
However, Selivanov was notorious for being wildly inconsistent and, because of his inability to maintain a high level of play, was never able to stick around long enough at the NHL level to reach that upper echelon.
When his name comes up in conversation among Oilers fans, the first thing—and probably only thing—that immediately comes to mind is the 1999-2000 season. Selivanov started out of the gate like a runaway freight train caught on fire, potting 27 goals before the first half.
He even led the NHL in goals for a short period of time, giving Pittsburgh Penguins star Jaromir Jagr a run for his money.
However, injuries plummeted Selivanov back to Earth, and after making his awaited return to the lineup, the Russian winger was never able to recapture the magic that gave him his one fleeting half-season of glory.
He would eventually finish the year with 47 points and the same 27 goals he started with, and become a bit of a laughing-stock for not being able to continue his torrid pace.