There are tons of stars around the NHL. Nathan Mackinnon, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin. Fortunately for Oilers fans, two of the best I play with here in Edmonton, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Every night we see stars get fans out of their seats and highlights on TV.
However, there are always a couple of guys who go unnoticed. Their contributions may be just as important, but they are not what SportsCentre makes. Players who are underrated. Every team has some.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was one of those players for a while. Now, it seems the impact of him is showing a little more, especially when he’s out of the lineup.
Of course, there are many more players to speak of. In that sense, let’s delve into what The Nation thinks.
Certainly Ales Hemsky. He was such a skilled warrior!
— x — Richard LaPerle (@bowlguy) April 7, 2022
I’m Ales Hemsky. It was appreciated by a decent group of us, but not by most fans and certainly not by the media. Or organization. https://t.co/EOOCCVbZUi
— Marsha has baseball on her mind. (@Empress_Marsha) April 7, 2022
Much love to Ales Hemsky in the comments this week. I was in his last game as an Oiler against the Ottawa Senators, ironically. He scored twice that game and it’s one of my favorite Oilers memories. Everyone in the building knew it was his last game for the team, and it was great to see him have one last moment at Rexall Place.
Defs Andrew Ference!!
— Andria D (@anddids) April 7, 2022
—Taylor Grosfield (@GrosfieldTaylor) April 7, 2022
—Logan Burrill (@loganb300) April 7, 2022
I always loved seeing Ryan Jones with the Oilers! I’ll never forget the hat-trick he scored against Columbus in 2011. It’s really too bad we never got to see him in a playoff series. He would have been a great player to watch.
Matt Benning or Drake Caggiula
— ê (@WoodcroftSZN) April 7, 2022
Two players who really gave it their all for the Oilers. Trading Drake Caggiula was ridiculous at the time, especially since the return was Brandon Manning, of all people.
— BURGER BARON🍁 (@Burger_Baron) April 7, 2022
I’m going with the “Italian Stallone” Fernando Pisani! He led the Oilers to the 2006 finals with 14 playoff goals and scored that beautiful short-handed goal against Carolina in Game 5 to avoid elimination.
— LiveFromStitts-Vegas (@Carmels80) April 7, 2022
Jay Woodcroft and coaching staff. When are the Oilers going to sign them before someone else does?
– Mistermo (@mistermo23) April 7, 2022
And my favorite comment of all. Jay Woodcroft and his coaching staff. Without them, who knows where the Oilers would be right now. He probably wouldn’t be going toe-to-toe with the Colorado Avalance, but rather fighting for a playoff spot.
Lock them up Ken!
During my time as an Oilers fan, the most underrated player was Matt Hendricks. He is the first that came to mind when I asked this question.
His performances on the ice were by no means special; however, he always felt like he was the glue that held the team together. I don’t think that has been valued enough by the organization.
Edmonton had the opportunity to give him up, but allowed him to leave to join Winnipeg. The Jets reached the Western Conference Finals in his first year with the team after missing the playoffs the previous two. Meanwhile, the Oilers failed to capitalize on their playoff run in 2017 and missed the playoffs for the next two seasons.
What a coincidence.
Kris Russell is another name he comes to find. His willingness to risk his body is always appreciated in my books. He may not put up extravagant numbers, but his contributions in other ways can be just as important.
That will suffice for this week’s Thoughts on the Nation. Thanks to everyone who sent in their responses and I’ll see you next week.