I was wondering about a few players from the late '80s and early '90s Oilers, and was hoping some of you could help.
Firstly, Esa Tikkanen - I remember him as being a fierce competitor, and despite not being overly talented in the offensive end of things, he was an elite player in the defensive side of the game. Would that be a fair assessment? If Bobby Holik and Mike Peca were considered 'elite' talents of the '90s due to their defensive prowess, could Tikkanen be considered as an elite/core talent of the late '80s given his fierce nature, defensive prowess and decent offensive output?
Craig Muni - was he anything more than a 5th/6th defenseman in Edmonton?
Bryan Marchment - Was he ever anything more than a solid second pairing guy who got under everyones skin, including his own teammates?
Steve Smith - I remember him as being a very sound defenseman, capable of playing top minutes. Would it be fair to call him a legitimate number one defenseman in his prime?
Dave Manson - I know he was terribly slow, but was he anything more than a depth guy in his brief time in Edmonton?
Jeff Beukeboom - was he anything more than a solid #4 guy in Edmonton? Strangely, I only remember his play from his Ranger days.
Luke Richardson - again, I don't remember him being anything special (and still don't). Was he anything more than a depth guy?
Finally, Kelly Buchberger - I remember him being a fan favourite, warrior-type that was a strong penalty killer, but was he an 'impact' player? By 'impact', I mean a guy who was essentially a top 4-5 forward (not necessarily scoring-wise) on a club. For example, I'd put Todd Marchant or Mike Ricci as an impact player, but Scott Thornton wouldn't qualify.
I know that's a long list, so any help would be much appreciated.
Tikkanen would have been top 6 on any team. In their primes....
Tikkanen>>>Holik. Tikkanen and Peca on their best days would be very close. Tikkanen had edge, Tikkanen could shadow, Tikkanen could actually do pretty much anything asked of him. A very underrated player.
Muni is like a Rhett Warrener or Jay McKee type but grittier. Muni could drop the gloves, block shots.
Marchment tried to take out a couple guys knees as an Oiler and the team blew him out. There was as much outrage here as there was in the other team's cities. He didn't play horrible but no more than 2nd-3rd pairing.
Smith: he was top pairing for a couple years hear and was fairly solid all around, put some decent numbers up with an offensively dynamic team but I think he was more the beneficiary than the catalyst. Paul Coffey he was not.
Manson was a lot better here than some people realize. He was solid defensively, but then got hit in the throat with the puck and his game didn't seem to recover. His offensive numbers were as good playing with Weight(still young), Klima, Corson, Elik and Simpson as Smith's were playing with Gretzky, Messier, Kurri and Anderson.
Beukeboom wouldn't be considered a top four guy until he left Edmonton. He didn't start maturing until 25(which is often the case with big blueliners). But he was tough....I would liken him to a guy that was a step up from Wade Belak(And I like Belak for what he brings to the game.). He was a better skater, passer, and defensively than Belak but would always answer the bell if needed.
Richardson was good here as well. Tough, smart, defensively sound, a leader on the team. His best year was his last one here.
Bucky was a fourth liner. He is closer to Sean Avery than he is to Mike Ricci. The other part though is that he was well above average defensively and on the top penalty kill line. Bucky was a heart and soul guy that was smart, reasonably quick but would drop the gloves with Probert if he thought it would give the team a lift. I would take 20 Kelly Buchbergers over 20 lazy skilled guys in a heartbeat. His offensive skills were much below average but he could give you a goal once in a while. Had a decent shot when he was in a position to get it off.
Tikkanen always seems to be a player that gets under-rated historically! He was one of the best defensive forwards ever and had a lot of scoring punch surprisingly.. I'd personally have taken him over Peca in a heartbeat (granted I am an Oilers homer though ).
I still think Tikkanen's game 7 heroics against Calgary rate as one of the all time great individual Oiler performances. The Flames go up 3-0 and all seems lost in Cowtown. I'll never forget Tikk scores a long flaoter on Vernon and then come back to the bench for congrats and high fives. Except instead of just taking a bunch of high fives from his teammates Tikk goes wild. I mean he's literally screaming at his players on the bench, the camera pans in and Tikk looks like he so fired up he's ready to take the Flames on by himself. And that's exactly what he did, scored a hatrick including the beautiful OT winner. After the game a sweaty, beat red Tikk is leaving the ice and some classless Flame fans throws a drink at him.Tikk just looked up and smiled at the monkey and I thought to myself, I'll never forget what this man did tonight.
As for Manson he was really good the first year we got him. It seemed like he stiffed armed every second player that came down his side. He had a great shot too and scored some goals for us. Then he got hit in the throat (I think by a Momesso punch) , the refs caught on to his stiff arm and Sather decided to keep him after a big contact offer from the Caps and he just went downhill.
Tik: One of the most aggravating players to play against, kind of like a bigger, more talented version of Tyson Nash. He was a great compliment on the Gretz/Kurri line. Had a very underrated shot coming off the wing, his series winner against Calgary in OT during the '91 playoffs was a thing of absolute beauty. IMO he was never better than that year, other than a brief spurt w/ the Canucks in 95/96 he was never the same. I'd heard his wife was just as wacky as he was.
Muni: Solid defensive dman, like Cross but smaller and a better skater. 5/6 guy on a Cup winner, he'd be in our top 4 now.
Marchment: A lot like Ulanov, but dirtier...was a decent 2nd/3rd pairing guy when he played within his means, but too often went for the open ice widowmaker and would hang his dman partner out to dry in the process. I don't think Steve Kelly's forgotten the knee Marchment gave him in practice once.
Smith: One half of the twin towers w/ Beukeboom, big with a bit of talent. Top 3 guy on most teams IMO.
Beukeboom: Other half of the twin towers, used to lay out some wicked hits. A willing fighter, but not dominant. He lost as many as he won. He had a huge point shot, but seldom hit the net with it.
Manson: He was actually quite good the first year he was here, had maybe the hardest shot on the team and played vicious. In addition to that nasty shot to the throat, the other thing that hurt him was that fat contract his agent managed to wrangle out of Sather...once he started making the big money, it seemed like his game imploded from him trying too hard to justify the coin spent on him. He tried to do too much, and it cost him.
Richardson: Tough, physical, and a decent skater for his size. Wasn't he was one of the early winners of the Group V UFA sweepstakes, getting a fat contract w/ Philadelphia?
Bucky: Very good straight ahead skater, seemed to love getting his ass kicked on a weekly basis. The spiritual ancestor of Ethan Moreau, but more masochistic and a bit less talented. Every now and then he'd let loose a big time slapper that found net, but most times was 5 feet wide. Sound familiar?
I used to work for a company that sold magazines and they once got a deal from Esa. The sales rep had him on the phone closing the deal and his wife was in the background yelling... "ESAAAAAAAAAA."
I have visions of this little Finnish woman just giving him the business.
The other thing was that Esa had some knee problems that hurt his NHL career although he did continue to play until 2000-01 in the Denmark Elite League when he retired from the Essen Mosquitoes.
I liked Esa except for one year. I remember watching him play the year after he got a contract for $1 million dollars and by December he had only one goal and was playing terrible. Boy I was mad at him.
I can add a bit about Tik. His first NHL game was in the play offs and he is tied with a buncha people for 3rd most overtime playoff goals. One of my favorites is watching him shadow Gretzky, after he was traded to LA, in the playoffs. I didn't hear what he was saying, and doubt I would have understood much of it, but it sure seemed to get under the great ones skin. The have a fan webpage with a few audio samples of tik-talk out there. But I think i'm getting off topic now.