4 NHL stars that nearly joined the Edmonton Oilers but didn’t

May 18 2023, 8:37 pm

The Edmonton Oilers are finally starting to get back to contender status after a decade of struggles.

That said, they are still far from the high-flying Oilers of the ’80s, a group who formed one of the better dynasties the NHL has ever seen with five Stanley Cup wins in seven years.

While a dominant stretch like that is nearly impossible in today’s salary cap era, the Oilers could have been a much better team in more recent times had it not been for some mismanagement and, in some cases, a lack of interest from potential acquisitions.

Here are four star-caliber players you may not have realized the Oilers came extremely close to acquiring.

1. Dany Heatley

Just days before free agency kicked off in 2009, the Edmonton Oilers were making waves after having acquired Dany Heatley from the Ottawa Senators. At least, so they thought.

Despite coming off of a 39-goal, 72-point season, Heatley was no longer happy in Ottawa and had requested a trade. The Oilers were interested and were able to agree with the Senators’ management on a deal which would have seen Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano, and Ladislav Smid head the other way.

While the Senators agreed, Heatley did not and refused the deal as was his right thanks to a no-trade clause in his contract. He instead was shipped to the San Jose Sharks a few months later, where he would go on to play in 162 regular season games with the organization, scoring 65 goals and 146 points.

2. Corey Perry

Though he has since reinvented himself into a complimentary bottom six-piece in recent years, Corey Perry was once one of the NHLs greatest goal scorers. He was also almost an Oiler.

Shortly after the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, one which saw Perry selected 28th overall, the Oilers found themselves in a contract dispute with Mike Comrie. Things got ugly to the point of no return, and the Oilers were able to work out a deal with the Anaheim Ducks that had Perry and a first-round pick headed their way in exchange for the disgruntled Comrie.

The trade ultimately fell through, as then Oilers’ GM Kevin Lowe insisted that Comrie needed to pay back half of his rookie bonuses to the team. Perry went on to play 14 seasons for the Ducks, scoring 372 goals and 776 points in 988 games, while also winning both a Hart Trophy and Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 2010-11.

3. Jaromir Jagr

After the 2008-09 season, Jaromir Jagr headed overseas to play in the KHL, where he would remain for the next three years. Though he would end up returning to the NHL, he almost never left in the first place due to a contract offer from the Oilers.

Jagr himself has admitted that he nearly took an offer to play for the Oilers in 2009-10, and only chose not to because of a previous agreement with Omsk Avangard. At this point, the future Hall-of-Famer was still a top-end talent, coming off of a season with the Rangers in which he had scored 25 goals and 71 points.

4. Ben Bishop

Though he isn’t as big of a name as the three above, Ben Bishop was a very good NHL goaltender for a number of years and would have looked fantastic in Oilers colours.

That nearly came to be, as the Ottawa Senators had decided they were ready to move on from Bishop given that they already had both Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner between the pipes.

The Oilers were intrigued and offered a package of Ryan Jones and a mid-round pick, which the Senators nearly bit on. That changed, however, when the Tampa Bay Lightning came in with an offer of their own in Cory Conacher and a fourth-round pick.

Bishop went on to become the Lightning’s number one immediately, appearing in 63 games that very next season. He would go on to play 227 games in a Lightning sweater, recording a very impressive 2.28 goals against average along with a .921 save percentage.

Colton PankiwColton Pankiw

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