Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s One Hit Wonder series. Each day, we will take a look at a new team’s three biggest one-hit wonders. These are players that had one great season or playoff run but never did anything like that again. Join us every day for a new team! Today we take a look at the Edmonton Oilers One-Hit Wonders.
The Edmonton Oilers Top Three One-Hit Wonders
The first on the Edmonton Oilers One Hit Wonders list is Jimmy Carson. Carson was the Los Angelas Kings’ second overall pick in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft and was perhaps most famous for being part of the Wayne Gretzky deal. He put up incredible stats as Junior player, including a 153 point season for the Verdun Junior Canadiens in 1985-86.
Carson continued to produce early in his NHL career. As a 19-year-old, he had 55 goals and 107 points season for the Kings in 1987-88. At that time, Carson had scored more goals than any other teenager in NHL history, including Wayne Gretzky. Carson was deemed as one of the best young goal scorers in the game and an elite scorer in the NHL for a long long time.
One Hit Season
Carson’s first season with the Oilers (1988-89) was an exceptional hit. He scored 49 goals and 100 points in 80 games and finished second on the team in scoring. At only 20, he was also a top ten player in the NHL in scoring. He looked like an important franchise piece for the Oilers for years to come.
Unfortunately for Edmonton, Carson demanded a trade out of Edmonton in November 1989. He was then traded to the Detroit Red Wings along with Kevin McClelland and a fifth-round draft pick for Adam Graves, Petr Klíma, and Joe Murphy. In retrospect, trading Carson was a good move for the Oilers. As the pieces, they got back in the deal were a huge part of helping them capture the 1990 Stanley Cup.
After the Wonder
After leaving Edmonton, Carson still managed to put up good numbers in Detroit. In his first season, he scored 20 goals and 36 points for Detroit in 44 games in 1989-90. It was still early in his career, but that was Carson’s lowest point per game average (0.818) as a pro. Little did we know, that was the start of a gradual decline for Carson’s production in the NHL.
From 1989-90 on, Carson never scored more than 34 goals and 69 points in a single season. He was also never a point-per-game player again. He played for three more seasons for Detroit before moving onto play for Los Angelas for two more seasons.
Despite getting an opportunity to play with Gretzky, Carson never seemed to have regained his scoring touch again. His second stint with LA only saw him score 16 goals in two seasons. Shortly after that, he would play 11 games for the Hartford Whalers in 1995-96 before leaving the NHL good at only 27.
Fernando Pisani was the Edmonton Oilers eighth-round pick in the 1996 NHL draft. In many ways, he beat the odds as a low pick and wasn’t a full-time NHL player until the age of 26. As a late bloomer, he managed to play in eight NHL seasons and almost 500 NHL regular-season games. He was considered as a depth forward for most of his NHL career but managed to score at least 13 goals or more in four consecutive seasons.
One Hit Season
Fernando Pisani is possibly best known for his incredible performance during the Oilers 2006 playoff run. Despite falling one game short of winning the Stanley Cup, Pisani was a key part of the Oiler’s success, scoring 14 goals and 18 points in 24 games.
He came up big for the Oilers in crucial games, including a two-goal, third-period performance in the series-clinching game six against the Red Wings in round one.
He also scored one of the biggest goals of the playoffs in game five of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Oilers were facing elimination and Pisani scored the first Stanley Cup Finals overtime shorthanded goal in NHL history, to help the Oilers avoid elimination. Despite falling one game short of winning the Stanley Cup, Pisani finished the 2006 playoffs with a league-leading 14 goals including 5 game-winners.
After the Wonder
After the 2006 playoff run, Pisani went on to score 14 goals and 28 points for the Oilers during the 2006-07 season. But the Oilers missed the playoffs that year and started to dismantle their 2006 playoff team. After that, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis before the start of the 2007–08 campaign and was only limited to 56 games that season.
Being two years removed from the 2006 playoff run, Pisani battled with injuries in his final two seasons with the Oilers. He only managed to put up 11 goals and 27 points from 2008 to 2010. He went on to play one more season for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010-11 before retiring from the NHL at the age of 33.
Nail Yakupov was a highly touted prospect coming out of junior and was selected first overall by the Oilers in the 2012 NHL draft. He was a prolific scorer in the OHL, scoring 49 goals and 106 points as a 16-year-old rookie. Many scouts projected him to be an elite scorer in the NHL.
Meanwhile, the Oilers thought Yakupov would be a cornerstone piece for the franchise for many years. But in retrospect, Yakupov is considered to be one of the biggest NHL draft busts of all time.
One Hit Season
Yakupov had a decent start to his NHL career. In his rookie season, he scored 17 goals and 31 points in 48 games. He also finished the regular season tied for first in points as a rookie along with Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers.
It was a lockout-shortened season, but if his stats were prorated into a regular 82 game schedule, Yakaupov would have finished the season with around 29 goals and 52 points. Those are decent numbers for a rookie. In many ways, Yakupov lived up to the hype in year one. Little did we know that would be the peak of his career.
After the Wonder
Unfortunately, Yakupov’s rookie numbers would end up being his career-high for his NHL career. After a strong rookie season, Yakupov did not improve for the next three seasons in Edmonton. From 2013-16, Yakupov only averaged 27 points and 11 goals a season. Including a very underwhelming, eight goals and 23 points in his final season with Oilers in 2015-16.
Things did not get better for Yakupov elsewhere. He spent one season playing for the St. Louis Blues, and only managed to score three goals and nine points in 40 games. In attempts to salvage his NHL-career, Yakupov joined the Colorado Avalanche for the 2017-18 season. In what turned out to be his final season in the NHL, Yakupov only managed to score nine goals and 16 points for Avalanche in 58 games.
After that, Yakupov opted to return to Russia to play in the KHL. He signed a two-year deal with SKA Saint Petersburg in the summer of 2018. Yakupov is still only 26 years old, so it remains to be seen if he takes another shot to the NHL before the end of his playing career.
That does for the Edmonton Oilers One Hit Wonders, tomorrow we look at the Florida Panthers One Hit Wonders.
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