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Tencer's Blog - Where are they now?

by Dan Tencer / Edmonton Oilers
Esa Tikkanen (right) celebrates with Jari Kurri.

I got an e-mail from a fan earlier this week suggesting that I have a weekly segment on my radio show where I would choose one past Oilers player and update his whereabouts and what he is up to. I thought it was a phenomenal idea, so I started doing some research and have decided to share my work with all of you before it hits that air. So, without further delay, here are a few names from a very eclectic list of former Oilers with an update on where they are now!


A 5-time Stanley Cup winner, the unintelligible Finn was a mainstay on the Oilers championship teams of the 1980's and remains one of very few NHL players to make their league debut in a Stanley Cup Final (1985). Drafted 80th overall by the Oilers in 1983, Tikkanen would go on to play for 9 NHL teams, scoring 244 regular season goals and another 72 in the playoffs. Since retiring from the NHL following the 98/99 season, Tikkanen continued to play up until 04/05, including a stint on a South Korean team. He took up coaching in Norway in 2005 and last December, Tikkanen was named head coach of Jokipojat in the Mestis league in Finland.


Drafted by the Oilers in the 7th round in 1991, Oliver scored 37 goals in 139 games as a member of the team from '94-'97. He went on to play just shy of 100 more games for 4 other teams before taking his career overseas to Germany, Great Britain and Sweden. Following his return to North America, Oliver has worked his way up as a member of the Colorado Avalanche front office staff, currently serving as Director of Player Development for the franchise.


The flashy 1st round draft pick from 2004 never could crack the Oilers lineup. Despite much hype from fans surrounding his high skill level, Schremp's game was turned down by 3 different coaching staffs before he was claimed by the New York Islanders off of waivers in September of 2009. Since then, he's found a fairly regular home in their lineup, posting 17-30-47 in 83 games. Schremp is 7/13 in shootouts in his NHL career.


The Slovakian winger showed big things in his brief time with the Oilers in the mid-90's, posting a 31 goal season in 1995-96 before departing the NHL to return home to Slovakia, demonstrating that his love for his homeland meant more than the millions he could potentially earn in the NHL. Ciger did return to the best league in the world a number of years later, scoring 12 goals in a combined 56 games for the Rangers and Lightning. Today, Ciger is the coach of Slovakian club team HC Slovan Bratislava, a team he spent many years playing for following his NHL career.


The 1990 Conn Smyth Trophy winner was the backbone for the final championship in Edmonton's dynasty run. His .912 post-season save percentage that spring led the Oilers to the 16 wins necessary to capture the Stanley Cup, his 2nd as an Oiler ('88 as Fuhr's backup). After leaving Edmonton following the 95/96 season, Ranford would go on to play for 3 teams over 4 seasons before returning to Edmonton for his final year in 99/00. Since then, Ranford has been busy with everything from acting to coaching. In the movie "Miracle", Ranford was used in the on-ice scenes that depicted American netminder Jim Craig. He got his start in coaching with the Vancouver Giants in 2004, where he served as goalie coach, a position he now holds in the NHL with the LA Kings. He is also part owner of the Coquitlam Express in the BCHL and his nephew, Brendan, is the 4th leading scorer in the WHL this season.


The towering defenseman selected by the Oilers in the 1st round in 1983 would go on to win 3 Stanley Cups with the Oilers and another with the Rangers, 7 times registering 150 or more penalty minutes in a season. Beukeboom was forced to retire in 1999 following a series of concussions, the most serious of which was suffered at the hands of a sucker punch by Kings forward Matt Johnson (who earned a 12 game suspension for the deed). Following his recovery from post-concussion syndrome, Beukeboom stayed in the game by joining the Toronto Roadrunners as an assistant coach in 2003 and, today, holds the title of assistant coach with the Sudbury Wolves in the OHL. Jeff's son, Brock, was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.


A 30-goal scorer for the Oilers in 96/97, Kovalenko was a part of one of the biggest trades in NHL history prior to his time in Edmonton. He went, along with Martin Rucinsky and Jocelyn Thibeault, to Montreal in the trade that saw Patrick Roy and Mike Keane go to Colorado. Nicknamed "The Tank", Kovalenko retired from NHL play following the 00/01 season and spent the next 7 years playing for various teams in the Russian Super League. Following his retirement from the game, Kovalenko has taken up the position of Chairman of the KHL Players Association.


Easily the most intriguing players to never play an NHL game, Hand was drafted by the Oilers in the 12th round in 1986. Born in Edinburgh, UK, Hand became the first British born and raised player to be drafted by an NHL team. Playing for the Murrayfield Racers in the BHL, Hand scored 79 goals and 85 assists in 32 games (yeah, that's accurate) and was slated to attend Calgary Flames camp on an invitation basis before the Oilers snagged him late in the draft. After being one of the final cuts at Oilers training camp in 1986, Hand opted to return back to Britain rather than accept an offer to play in the WHL. The following year, Hand was cut again and did decide to accept assignment to the WHL's Victoria Cougars, where he only lasted 3 games before opting to return home once again. He had 4 goals and 4 assists in those 3 WHL games, by the way. The next season, Hand returned again to North America and was offered a spot on the Oilers AHL team in Cape Breton, but again turned it down to return home. He played out his entire career as a player and player/coach in various leagues across the UK until his retirement in 2009. 12 times he scored more than 50 goals, with his career point totals in domesic ice hockey in Britain surpassed 4,000. He is currently the head coach of Manchester Phoenix in the EPHL.
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