Puckdoku is the trivia game sweeping the hockey world. It’s the NHL equivalent of the “Immaculate Grid,“ a three-by-three fill-in-the-blank puzzle which originated as an MLB game but quickly spawned variants for all kinds of other sports leagues.
The concept is simple: for each square, try to think of a player who fits into the criteria established by both the corresponding X- and Y-axis labels. For example, Ray Bourque would fit perfectly into a Boston Bruins/Colorado Avalanche square. Patrick Roy would do just fine for Colorado/Montreal. You get the idea.
Of course, it goes a little deeper than that. Sometimes, instead of teams, Puckdoku uses statistical thresholds (“200+ goals”) or career achievements (“Olympic gold medalist”) as categories. Also, if you want to use a Minnesota North Stars player for the Dallas Stars or an original Winnipeg Jets player for the Arizona Coyotes, you can.
Naturally, some players are more useful for Puckdoku than others. Someone like Maurice Richard, who spent his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens, is pretty much useless for the game unless a Habs label happens to intersect with the right statistical category.
On the flip side, players who spent time with several NHL teams are among the most valuable for Puckdoku purposes. And the more obscure the player, the lower (and better) your “uniqueness” score will be. Both Jarome Iginla and Blake Comeau are valid answers for Calgary/Pittsburgh, but one is a little less well-known than the other.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to spend some time here at Daily Faceoff highlighting three players connected with each NHL franchise who are particularly useful in games of Puckdoku. We’ll press onward today with the Edmonton Oilers.
Teams: New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes, Anaheim Ducks, New York Islanders
All three players on this list played for the New York Rangers immediately before arriving in Edmonton. Weight had the most impressive career of the three, racking up more than 1,000 points and representing the United States at three Winter Olympics. He topped out with 104 points in 82 games with the Oilers during the 1995–96 season.
After being selected No. 34 overall by the Rangers in the 1990 NHL Draft, Weight spent parts of three seasons with the team before being flipped to the Oilers at the 1993 trade deadline in exchange for Esa Tikkanen. Although Tikkanen went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994, Weight came to embody the workmanlike attitude of the underdog Oilers in the mid-to-late 1990s and served as team captain from 1998 and 2001.
One of the most skilled playmakers of his era, Weight reached or surpassed the 50-assist threshold five times during his tenure with the Oilers and repeated that feat twice more after being traded to the St. Louis Blues in 2001. Weight spent parts of six seasons with the Blues between 2001 and 2007, rejoining the club as a free agent in 2006 after being sent to the Carolina Hurricanes at the previous trade deadline.
Weight racked up 16 points in 23 games in the 2006 playoffs as the Hurricanes embarked upon a run to the Stanley Cup Final, where they faced off against none other than the Oilers. Although Weight suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Game 5 of the series, he still ended up lifting the Cup as the Hurricanes defeated the Oilers in seven games.
After being sent by the Blues to the Anaheim Ducks at the 2008 trade deadline, Weight finished his career with three seasons as a member of the New York Islanders before retiring in 2011. In total, Weight managed 278 goals and 1,033 points in 1,238 career NHL games. He also won a silver medal with Team USA at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Teams: Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres
Benoit Pouliot never quite lived up to his billing as the No. 4 overall pick of the 2005 NHL Draft, but he enjoyed a few productive seasons as a journeyman middle-six winger.
Pouliot collected just nine goals and 18 points in 65 games over parts of four seasons with the Wild to begin his NHL career before being traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Guillaume Latendresse in 2009. Immediately after arriving in Montreal, Pouliot ran hot with 15 goals and 24 points in 39 games to conclude the 2009–10 season. But he failed to match that goal total over 79 games in 2010–11 and ended up playing for four teams in four years before finally signing a five-year contract with the Oilers in 2014.
By the time Pouliot put pen to paper with Edmonton, he had cemented his reputation as a reliable, big-bodied 30-point winger. He’d managed 15 goals and 36 points in 80 games with the New York Rangers in the 2013–14 season and added 10 more points in 25 playoff games as the Rangers made it all the way to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. But with the Oilers set to embark upon a blatant tank job strategic bottoming-out process in pursuit of top draft prospect Connor McDavid, Pouliot was thrust into a cushy top-six role in his first season with the team and set a career-best mark with 19 goals in just 58 games.
After a strong second season with the Oilers, Pouliot saw his numbers plummet in 2016–17 as the Oilers — now led by McDavid — gunned for their first postseason berth in a full decade. The 30-year-old Pouliot managed just 14 points in 67 games during the regular season before being held scoreless in 13 playoff contests. The Oilers bought out the final two year’s of Pouliot’s contract during the 2017 offseason and he spent the following year with the Buffalo Sabres before retiring from the NHL in 2018. In 625 career games with six different teams, Pouliot notched 130 goals and 263 points.
Teams: New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild, Ottawa Senators
Talbot, like Pouliot, was a member of the playoff-bound 2016–17 Oilers, although he played a much bigger part in that team’s success. The 6-foot-4 goaltender had established himself as a legit starter with the previous year’s Oilers and built upon that performance by going 44–22–8 in a staggering 73 games and posting a .919 save percentage in the 2016–17 season. In the Oilers’ subsequent playoff run, Talbot went 7–6 with a .924 save percentage in 13 starts. Talbot finished fourth in Vezina Trophy voting and third in All-Star Team balloting in recognition of his efforts that year.
After going undrafted, Talbot eventually signed an entry-level contract with the New York Rangers in 2010 after spending parts of three seasons at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. He finally made his NHL debut with the Rangers in 2013 and ended up appearing in 57 games with the club over the 2013–14 and 2014–15 seasons, going 33–15–5 with a sparkling .931 save percentage. The Rangers ended up selling high on Talbot, flipping him to the Oilers at the 2015 NHL Draft in exchange for picks in the second and third rounds; the same day, New York acquired Antti Raanta from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for minor-league forward Ryan Haggerty. Raanta ended up fitting seamlessly into Talbot’s old role as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup.
Talbot spent parts of four seasons in Edmonton but struggled to rediscover his 2016–17 form in the second half of his tenure before being sent to the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2019 trade deadline. The following summer, Talbot signed a one-year deal with the Calgary Flames on the same day that Mike Smith, previously of the Flames, agreed to terms with the Oilers. Talbot outperformed Smith in the 2019–20 season and the two ended up coming to blows in the final Battle of Alberta game before the COVID-19 pandemic.
A free agent again in 2020, Talbot parlayed his strong performance as a Flame into a three-year deal with the Minnesota Wild. He helped the Wild reach the playoffs in back-to-back seasons before being traded to the Ottawa Senators in 2022; then, after an inconsistent season in Canada’s capital, Talbot signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings this past July. Now 36, Talbot’s best days are behind him, but he might be able to rebound on a solid defensive team in SoCal.