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NHL All-time teams: Edmonton Oilers

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Edmonton has been home to some of the game's biggest stars over the years. (USATSI)
Edmonton has been home to some of the game's biggest stars over the years. (USATSI)

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Ah, hockey in the summer, where things come to a grinding halt for about two months in between one long season and another. To fill the void we at Eye on Hockey thought it would be fun to make an all-time team for each of the 30 organizations in the NHL today.

The ground rules: The teams will consist of a center, two wings (regardless of which side), two defensemen and a goaltender. A player must have spent at least 200 games with a franchise to be considered. So Bobby Orr won't be on the Blackhawks' roster or Wayne Gretzky for St. Louis.

After joining the NHL in 1979 after the collapse of the World Hockey Association, the Edmonton Oilers didn't take long to form one of the great dynasties in the history of the league. Five Stanley Cups, some of the game's biggest stars and cartoon-like stats give the Oilers one of the richest traditions in hockey, despite their relative youth as an NHL franchise.

Things are a bit different these days as the Oilers are in the midst of a seven-year playoff drought. The team was bad enough to earn the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft three consecutive years.

Brighter days appear on the horizon for the team as the fruits of those three picks -- Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov -- have already made quite an impact on the club. As good as those youngsters are, they probably won't ever catch the remarkable numbers put up by the Oilers of the 1980s and no one should expect them to. We may never see anything like the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s, which is why every player on this list comes from that era.

Center

Wayne Gretzky: There's a reason they call him The Great One. A lot of Gretzky's lore was built in Edmonton over nine NHL seasons and one in the WHA. He came to the Oilers in a cash trade with the Indanapolis Racers, another WHA team that was having trouble paying the bills. It was from there that Gretzky would begin to establish his remarkable career.

When the team joined the NHL, Gretzky was dominant out of the gates. He put up 51 goals and 137 points, earning the Hart Memorial and Art Ross Trophies at 19. He'd go on to win those trophies seven more times in a row. Gretzky claimed the Hart Trophy a record nine total times, all while in Edmonton.

Though his individual accomplishments were many, the greats are remembered by the number of titles they won. In 1983-84, Gretzky and the Oilers won the first of four Stanley Cups the club would take home during Gretzky's tenure in Edmonton. In each of those four titles, Gretzky led the postseason in assists and points. He won the Conn Smythe as playoffs MVP twice. The team immortalized the Great One in bronze with this statue of him holding the Stanley Cup. It still stands guard outside of the Oilers' home arena (Photo via USATSI).

As you're probably aware, Gretzky set quite a few records while with the Oilers. I could list them all, but you probably don't need his case for inclusion on this list spelled out. However, one of the most exciting marks for No. 99 was when he set the record for the league's fastest 50 goals in a single season. Gretzky scored five times against Philadelphia in his 39th game of the 1981-82 season to obliterate the record.

Gretzky, who was eventually traded to the LA Kings in 1988 in one of the most shocking trades in sports history, is the Oilers' all-time leader in goals (583), assists (1086) and points (1,669). His No. 99 is retired throughout hockey and he was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, bypassing the normal waiting period.

Wings

Jari Kurri: Kurri is one of the former Oilers that has his name on the Stanley Cup five times, all from his days in Edmonton. In a lot of ways he was the Robin to Gretzky's Batman, but Kurri also put up 1,043 points in just 754 games with the Oil. In fact, he's the second all-time leading scorer in franchise history.

Kurri may have been the beneficiary of playing with the greatest playmaker the game has ever known, but it really doesn't make his numbers any less ridiculous. He posted five consecutive 100-plus point seasons, including a career best 71-goal, 135 -point campaign in 1984-85. He followed that up with 131 points the next year including a league-leading 68 goals. Here's just one of the many goals he scored at the end of a dazzling Gretzky set up.

Kurri still had to finish all the chances he got, and he finished an awful lot of them. In fact, 22 percent of his shots were goals in an Edmonton uniform. On four of the five Edmonton Stanley Cup teams Kurri was the leading goal scorer for both the team and the playoffs overall.

The Finnish winger was a two-time first-team all-star and a second-teamer three times. His No. 17 is retired by the club and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.

Mark Messier: Though he also played center eventually, Mark Messier was primarily a left wing early on for the Edmonton Oilers, earning all-star selections at the position three times in his career. Though probably best known today as the captain of the 1994 Rangers Stanley Cup Team, Messier's most productive years were spent in Edmonton.

Messier came to the Oilers via the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. By his third NHL season, he was a 50-goal scorer. The next year he topped 100 points, something he would do five times in the Blue and Orange.

Messier was part of all five Stanley Cup teams, captaining the team to its only post-Gretzky title in 1990. That same year, Messier also won the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP.

Back in 1990, the league didn't have an overly glamorous trophy presentation for the conference finals, so here is Messier accepting the Clarence Campbell in what is either a hallway within the bowels of old Chicago Stadium or maybe it was a soup kitchen down the street. Tough to know for sure.

Considered one of the great leaders in the history of the game, Messier is responsible for choosing the recipient of the Mark Messier Leadership Award annually. He is third all-time for the Oilers with 1,034 points. His 642 assists with the club are second only to Gretzky and he ranks third all-time in games played with the team with 851.

Defensemen

Paul Coffey: Quite simply one of the best offensive defensemen ever to play the game, Coffey was dynamic for the Oilers. He averaged better than a point-per-game over his career in Edmonton, with 669 points, which ranks fifth all-time in franchise history.

The sixth overall pick by the Oilers in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, Coffey showed flashes of what was to come in his rookie season. In his second year, he scored 29 goals and posted 89 points. The next year 96 points and then in 1983-84, Coffey scored a staggering 40 goals, put up 86 assists and finished the year with 126 points.

Coffey won the Norris Trophy twice while a member of the Oilers, earning top defenseman honors in 1985 and 1986. In that 1986 season, Coffey topped himself once again, scoring 48 goals, adding 80 assists for a total of 138 points, which were all career highs. Here he is putting up eight of those 138 points in a game against the Detroit Red Wings in one night.

Coffey finished his Oilers career with 209 goals and 460 assists. He was part of four Stanley Cup teams in Edmonton. His No. 7 was retired by the club and Coffey was named a Hockey Hall of Famer in 2004.

Kevin Lowe: This was a tough spot to pick, but Lowe seemed like the most natural fit for this spot as Al Hamilton, the only other defenseman besides Coffey whose number is retired by the team, only played one NHL season with the Oilers. The rest were in the WHA.

The Oilers' all-time leader in games played by far with 1,037 contests under his belt in the Blue and Gold, Lowe is still a big part of the organization as the president of hockey operations.

A first-round pick of the Oilers' in 1979, Lowe spent the first 13 years of his career in Edmonton. After a four-year stint with the New York Rangers, Lowe returned to the club for the last two seasons of his career.

More of a defensive defenseman, Lowe posted 383 points over his career, which is still second most among blueliners in franchise history. He made the NHL All-Star Game six times while in Edmonton and was part of all five Stanley Cup teams. He won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 1990 for leadership and humanitarian contribution.

Goaltender

Grant Fuhr: There are a number of strong goalies in Oilers history, but this spot undoubtedly belongs to Fuhr. Edmonton's pick with the eighth overall choice in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, Fuhr was thrown into the NHL right away and performed well. Each year his responsibilities and playing time grew and his play only got better as time went on.

Over 10 years with the club, Fuhr's numbers aren't eye-popping, but not many goalies from that era have great numbers. The league was a lot different then. What does stand out, however, is the four Stanley Cups Fuhr backstopped the Oilers to.

In 1988, after making 75 appearances and notching a 3.43 goals-against average and .881 save percentage (again, differen era), Fuhr received his first and only Vezina Trophy. He ended his Oilers career with an .882 save percentage and 3.69 goals-against average.

Fuhr, who was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2003, also gets bonus points for having one of the cooler pre-cage goalie masks.

Notable Omissions

Glenn Anderson, Ryan Smyth, Steve Smith, Charlie Huddy, Craig Simpson, Shawn Horcoff, Doug Weight, Ales Hemsky, Bill Ranford, Esa Tikkanen

 
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