TOP 100 OILERS: PAT PRICE (98)

When Pat Price was tearing it up with the Saskatoon Blades as a junior hotshot, those prone to hyperbole were talking about the unquestionably talented blueliner from Nelson B.C. as the next Bobby Orr and a potential Hockey Hall of Fame candidate. In that regard, he was a total bust.

Drafted first overall by the WHA’s Vancouver Blazers in 1974 and 11th by the New York Islanders in 1975, it turned out Price wasn’t even the next Bobby Baun. Price would, however, eventually end up in the B.C. sports hall of fame after an NHL career spanning 726 games, including 134 with the Edmonton Oilers after being acquired in the 1979 expansion draft.

Pat Price  #26

Defenseman

BIRTHDATE March 24th, 1955
BIRTHPLACE  Nelson, BC, Canada 
DRAFTED NYI / 1975 NHL Amateur Draft
ROUND 1st (11th overall)

BY THE NUMBERS

SEASON TEAM GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG S S%
1975-76 ISLANDERS 4 0 2 2 4 2 0 0 0 4 0.0
1975-76 FORT WORTH TEXANS-CHL 72 6 44 50 119
1976-77 ISLANDERS 71 3 22 25 26 25 2 0 0 82 3.7
1977-78 ISLANDERS 52 2 10 12 25 27 0 0 1 50 4.0
1977-78 ROCHESTER AMERICANS-AHL  5 2 1 3 9
1978-79 ISLANDERS 55 3 11 14 18 50 0 0 0 48 6.2
1979-80 OILERS 75 11 21 32 4 134 2 0 0 95 11.6
1980-81 OILERS 59 8 24 32 -7 193 0 0 0 90 8.9
1980-81 PENGUINS 13 0 10 10 2 33 0 0 0 25 0.0
1981-82 PENGUINS 77 7 31 38 2 322 2 0 0 107 6.5
1982-83 PENGUINS 38 1 11 12 -19 104 0 0 0 57 1.8
1982-83 NORDIQUES 14 1 2 3 -3 28 0 0 0 8 12.5
1983-84 NORDIQUES 72 3 25 28 20 188 0 0 2 59 5.1
1984-85 NORDIQUES 68 1 26 27 17 118 0 0 0 55 1.8
1985-86 NORDIQUES 54 3 13 16 0 82 0 0 0 49 6.1
1986-87 NORDIQUES 47 0 6 6 -7 81 0 0 0 22 0.0
1986-87 FREDERICTON EXPRESS-AHL 7 0 0 0 14
1986-87 RANGERS 13 0 2 2 -8 49 0 0 0 4 0.0
1987-88 NORTH STARS 14 0 2 2 -3 20 0 0 0 10 0.0
1987-88 KALAMAZOO WINGS-IHL 2 1 1 2 15
NHL TOTALS 726 43 218 261 71 1,456 6 0 3 765 5.6

CAREER PLAYOFF STATISTICS

SEASON TEAM GP  A P +/- PIM  PPG  SHG  GWG 
1976-77 ISLANDERS 10 0 1 1 2 0 0 0
1977-78 ISLANDERS 5 0 1 1 2 0 0 0
1978-79 ISLANDERS 7 0 1 1 25 0 0 0
1979-80 OILERS 3 0 0 0 11 0 0 0
1980-81 PENGUINS 5 1 1 2 21 0 0 0
1981-82 PENGUINS 5 0 0 0 28 0 0 0
1982-83 NORDIQUES 4 0 0 0 14 0 0 0
1983-84 NORDIQUES 9 1 0 1 10 0 0 0
1984-85 NORDIQUES 17 0 4 4 51 0 0 0
1985-86 NORDIQUES 3 0 1 1 4 0 0 0
1986-87 RANGERS 6 0 1 1 27 0 0 0
NHL TOTALS  74 2 10  12  195  0 0 0

NOTABLE

When the Blazers threw a contract worth $1.3 million over five years at Price – the most lucrative deal for a rookie at the time — he happily took it, but struggled mightily in Vancouver. Price drew criticism for being lazy and out of shape. He was better known for racing around Vancouver in his new Ferrari, and crashing it, than for anything he accomplished on the ice.

Price jumped to the Islanders in 1975-76 and spent four years trying to live up to the hype that surrounded him turning pro. He never came close. By the time he arrived in Edmonton for the 1979-80 season, Price was 24 and the buzz was gone. The question by the time the Oilers got him prior to their first NHL season was if Price could stick in the NHL at all.

Price would stick, settling in with the Oilers, a collection of unproven draft picks, WHA veterans and marginal NHL cast-offs, starting to take shape as the rugged and serviceable, if unspectacular, blueliner he’d become for the balance of his career.

THE STORY

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Occasionally during his tenure with the Oilers, Price would flash bits of the play-making ability he’d shown as a junior. He managed 32 points in each of this two seasons in Edmonton, managing it in 1980-81 in just 59 games with rookie Paul Coffey as one of his defensive partners before being traded to Pittsburgh for Pat Hughes. Price had 10 more points with the Penguins to give him 42 on the year, his best NHL season offensively.

Price also played with some edge – as he would most of his career. His 134 penalty minutes in 1979-80 was fifth on the Oilers. He led the Oilers with 193 PIMs in 1980-81 before the trade to Pittsburgh.

There’s no question Price never lived up to the ridiculous advance billing that accompanied him when he turned pro, but the parts of two seasons he spent in Edmonton after outright fails in Vancouver and New York set the stage for a pretty decent career. 

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.