TOP 100 OILERS: ADAM GRAVES (40)

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There’s a handful of players on this Top 100 list who made it based on what I saw, on the ice and off it, as opposed to the raw numbers they amassed during their time with the Edmonton Oilers. Adam Graves, who played a key role in Edmonton’s fifth Stanley Cup win in 1990 as a member of the Kid Line, is one of those players.

Graves was one of those throwback guys, a glue guy, during his too-brief tenure with the Oilers. He was that rare mixture of skill, toughness and willingness to do whatever it took to win that doesn’t come along very often. We got just a glimpse of Graves in the 139 regular season and 40 playoff games he spent here before he went on to bigger and better things in Manhattan.

Adam Graves

Left Wing — shoots L

Born Apr 12 1968 — Tecumseh, ONT  

Height 6.00 — Weight 205 [183 cm/93 kg]

Drafted by Detroit Red Wings

Round 2 #22 overall 1986 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

ATOI

1987-88

19

DET

9

0

1

1

-2

8

9

0.0

1988-89

20

DET

56

7

5

12

-5

60

60

11.7

1989-90

21

TOT

76

9

13

22

0

136

94

9.6

1989-90

21

DET

13

0

1

1

-5

13

10

0.0

1989-90

21

EDM

63

9

12

21

5

123

84

10.7

1990-91

22

EDM

76

7

18

25

-21

127

126

5.6

1991-92

23

NYR

80

26

33

59

19

139

228

11.4

1992-93

24

NYR

84

36

29

65

-4

148

275

13.1

1993-94

25

NYR

84

52

27

79

27

127

291

17.9

1994-95

26

NYR

47

17

14

31

9

51

185

9.2

1995-96

27

NYR

82

22

36

58

18

100

266

8.3

1996-97

28

NYR

82

33

28

61

10

66

269

12.3

1997-98

29

NYR

72

23

12

35

-30

41

226

10.2

1998-99

30

NYR

82

38

15

53

-12

47

239

15.9

1685

20:33

1999-00

31

NYR

77

23

17

40

-15

14

194

11.9

1445

18:46

2000-01

32

NYR

82

10

16

26

-16

77

136

7.4

1290

15:44

2001-02

33

SJS

81

17

14

31

11

51

139

12.2

1279

15:47

2002-03

34

SJS

82

9

9

18

-14

32

118

7.6

1070

13:03

10 yrs

NYR

772

280

227

507

6

810

2309

12.1

4420

18:20

3 yrs

DET

78

7

7

14

-12

81

79

8.9

2 yrs

EDM

139

16

30

46

-16

250

210

7.6

2 yrs

SJS

163

26

23

49

-3

83

257

10.1

2349

14:25

Career

1152

329

287

616

-25

1224

2855

11.5

6768

16:45

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

1988-89

20

DET

5

0

0

0

-1

4

6

0.0

1989-90

21

EDM

22

5

6

11

1

17

46

10.9

1990-91

22

EDM

18

2

4

6

7

22

48

4.2

1991-92

23

NYR

10

5

3

8

-6

22

33

15.2

1993-94

25

NYR

23

10

7

17

12

24

93

10.8

1994-95

26

NYR

10

4

4

8

-13

8

38

10.5

1995-96

27

NYR

10

7

1

8

-9

4

43

16.3

1996-97

28

NYR

15

2

1

3

1

12

39

5.1

2001-02

33

SJS

12

3

1

4

-2

6

15

20.0

Career

125

38

27

65

-10

119

361

10.5

NOTABLE

Graves hadn’t yet blossomed into the talent he became during the 772 games he’d go on to play with the New York Rangers — he had his jersey No. 9 retired in New York and in a book about the top 100 Ranger greats of all-time he was named No. 13 – but we got some glimpses of what he’d become, especially during that 1990 Cup run alongside Joe Murphy and Martin Gelinas.

Graves arrived in Edmonton to much fanfare, acquired from the Detroit Red Wings along with Petr Klima, Murphy and Jeff Sharples in a trade that sent discontent Jimmy Carson, Kevin McClelland and a fifth-round draft pick to the Motor City. GM Glen Sather wasn’t wearing a balaclava when he orchestrated the deal, but he should have as Graves, Klima and Murphy all played significant roles in that 1990 Cup win.

Coming off a regular season in which he had just 21 points in 63 games with the Oilers, Graves had 11 points in 22 playoff games, including a game-winning goal against Los Angeles in the second round. Murphy had 14 points and Gelinas five points as the trio provided much-needed depth of scoring behind Mark Messier, Craig Simpson, Jari Kurri, Esa Tikkanen and Glenn Anderson.

THE STORY

Simply put, Graves thrived outside the spotlight in Edmonton in a support role to Messier, Kurri and Simpson as Edmonton’s 1980s Dynasty Days wound down before taking over centre stage when he later landed in New York. “It was such an excellent team atmosphere,” Graves said. “We were together as any group of guys in the league.

“Everyone felt that they were a part of the team. No one felt left out. Because of that, even if you had a small role on the team, you were happy. You were glad to be able to give whatever little you could to the team. You did everything you could. I have many wonderful memories in my two years with the Oilers. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the team.”

Had Graves not left the fading Oilers for New York as a free agent in September of 1991 and spent another three seasons here – he scored 26, 36 and 52 goals in that span — he’d likely be a top-20 guy on this list. Graves was hard-nosed, talented and he always put team first in the room and on the ice. What a beauty Gravy was.

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.

PREVIOUSLY:

  • tkfisher

    I’m a big fan of Graves. But looking back now, he really wasn’t an Oiler long. Too bad the organization had no money back then.

    The guy only scored 16 total goals in Oilers silks, which is insane to think about.

  • whateverhappenedtoearledwards

    When graves signed with the NYR an arbitrator gave the Oil Troy Mallette in return. Probably the most lop sided arbitration ward ever.

    • camdog

      It was one thing to not be able to afford the All stars, it was another to not be able to afford to keep an up and coming young player due to salary. Those were some very dark days for Oiler fans.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    My dad took me to games when it was still Northlands. By 2nd intermission he’d give me $5 to go buy some cards and one time he was flipping through them. This was 1994 and he came across an Adam Graves card and he just shook his head. He sees Graves scored 26 goals and then 36 and that year he was on pace for over 50. He just aghast the Oilers could’ve let a guy like him slide past for next to nothing.

    Often wondered sometimes how much money playing up the “we are a small market team” cost the Oilers back then. Imagine if they found the $20 it would’ve taken to keep Graves. What does that production do for this team? How many playoff games does that net you?