Not only did the Edmonton Oilers join the league, but three other former World Hockey Association teams did as well.
The Oilers, along with the New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets all merged from the WHA to the NHL, paying a $6 million fee.
While that all happened, two other WHA teams – the Birmingham Bulls and Cincinnati Stingers – dissolved at the end of the leagues 1978-1979 season.
The new teams were allowed to protect two skaters and two goaltenders with the remaining skaters being made available to the other 17 existing NHL teams. The NHL clubs had the opportunity to claim any WHA player whose rights they held.
As a part of the integration of the four new clubs, an expansion draft was held and each of the 17 NHL teams had the ability to protect 15 skaters and two goaltenders.
The Oilers and Whalers saw early success in the league as they both made the playoffs in their inaugural NHL season. The Oilers won the franchises first division title in 1982 and their first Stanley Cup in 1984.
The 1980’s were great for the Oilers. Between 1983 and 1990, the club won six conference championships, six division championships, five Stanley Cups and two presidents trophies.
Led by Wayne Gretzky and co., the Oilers were an unstoppable force and put together one of the most successful era’s in the leagues history.
The organization has been faced with many highs, and many lows in the past 38 years.
After the glory days ended, the Oilers saw a decline in success. In the early ninties, they lost some of the remaining players from the glory days. Grant Fuhr and Glenn Anderson were traded to Toronto, Steve Smith went to Chicag, Jari Kurri was traded to Philadelphia and most notably, Mark Messier was traded to the New York Rangers a day after the 1991-1992 season began.
The loss of the glory day players highlighted how the Oilers had done a poor job of drafting during the dynasty days and the young players the Oilers had were developed enough to play the roles they needed to.
Doug Weight and Jason Arnott began to take over the reigns in E-Town, helping the Oilers return to the playoffs in the late ninties and early 2000’s. Despite that, the Oilers were never able to get to a conference final.
Following the lockout of the 2004-2005 season, the Oilers made their storied Stanley Cup run and that team was the first to make the finals as an eighth-seed.
A run that was hard to forget, the Edmonton Oilers rolled through the playoffs taking out the Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks before a matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Despite taking them to seven games, the Oilers fell to the cross-continent team.
An injury to star goaltender Dwayne Roloson didn’t help.
Following the loss, the Oilers went on the longest playoff-less streak in NHL history.
10 years without playoffs came to ahead this season, as the organization finally has returned to the promised land.
Connor McDavid and Cam Talbot have helped lead the charge, and who knows what kind of magic the Oilers can make happen in this years playoffs.
Despite the highs and lows, the Oilers are still considered to be one of the most historic franchises in the leagues history. With that being largely in part to the teams early success, the organization is looking to restore the days of glories past.
The aformentioned McDavid and Talbot are joined by players like Leon Draisatil, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson and Darnell Nurse who all will hopefully restore long-term success to Edmonton.