Photo credit:Edmonton Oilers
40 years ago, Edmonton Oilers acquire Kevin McClelland
2 months ago
Forty years ago yesterday, Kevin McClelland won the luck of the draw by being traded to the Edmonton Oilers in a deal that moved forward Tom Roulston to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1983.
Along with their sixth-round pick in the 1984 NHL draft (Emanuel Viveiros), McClelland was the much more exciting half of the deal. “Mac” was a guy the Oilers were never interested in for the reason of putting points on the board; if he did, it was just a bonus. This guy was tough to play against, and loved to drop the mitts, and that’s exactly what the team wanted. Unsurprisingly, his idol was Bobby Clarke of the notorious Broad Street Bullies, one of the most aggressive guys to play against in the NHL.
The six-foot-two, 200-pound forward played 428 games over the next six years he’d spend with the Oilers. He managed 56 goals and 94 assists in his career but an whopping amount of time spent in the sin-bin at 1289 minutes — an average of 3 minutes per game — but as we all know that’s some days less, and some days more.
An article by Cam Cole of the Edmonton Journal at the time of the trade quoted Barry Fraser, Chief Oilers player personnel, saying the Oilers were in need of an enforcer like McClelland.
“Barry Fraser figures McClelland, who sat out half last season with a shoulder injury and was being used at right wing before being sent down, could step into a tailor-made situation here.
“We’ve been looking for a big, aggressive center, and there’s not that many available in the league,” said Fraser. “They needed guys who could put points on the board. I think it will be easier for Kevin to do the things he does best here.”
After acquiring a guy with almost no offensive skills, the Oilers had their eyes set on a Stanley Cup Championship the following year in 1984. McClelland, the Oilers’ own personal on-ice bodyguard, would play a key role in making their opponents fearful, and wouldn’t be afraid to back down to a fight if anyone looked at him the wrong way.
“Mac” would score arguably one of the biggest goals in franchise history during game one of the 1984 Stanley Cup final against the defending champions, the New York Islanders, allowing the team to steal game one with a score of 1-0.
McClelland made a name for himself in Edmonton and won the cup with the Oilers in 1984 and continued with the team into the dynasty days, winning three more Stanley Cups before eventually being traded to the Detroit Red Wings in November of 1989. The Oilers shipped him, a 5th-round pick in 1991 (later traded to Montreal) and Jimmy Carson for Adam Graves, Petr Klima, Joe Murphy and Jeff Sharples.
Roulston, who the Oilers originally acquired in a 1979 deal, played for the team for four years before making his move after getting far too comfortable finding himself on the fourth line, leading to diminishing ice time. Fortunately, Pittsburgh saw a better fit and believed they could create more opportunities for him. The forward played 136 games, totaling 36 goals and 32 assists, before his dismissal to the Penguins, where he continued to play until 1986. Unfortunately, in terms of proposed opportunities with the Penguins, the exciting talk of him becoming a potential 30-goal scorer was quickly shut down as the forward only played 58 games, managing 11 goals and 17 assists.
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