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On this day in 1979, the Edmonton Oilers draft Hall of Famers Kevin Lowe, Mark Messier, and Glenn Anderson
6 months ago
On this day in 1979, the Edmonton Oilers welcomed their first-ever draft class ahead of their inaugural season, drafting would-be Hall of Famers Kevin Lowe, Mark Messier, and Glenn Anderson.
The year 1979 rolled in like a storm of sorts, from being one of the four World Hockey Association teams to merge with the NHL to the Oilers drafting arguably one of the best draft classes in franchise history.
The draft welcomed 126 eligible players to be drafted throughout six rounds with the four new clubs agreeing to be placed at the bottom of the draft order as the league’s total number of clubs rose to 21. In addition to this agreement, the draft age eligibility was lowered from 20 to 19, which allowed two draft classes to be drafted within the same year.
For the Oilers, this draft would soon become part of the foundation of what fans better know as the dynasty years. The club selected six players in total, three became Hall of Famers and hold a legacy that has loomed over the city even in present years.
An Edmonton Journal article details the Edmonton Oilers’ 1979 draft.
Soon enough, headlines boasted the name Kevin Lowe as he became the team’s first franchise draft pick, chosen 21st overall in the first round. That aforementioned draft age agreement played key, as Lowe was 20 years old at the time of the draft.
Lowe became a man of firsts during his time with the club. He became the first Oiler to score a power play goal after slotting one past Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Tony Esposito on Oct. 10th, 1979; he was the first player in franchise history to serve a five-minute major for fighting and, of course, was a part of the team to win the franchises first ever Stanley Cup.
Lowe hung around until 1992, when he was traded to the New York Rangers, with his legendary teammates departing before him. His return to the Oilers came in 1996, and his decision was nothing short of loyalty and love for the team.
Lowe told the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson that something was pulling him back to the city and stated, “once an Oilers always an Oiler”.
The blueliner retired after 19 years in the NHL, 15 spent in Edmonton, where he scored 79 goals and 383 points over 1037 games in a staple blue and orange sweater. He contributed to the teams who won all five of the Oilers’ Stanley Cups and later served on the bench and within the clubs’ front offices. In 2021 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Oilers retired his number four the year after.
Mark Messier was the second of the legendary Oilers to get drafted that year, becoming a part of history as the 48th overall pick in the third round — a selection that initially belonged to the Minnesota North Stars and came to the team alongside Dave Semenko, who was acquired earlier in the day.
Messier quickly gained his nickname “the moose” as a tribute to his determination, strength, and of course, his size, which all played a generous role in his contributions to five Stanley Cups with the Oilers and one with the Rangers.
The forward went on to play 12 years in the City of Champions and holds the record for most games played in the regular season and post-season combined at 1,992, split between the Oilers, Rangers, and Vancouver Canucks. He scored 392 goals and 1034 points over 851 games with the Oilers.
During his time in the league, Messier must have had to build one heck of a trophy case as he won five awards during his time that included two Hart Trophies (1989-90, 1991-92), two Ted Lindsay awards (1989-90, 1991-92), and one Conn Smythe Trophy (1983-84). The forward was named on the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players list in 2017-18 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.
He became more than valuable to the team as a devoted and determined leader and power forward.
With the 69th overall pick in the fourth round, the Oilers added one more soon-to-be legend by drafting Glenn Anderson.
Anderson was often shadowed by Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, and Messier. Still, he was a great player for the Oilers and immensely contributed to their success during his 12-year tenure with the organization, including five Stanley Cups.
Anderson scored 417 goals and 906 points over 845 games for the Oilers. Anderson was much like a hero that could be useful for important games, especially in the playoffs. His career total playoff points is 214, with 193 of those in Edmonton; his total places him fourth all-time in playoff points behind teammates Gretzky (382), Messier (295), and Kurri (233). The forward still holds the franchise’s all-time record for most regular season game-winning goals at 72.
He left the organization in 1991-92 in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs but found his way back when he was claimed off waivers in 1996. He had a short and sweet 17-game stint with his former team before being claimed off waivers by the St. Louis Blues.
Anderson retired after the 1995-96 season and was inducted in 2008 into the Hall of Fame.
All three players changed the game in Edmonton in their own special ways, and became a part of a legendary roster of players who gave it all during the dynasty years.
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