In between being bought by Peter Pocklington in November of 1978 and being sold by Pocklington in August of 1988, Wayne Gretzky not only became the greatest player ever to lace his skates with the Edmonton Oilers, making him an absolute no-brainer atop this Top 100 Oilers list, No. 99 was well on his way to claiming his place as the greatest player the NHL has ever seen. If there’s any compelling argument about that, I haven’t heard it yet. Have you?
Gretzky was a rake-thin 17-year-old when he arrived in Edmonton on a private jet from the Indianapolis Racers during the final season of the WHA, purchased by Pocklington from Indy owner Nelson Skalbania along with Ed Mio and Peter Driscoll for $825,000. By the time Pocklington sold him to the Los Angeles Kings for $15 million a decade later, Gretzky had won four Stanley Cups with the Oilers and re-written the franchise and NHL record books in big, bold letters. The Great One was the greatest in the game then and, in my mind, he remains so today.

Wayne Gretzky

Center
Born Jan 26 1961 — Brantford, ONT
Height 6.00 — Weight 185 [183 cm/84 kg]

BY THE NUMBERS

Season
Age
Tm
GP
G
A
PTS
+/-
PIM
SH
S
S%
1979-80
19
79
51
86
137
15
21
1
284
18.0
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1980-81
20
80
55
109
164
41
28
3
261
21.1
1981-82
21
80
92
120
212
81
26
2
369
24.9
1982-83
22
80
71
125
196
60
59
4
348
20.4
1983-84
23
74
87
118
205
76
39
11
324
26.9
1984-85
24
80
73
135
208
98
52
7
358
20.4
1985-86
25
80
52
163
215
71
46
15
350
14.9
1986-87
26
79
62
121
183
70
28
6
288
21.5
1987-88
27
64
40
109
149
39
24
4
211
19.0
1988-89
28
78
54
114
168
15
26
10
303
17.8
1989-90
29
73
40
102
142
8
42
2
236
16.9
1990-91
30
78
41
122
163
30
16
1
212
19.3
1991-92
31
74
31
90
121
-12
34
2
215
14.4
1992-93
32
45
16
49
65
6
6
1
141
11.3
1993-94
33
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81
38
92
130
-25
20
3
233
16.3
1994-95
34
48
11
37
48
-20
6
3
142
7.7
1995-96
35
TOT
80
23
79
102
-13
34
0
195
11.8
1995-96
35
62
15
66
81
-7
32
0
144
10.4
1995-96
35
18
8
13
21
-6
2
0
51
15.7
1996-97
36
82
25
72
97
12
28
1
286
8.7
1997-98
37
82
23
67
90
-11
28
0
201
11.4
1998-99
38
70
9
53
62
-23
14
0
132
6.8
9 yrs
EDM
696
583
1086
1669
551
323
53
2793
20.9
8 yrs
LAK
539
246
672
918
-5
182
22
1626
15.1
3 yrs
NYR
234
57
192
249
-22
70
1
619
9.2
1 yr
STL
18
8
13
21
-6
2
0
51
15.7
1 yr
EDO
72
43
61
104
23
19
253
17.0
1 yr
INR
8
3
3
6
-3
0
17
17.6
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Career
1487
894
1963
2857
518
577
76
5089
17.6
Career
80
46
64
110
20
19
270
17.0

PLAYOFFS

Season
Age
Tm
GP
G
A
PTS
+/-
PIM
S
S%
1979-80
19
3
2
1
3
-3
0
8
25.0
1980-81
20
9
7
14
21
10
4
39
17.9
1981-82
21
5
5
7
12
-1
8
27
18.5
1982-83
22
16
12
26
38
20
4
76
15.8
1983-84
23
19
13
22
35
18
12
86
15.1
1984-85
24
18
17
30
47
28
4
67
25.4
1985-86
25
10
8
11
19
0
2
42
19.0
1986-87
26
21
5
29
34
10
6
55
9.1
1987-88
27
19
12
31
43
9
16
62
19.4
1988-89
28
11
5
17
22
-4
0
42
11.9
1989-90
29
7
3
7
10
-4
0
13
23.1
1990-91
30
12
4
11
15
0
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2
26
15.4
1991-92
31
6
2
5
7
-3
2
11
18.2
1992-93
32
24
15
25
40
6
4
76
19.7
1995-96
35
13
2
14
16
2
0
25
8.0
1996-97
36
15
10
10
20
5
2
44
22.7
Career
208
122
260
382
93
66
699
17.5

AWARDS

  • 1979-80 Hart Memorial Trophy, Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
  • 1980-81 Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy
  • 1981-82 Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award
  • 1982-83 Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award
  • 1983-84 Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award
  • 1984-85 Art Ross Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award
  • 1985-86 Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy
  • 1986-87 Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award
  • 1987-88 Conn Smythe Trophy
  • 1988-89 Hart Memorial Trophy
  • 1989-90 Art Ross Trophy
  • 1990-91 Art Ross Trophy
  • 1990-91 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
  • 1991-92 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
  • 1993-94 Art Ross Trophy
  • 1993-94 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
  • 1998-99 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

NOTABLE

It’s impossible to begin to chronicle Gretzky’s time in Edmonton or even list the highlights and unforgettable moments in one item like this because you could write a book about that – something that has been done a half-dozen times. What’s your most vivid memory? Is it his sensational rookie season, when Gretzky not only lived up to great expectations but exceeded them (only to be jobbed out of the Calder Trophy)? Is it the night he scored five goals to reach 50 goals in 39 games? That first Stanley Cup in 1984? Is it the day, Aug. 9, 1988, when fans reeled in anger and disbelief at the announcement Gretzky had been sold to the Kings? “I promised Mess I wouldn’t do this.” Mercy, that 99 Tears day is burned into a lot of brains.
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Gretzky’s NHL tenure here, before stops in Los Angeles, St. Louis and New York, saw him score 583 goals and 1,086 assists for 1,669 points in 696 regular season games. Gretzky won seven consecutive scoring titles with the Oilers, usually by ridiculous margins. He won the Hart Memorial Trophy as MVP eight consecutive seasons here. By the time Gretzky retired in 1999 with 894-1,963-2,857 in 1,487 regular season games, he held or shared 61 NHL records – 40 in regular season, 15 in playoffs, six in all-star games. To this day, he’d lead NHL career scoring with his 1,963 assists alone (Jaromir Jagr is second with 1,914 career points).
Simply put, from the moment Gretzky arrived at Edmonton Municipal Airport on that private jet looking like something of an unlikely hero, he energized this city. He brought instant credibility to the Oilers, one of four teams to join the NHL for the 1979-80 season. Gretzky was something very special right from the get-go. “It took one practice and one game,” Glen Sather said when asked how long it took him to realize the skinny kid from Brantford would be a game-changer. “I watched him in the morning at the practice and I watched him play that night, and I was convinced that this guy was going to be an incredible player.”
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THE STORY

On a rising young team that would go on to be known as The Boys on the Bus during the run to those first four Cups, Gretzky sat atop a marquee that included Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Grant Fuhr and Paul Coffey. Gretzky’s on-ice vision, his ability to go where the puck was going to be instead of where it had been and a sometimes under-appreciated burning desire to excel made him the best of a rather magnificent bunch. Simply put, Gretzky had no equal during his playing days in Edmonton – not in his own dressing room or in any other.
While it’s difficult to compare one era to another because of significant changes in scoring rates from the days when the Oilers regularly scored 400 goals a season to now, Gretzky was in a class of his own, even allowing for the inflated scoring totals of the day. For context, the scoring margins Gretzky had in points over the runner-up for the Art Ross Trophy during his time with the Oilers were 29, 65, 72, 79, 73, 74 and 75. As terrific as Connor McDavid has been, becoming the first Oiler to win the Art Ross Trophy (100 points) since No. 99 did it in 1986-87, will McDavid ever win a scoring title by the same margin, even adjusted?
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With the Gretzky statue having been moved from the old rink where he set the NHL on its ear in the 1980s to Rogers Place, and Gretzky himself back in Edmonton as a vice-chairman in the OEG with McDavid being heralded as the centrepiece to what fans hope will be a return to Stanley Cup contention, there’s something of a full-circle vibe going on in the minds of many. With the 2017-18 season on the horizon, there are better days ahead to be sure. The best days, of course, began with Gretzky’s arrival in Edmonton back in 1978. The Great One, his No. 99 retired by the NHL, is the greatest of them all and, it follows, No. 1 on the Top 100 Oilers list. No contest.
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.
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