NHL - PACIFIC
Arena: Rogers Place
Coach: Jay Woodcroft
2022-2023 TEAM LEADERS
The Edmonton Oilers are an NHL team playing in the Pacific Division based out of Edmonton, Alberta. The Oilers began as a member of the WHA in 1972, joining the NHL after the leagues merged together in 1979. The following decade saw the Oilers establish themselves into NHL legend thanks to Wayne Gretzky, widely considered the best athletes to ever play hockey and one of the greatest athletes across any sport. Gretzky holds nearly every record for scoring in the entire league, with Alex Ovechkin being the only current player within striking distance of Gretzky’s goal record.
Edmonton has struggled to return to their dominant play of the 80s despite drafting both Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, two of the best forwards in the NHL who have both consistently placed themselves at the top of the league in scoring over the last five years. The team has only made the playoffs twice since drafting McDavid, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in the qualifying round of the 2020 playoffs and blowing a massive lead in game seven against the Ducks in 2015.
The Oilers were one of 12 original WHA teams in 1972, becoming an official NHL franchise after the leagues merged in 1979. Edmonton had moderate success in its founding years in the WHA, but the team was forever changed after signing Wayne Gretzky in their final year before the NHL merger- Gretzky was originally too young to qualify for the NHL draft, but was allowed to stay with the team due to his previous experience.
Gretzky completely broke the league, scoring 50 goals in his first NHL season and following it up with point totals of 164, 212, 196, and 205 in his first five years. The Oilers would win their first Stanley Cup in 1984, winning five total championships between 1984 and 1990. Gretzky departed the team to join the Los Angeles Kings in 1988, marking the beginning of the Oilers’ decline with their first playoff miss in 1993.
Edmonton would go on a Cinderella run to the finals again in 2006, but would mostly struggle with sustained success. The Oilers would find themselves eliminated by the Dallas Stars for four years straight between 1998 and 2001, followed up by a long 10 year postseason drought from 2007-2016. The team struggled from a management perspective, particularly with infamous GM Peter Chiarelli and his baffling trades. It looked like the team had turned a new leaf after winning the draft lottery with superstar Connor McDavid in 2015, but after blowing a 3-0 lead in game five against the Anaheim Ducks and losing the series in seven games, the Oilers returned to mediocrity, most recently losing 4-0 in the first round to the Winnipeg Jets in the 2021 playoffs.
2022 Key Stats
It looked like the team might have been taking the next step at the beginning of the 2021-2022 season as one of the top teams of the Pacific Division, but have since regressed significantly. Edmonton now sits at fifth in the division with a record of 23-16-9, going 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. While the record seems like it isn’t that bad, the Oilers went on a seven-game losing streak to start the new year, plummeting down the standings in the process. The team has recently signed free agent Evander Kane following some off-ice controversy involving his contract termination with the San Jose Sharks, but have won five of their last six contests. Edmonton is definitely a team to keep your eye on as the season continues, and could easily go either way in the standings.
No surprises here, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl lead the way in scoring. Draisaitl has 32 points and 31 assists, enough for a staggering 63 points in just 42 games. If that wasn’t impressive enough, McDavid is close behind with 60 points in 41 games. The two are an absolutely electric duo on the ice with speed and creativity anytime they touch the puck and are well worth tuning in to watch.
Depth scoring has been and continues to be a bit of a problem for the Oilers, however, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been excellent this year with 33 points in 35 games, but the dropoff is significant after him on the scoresheet. Hyman started the season off strong but has cooled off, finding himself with 26 points in 36 games. Tyson Barrie has struggled with injury but has had a significant down year on the ice with 17 points in 36 games (despite Edmonton’s powerplay ranking as one of the best in the league all year long).
Mikko Koskinen has had some struggles in net, but with Edmonton’s questionable defensive core it’s hard to blame him. Koskinen currently has a record of 16-8-2 with an SV% of .900.
Championships Won by the Team
Edmonton is well known for their dynasty of the 80s thanks to Wayne Gretzky. The team made their first final in 1983, running into the final year of the Islanders’ dynasty of five straight cup wins. Edmonton would return to face New York again the following year, stealing the crown as the top team in the league with their first Stanley Cup with a 4-1 series victory.
Edmonton would win again the following year, this time defeating the Flyers in a 4-1 series. The Oilers absolutely dominated their opponents during their 1985 run, losing only three games during the stretch. The dream of tying the Islanders’ five straight cup wins was uprooted the following year after a seven-game series loss to their provincial rival, the Calgary Flames, in the second round. Luckily, the team would win two straight cups again in 1987 and 1988, defeating the Flyers and Bruins to bring their title count to four.
The team would find themselves in an odd situation after being eliminated by Wayne Gretzky and the LA Kings in his first year with a new team in 1989, but would return to the cup the following year with a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins, sweeping Gretzky’s Kings in the second round in the process. The team would be upset by the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota North Stars in the Conference Finals in the following two years, marking the end of the Oilers’ Dynasty. Still, winning five cups over seven years is an extremely impressive feat few teams have been able to replicate across all sports.
Important Team Events
The Oilers share a special rivalry with the Calgary Flames, sharing the Canadian province in the infamous Battle of Alberta. The teams have a storied rivalry dating back to the 1980s, as both teams were the clear powerhouses of the Campbell Conference, with one of either the Flames or Oilers appearing in the finals for eight straight years between 1983 and 1990, resulting in some serious bad blood between the two teams in every matchup.
While the rivalry began to stagnate due to both teams struggling to establish themselves as contenders after the 90s, the spark was lit once again in 2018. The Flames had drafted power forward Matthew Tkachuk, who made a living making big hits and frustrating the other team with his play- remember this name. The two teams were already at each other’s throats early in the 2018 season after Flames forward Sam Bennett and Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse exchanged hits and a few punches, causing tensions to rise significantly.
The bubble burst after Tkachuk landed on top of Connor McDavid in a scrum- Oilers forward Zach Kassian tried to fight Tkachuk for his hit on the Oilers’ superstar, but the Flames power forward notably refused to fight as a full-on scrum broke out. The Battle of Alberta became must-watch hockey any time the teams met up the rest of the year with full line brawls breaking out and even a goalie fight between Cam Talbot and Mike Smith during the 2020 season. Though the two teams haven’t met in the playoffs since the 90s, the reignition of this rivalry has a playoff atmosphere in every matchup and is a must-watch moving forward.
Wayne Gretzky is the unmatched best player of all time to wear an Oilers uniform, playing with the team from 1979-1988. During his time in Edmonton, Gretzky set the franchise records to nearly unattainable records with 583 goals, 1086 assists, and 1669 total points. Gretzky had incredible hands, speed, and playmaking vision for his time, able to turn defenses and goalies inside out in a matter of seconds. Including his records seems unfair with the amount of points he was able to score, and will likely never be toppled in the modern NHL as the franchise (and league) leader in points.
The Oilers have had an absurd amount of talent on the team outside of Gretzky, including players such as Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, and Paul Coffey. While these names are forever memorialized in the Hockey Hall of Fame, the team currently has two franchise players in Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. Both players are incredibly skilled and will likely set several records of their own- McDavid has already racked up 634 points in 448 games played, while Draisaitl has 569 points in 520 games.
The Oilers have had a total of 16 coaches since joining the NHL in 1979, currently headed by Dave Tippet. Tippet took over after the dismissal of Ken Hitchcock in 2019, leading the team for 71 games with an overall record of 37-25-9.
Two names stick out when discussing the greatest head coaches in the history of the Oilers, the first being Glen Sather. Sather led the team from its inception in 1979 through 1989, coaching a total of 782 games with a record of 442-241-99. Obviously, those numbers alone are pretty good. However, the most impressive part of Sather’s coaching was his postseason record during the dynasty of the 1980s, finishing his tenure in Edmonton with a playoff win percentage of .724.
The other big name in Oilers coaching is Craig MacTavish, coaching 656 games between 2000-2009. Though the team wasn’t particularly successful in this time frame, MacTavish was able to bring an underdog Oilers team to the finals in 2006, ultimately losing to the Carolina Hurricanes. Still, MacTavish was overall a successful coach with a record of 301-252-47-56.
Edmonton Oilers Frequently Asked Questions
The Oilers joined the league in 1979 following the NHL’s merger with the WHA.
Wayne Gretzky is one of, if not the greatest player of all time in the history of the NHL
The Oilers have won five Stanley Cups in franchise history.
The Oilers won back in 2017 with a 4-2 series win over the San Jose Sharks. Beyond that, the Oilers have only made the playoffs three times in the last 15 years, most recently losing to the jets in a 4-0 sweep in 2021.
The Oilers and the Calgary Flames share the Canadian province of Alberta, and share a fierce rivalry with another that has been reignited as of late.