Wayne Gretzky played in 1,695 NHL games – 1,487 in the regular season and 208 in the Stanley Cup playoffs – for four different teams over 20 seasons.
Over those two decades, which were Gretzky’s best teams?
5. Edmonton Oilers – 1985-86
One of the best regular-season teams in NHL history appeared on track for a third straight Stanley Cup. Behind Gretzky’s league-record 215 points and the third-best plus-minus in league history (+100), the Edmonton Oilers averaged more than five goals scored per game and won the Smythe Division by 30 points.
But they were shocked by the Calgary Flames in the Division Finals, scoring just six total goals in their four losses – to 18 in the three wins of the seven-game series.
If this Oilers team won the Cup, it might’ve been regarded as the best team in NHL history.
4. Edmonton Oilers – 1986-87
The Oilers started 14-10-1 before winning 36 of their final 55 games to finish with a league-high 106 points. And they didn’t slow down in the playoffs.
Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, and Glenn Anderson each recorded at least 25 points over a 21-game postseason run that included an eight-game winning streak and only four losses. After losing to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the Smythe Division Semifinals, the Oilers set a playoff record with 13 goals in Game 2 en route to four straight wins, during which they tallied 30 goals.
Statistically, this was Gretzky’s worst season since 1980-81, yet he still led the league in goals, assists, points, and plus-minus while leading the Oilers to their third Stanley Cup Final win in three seasons.
3. Edmonton Oilers – 1987-88
In Gretzky’s ninth NHL season, the Oilers failed to win the division and record at least 100 points for the first time in seven years. It didn’t matter; they blew through the playoffs as five players registered at least 25 points, led by Gretzky, who had 43 in flirting with his playoff record of 47 set three years earlier.
Twelve of their 16 playoff wins came by at least two goals, and none of the four series went beyond five games.
2. Edmonton Oilers – 1983-84
The Oilers’ first Cup and the first Cup by one of the four World Hockey Association (WHA) teams that joined the NHL in 1979 – the Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Hartford Whalers, and Quebec Nordiques – came after Gretzky’s second 200-point regular season in the last two years.
From early October through late January, he had a 51-game point streak, the longest in NHL history. The Oilers went 38-8-5 during that period en route to a 57-win, 119-point regular season that was followed by a 15-4 playoff record.
1. Edmonton Oilers – 1984-85
The run-and-gun Oilers scored 401 goals in 80 regular-season games – 53 more than any other team – and had five players score at least 37 goals, including two 70-goal scorers in Gretzky (73) and Kurri (71).
They started the season 12-0-3, the first of three separate unbeaten streaks of at least eight games. And while a late-season swoon – 6-8-5 over the final six weeks – ultimately prevented them from potentially breaking the previous year’s team point total record (119), Wayne Gretzky’s sixth Oilers team (in the NHL) had arguably the longest stretches of single-season dominance in league history.