Wayne Gretzky trade tree: ‘The Trade’ and the many branches that grew from it

Sporting News

It has been 31 years since the biggest trade in NHL history, when the Oilers, a dynasty throughout the 1980s, did the unthinkable and traded Wayne Gretzky, the best hockey player on the planet and still in the prime of his career, to the Kings for a package of young players, draft picks and a pile of cash.

This is our look back at the trade, the sequence of moves that followed and the results that came from them.

Original trade

On Aug. 9, 1988, the Oilers, just two months removed from lifting the Stanley Cup, sent Gretzky, Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski to the Kings in exchange for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, Los Angeles' first-round draft picks in 1989, 1991 and 1993, as well as $15 million in cash.

In terms of the return, it was a stunning pile of assets for the Oilers (as it should have been for the game's greatest player).

Carson was, at the time, probably the key piece to the trade, as he was the No. 2 overall pick just two years earlier and was one of the game's best young players. His first two years in the NHL were more productive than almost any player in league history at the same point as he had already recorded 92 goals and 186 total points at only 19 years old.

He was coming off a 1987-88 campaign that saw him score 55 goals and record 52 assists, which is still one of the best individual seasons ever for a player under the age of 20. No player under the age of 20 has ever scored more goals in a single season, while only Gretzky and Sidney Crosby recorded more total points in a single season.

Only two players (Crosby with 222 and Dale Hawerchuk with 194) have recorded more total points in the league before turning 20.

Gelinas was 18 years old and had just been drafted by the Kings with the No. 7 overall pick in the draft that summer.

Then there were the three future first-round draft picks.

Now, for a look at what happened to each of those assets following their arrival in Edmonton and how the trade really blossomed out from the original return.

Once you get one or two moves from the original trade, the branches tended to fizzle out without much of a significant return, and going into great detail on all of them would take a tremendous amount of time without much of an interesting result. There were still some fascinating tidbits here, though.

The Jimmy Carson branch

Carson's first season in Edmonton did not disappoint. He picked up right where he left off from his time in Los Angeles and finished with a team-leading 49 goals and 100 total points, just two off the pace set by team leader Jari Kurri (102). Despite Carson's individual success, his time in Edmonton would be short-lived.

#hockey, #professional

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