A legendary Canadian NHL team with a long history of some of the best hockey players ever, The Edmonton Oilers are a professional ice hockey team based in Edmonton, Alberta. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Oilers were founded on November 1, 1971, by Dr. Charles A. "Chuck" Allard (1919 – 1991) who, a decade later, also acquired the fledgling SCTV television series. The team playing its first season in 1972, as one of the twelve founding franchises of the major professional World Hockey Association (WHA). They were originally intended to be one of two WHA teams in Alberta (the other one being the Calgary Broncos). However, when the Broncos relocated to Cleveland, Ohio, before the WHA's first season began, the Oilers were renamed the Alberta Oilers. They returned to their current name, for the following year and subsequently joined the NHL in 1979 as one of four franchises introduced through the NHL merger with the WHA.
Edmonton is the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, which is surrounded by Alberta's central region. The city anchors the north end of what Statistics Canada defines as the "Calgary–Edmonton Corridor". The city had a population of 932,546 in 2016, making it Alberta's second-largest city and Canada's fifth-largest municipality. Also in 2016, Edmonton had a metropolitan population of 1,321,426, making it the sixth-largest census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada. Edmonton is North America's northernmost metropolitan area with a population over one million. A resident of Edmonton is known as an Edmontonian.
After joining the NHL, the Oilers went on to win the Stanley Cup on five occasions: 1983–84, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1987–88 and 1989–90. Along with the Pittsburgh Penguins, they are tied for the most championships won by any team since the NHL-WHA merger and also the most won by any team that joined the league in or after 1967. Among all NHL teams, only the Montreal Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup more times since the League's 1967 expansion. For their success in the 1980s, the Oilers team of this era has been honoured with dynasty status by the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The Oilers lost most of the players from 1978–79 when the NHL held a reclamation draft of players who had bolted to the upstart league as they were allowed to protect two goaltenders and two skill players. Originally, Wayne Gretzky was not eligible to be protected; under the rules of the time, he normally would have been placed in the Entry Draft pool. However, Pocklington had signed him to a 21-year personal services contract in 1979 and Pocklington used the contract to force the NHL to admit the Oilers and allow the Oilers to keep Gretzky. A statue is located outside Rogers Place in Edmonton, of Gretzky hoisting the Stanley Cup, which the Oilers won four times with him. In his first NHL season, 1979–80, Gretzky was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player (the first of eight in a row) and tied for the scoring lead with Marcel Dionne with 137 points. Although Gretzky played 79 games to Dionne's 80, Dionne was awarded the Art Ross Trophy because he scored more goals (53 to Gretzky's 51). The season still stands as the highest point total by a first year player in NHL history. Gretzky became the youngest player to score 50 goals but was not eligible for the Calder Memorial Trophy, given to the top NHL rookie, because of his previous year of WHA experience. The Calder was instead awarded to Boston Bruins defenceman Ray Bourque.
The Oilers were mediocre during the regular season in their first two seasons, finishing sixteenth and fourteenth respectively. However, due to the fact that 16 of the 21 NHL teams made the playoffs at the time, the Oilers were still able to get their young players experience in the playoffs (they would make the playoffs for their first thirteen years in the NHL). They won only one playoff series in their first three NHL seasons, though, upsetting the Montreal Canadiens in 1980–81. Gretzky set new NHL records in 1980–81 for assists (109) and points (with 164). Also, they still had great draft positions. This allowed the Oilers to put together a young, talented, experienced team quickly. Within three years, Sather and chief scout Barry Fraser had drafted several players who would have an important role in the team's success, including Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe, Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog.
For the 2018-19 season, there are mixed reviews on how well the team will do. Of all the twists and turns the Edmonton Oilers had the misfortune of dealing with during what was a miserable 2017-18 NHL campaign, arguably none was more unexpected than the rise of Ty Rattie. Over the course of three weeks, the 25-year old winger went from depth AHL piece to a player who looks to have earned himself a shot lining up next to Connor McDavid to kick-off 2018-19 season. It has taken a lot longer than he hoped but heading into his sixth season in professional hockey, Ty Rattie is about to get his shot to make a name for himself and earn a spot as an NHL regular. Now it will be up to him to ensure he arrives at training camp in peak form and force Todd McLellan to leave him where he finished 2017-18 skating alongside Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the Edmonton Oilers No. 1 line. The Edmonton Oilers have made some decent, but non-glamourous signings in free agency this summer; something that was, for the most part, expected.
To expect Edmonton to suddenly turn it around and be a league leader in 2018-19 season is a huge stretch. The Oilers are the biggest wild card team heading into this season, because they will either be Cup contenders or total busts. Last year they almost pencilled in to be a top five team in the league, and they fell all the way to 22nd in the league with 78 points. The Oilers have the best player in the world right now in Connor McDavid, and they will go as far as he can take them. McDavid has won back-to-back Art Ross trophies with 100+ point seasons and back to back Ted Lindsey trophies, and is still just 21 years old. As long as his teammates are semi competent, they will make the playoffs. It’s harder to miss the playoffs when you have McDavid than it is to make them.
The Oilers mascot is a Canadian lynx named Hunter who was unveiled on September 26, 2016. The choosing of the Canadian lynx was because their largest place of habitat, in terms of population, is Alberta. It was also because it was the largest vote overall. The name gives tribute to the original Oilers owner, William "Wild Bill" Hunter. Hunter wears the number 72 on its jersey, referencing the year the Oilers were established, which was in 1972. Hunter has a portable drum, in which he uses to entertain the crowds and make them chant "Let's Go Oilers!", along with a rhythmic beat.