Stats & Info: Wayne Gretzky

Impact of the Gretzky trade, 25 years later

August, 9, 2013

US PresswireGretzky's trade from the Oilers to the Kings has made a lasting impact on the NHL.
On August 9, 1988, Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s preeminent player and the eventual all-time league scoring leader, was traded (along with Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski) from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three 1st-round draft picks and a reported $15 million (U.S.).

How did the Gretzky trade impact the NHL and hockey, particularly in the United States?

Not only did it help raise the NHL’s profile in “nontraditional” markets -- namely in the Sun Belt states (Southern and Southwestern U.S.) -- but it also helped increase youth hockey participation.

Since the trade, the NHL has added nine teams, increasing its footprint in the Sun Belt through expansion and relocation (six were expansion franchises; three relocated to warm-weather locales).

Franchise values have also greatly increased despite three labor stoppages (including a notorious one that cancelled the entire 2004-05 season).

In 1993, Gretzky helped lead the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the Montreal Canadiens. That remains the last Cup won by a Canadian-based team. In that same timeframe, five Sun Belt-based teams – the Kings (2012), Anaheim Ducks (2007), Carolina Hurricanes (2006), Tampa Bay Lightning (2004) and Dallas Stars (1999) -- have hoisted the Cup.

Only the Kings were in the league at the time of the Gretzky trade.

Growing the game in new markets
The Gretzky trade did not just increase hockey’s presence around the United States at the NHL level, but increased it on the youth level as well.

In 1990, USA Hockey had just over 195,000 registered members. By 2010, that number had increased to nearly 475,000 members. States that saw major increases included warm weather states such as Arizona, California, Texas, Florida and North Carolina.

In 2013, the U.S. hockey team won the gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship with a team that featured players from 13 different states, including Texas, Florida and California.

By comparison, the 1988 U.S. hockey team that took part in the Calgary Winter Olympics featured players from nine states, but only one from a warm-weather climate (backup goalie John Blue, from California).

More Americans going higher in the draft
The greater participation numbers in the U.S. since the trade has led to more American players being selected in the early rounds of the NHL Draft.

According to USA Hockey, from 1968 to 1988 (the 1988 draft took place two months before the trade), only one draft saw 10 or more American players selected in the first two rounds (13 in 1986).

Since 1989, 13 NHL Drafts have seen 10 or more American players selected in rounds one and two, including each of the past dozen.

60-goal season for Stamkos would be a first

April, 5, 2012

Charles LeClaire/US PresswireThe Lightning's Steven Stamkos has two games left to reach 60 goals this season.

With 58 goals and two games to play, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos has a chance to become the 20th player in NHL history to record 60 goals in a season.

He would be the first player to do it since Alex Ovechkin scored 65 goals in 2007-08. And, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Stamkos would be the first player from one of the nine franchises that have entered the league since 1991 to score 60 goals in a season.

But in recent years, 60 goals has been a difficult benchmark to reach after being a regular occurrence for more than a decade.

There was at least one 60-goal scorer for 14 straight seasons from 1981 to 1994, with the streak ending in the lockout shortened 1994-95 season.

The following year, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Mario Lemieux (69 goals) and Jaromir Jagr (62) reached the milestone. Since then, Ovechkin is the only player with a 60-goal season.

Jagr, Ovechkin and Teemu Selanne are the only active players with a 60-goal season.

Now in his fourth year in the NHL, Stamkos is looking to be the 10th player to score 60 goals at least once in his first four seasons. Scoring 60 this season would put Stamkos in good company: Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky, Lemieux and Brett Hull all had at least one 60-goal season in their first four years in the league.

Gretzky, Mike Bossy and Pavel Bure are the only players with multiple 60-goal seasons in their first four years.

Although scoring 60 goals at such a young age would be impressive, if Stamkos does it, his overall point total could rank among the lowest of the 60-goal seasons.

Stamkos currently has 95 points (58 goals, 37 assists); only two players, Reggie Leach in 1975-76 and Lanny McDonald in 1982-83, had fewer than 100 points in a 60-goal season.

Stamkos was held scoreless against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. He has been held without a goal in back-to-back games seven times this season, and just three times in three straight games.

Stamkos’ remaining games are both on the road, which also doesn’t help his cause -- only 22 of his 58 goals have come on the road.

On Thursday, Stamkos faces the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has seven goals against Toronto in 15 career games. Tampa Bay’s final game is against the Winnipeg Jets. Stamkos has 19 career goals against the Jets franchise (previously the Atlanta Thrashers), his most against any opponent.