Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
After hearing that Friday was the 25th anniversary of the Edmonton Oilers trading Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings, I decided to revisit Gretzky's career numbers as I like to do every once and awhile to remind myself just how great "The Great One" was.
While Gretzky still had some eye-popping numbers after joining the Kings, his five best fantasy hockey seasons came during his time with the Oilers.
And while his numbers speak for themselves, the most impressive thing is how far ahead of everyone else Gretzky was during his peak years.
In those years, Gretzky wasn't just on another level or in another stratosphere, he was on another planet.
Check it out:
In Gretzky's fifth best fantasy season, he led the NHL with 71 goals, 125 assists and 348 shots while finishing second in plus/minus. Lanny McDonald ranked second in the NHL with 66 goals and Denis Savard finished 39 assists behind Gretzky for second in the league. We're just getting started.
Gretzky only had 52 goals this season, his lowest total from 1980-81 to 1986-87 and sixth most in the NHL, but he balanced his minor dropoff with an NHL single-season-record 163 assists. Gretzky had 70 more assists than second-place finisher Mario Lemieux while also leading the NHL in shots and finishing third in plus/minus.
Gretzky ranked first in goals by two with 73, assists by 56 with 135, plus/minus by 22 with a +98 and shots by 25 with 358.
In his second best fantasy season, "The Great One" scored 87 goals, 31 more than Michel Goulet who finished second in the NHL with 56. He also had 32 more assists than second-place finisher Paul Coffey with 118, finished second in shots and led the NHL in plus/minus. His 87 goals remain the second most for a single season in NHL history.
Gretzky's 87 goals in 1983-84 were bested by ... himself in 1981-82 when he had 92 as a 20-year-old. He added 120 assists, the sixth highest total for a single season (Gretzky owns 11 of the 12 highest assist totals in NHL history). For good measure, he led the league in SOG and plus/minus as well. Mike Bossy finished second in the NHL in goals with 64, 28 fewer than Gretzky, and Peter Stastny had 93 assists, 27 behind No. 99.
To put Gretzky's dominance into a present-day context, the highest point total over the past 10 years -- 125 by Joe Thornton in 2005-06 -- would not rank among the top 13 seasons for Gretzky, who won 10 Art Ross Trophies.
For most of his career Gretzky was fantasy's best player, and with nine Hart Trophies he was also well recognized in reality.
In fact, the only difference between real Gretzky and fantasy Gretzky was that fantasy Gretzky's owners never fielded a trade offer for him.
Twenty-five years ago, the Oilers did just that with the real No. 99.
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