The NHL Saturday series has been on unintentional hiatus for a month, but we’re back today with a look at the first year of the next dynasty in professional hockey: the Edmonton Oilers. We just saw the Montréal Canadiens win four Stanley Cups in a row, followed by the New York Islanders and their four straight Cups. How will the Oilers dynasty do?
History buffs probably already know, but how about these awards? Ha!
1984 Hart: Wayne Gretzky (original, confirmed)
Oilers center Wayne Gretzky topped the league in Point Shares (19.64) by more than 5 points over the next-best skater and by more than 8 points over the next forward. He was clearly the best player in the NHL. Because no one else near the top of the PS rankings was the difference between a postseason spot or early golf tee times, either, Gretzky will get to keep this Hart Trophy that he won via vote again.
This is his fifth Hart nod in a row, all confirmed by us after a vote win, too. Here are all the categories the Great One topped his peers in during the regular season: goals (87), assists (118), points (205), plus/minus rating (+78), even-strength goals (55), power-play goals (20), short-handed goals (12), and shot percentage (26.7).
1984 Vezina: Tom Barrasso (original), Glen Hanlon (revised)
Buffalo Sabres rookie goaltender Tom Barrasso won the Vezina vote despite playing in just 42 games and not finishing in the Top 10 for Goalie Point Shares (7.5). Meanwhile, four peers finished with more than 10 GPS themselves, and that group gets our focus here: Chicago Black Hawks stopper Murray Bannerman (10.58); Hartford Whalers journeyman Greg Millen (10.33); St. Louis Blues veteran Mike Liut (10.32); and New York Rangers stalwart Glen Hanlon (10.01).
Bannerman posted a 23-29-4 record for a 30-42-8 team that claimed the last postseason spot in the Campbell Conference, while the Whale missed the playoffs in the Wales Conference by 9 points in the standings. Liut was 25-29-4 for the 32-41-7 Blues, who finished just 3 points better than Chicago in the Norris Division. Finally, Hanlon was 28-14-4 for the 42-29-9 Rangers, who finished seventh in the Wales playoff chase.
Bannerman and Liut were equally solid for their mediocre teams, while Hanlon clearly stood out more in terms of his team’s record without him in the lineup. The Rangers could have had a different goalie in net and still made the postseason, maybe, but Hanlon secured their Stanley Cup position more effectively than any other goalie.
1984 Norris: Rod Langway (original), Ray Bourque (revised)
Washington Capitals defenseman Rod Langway won a second straight Norris vote despite finishing with just 7.6 Point Shares. Meanwhile, three other blueliners finished 2-4 in the overall NHL PS standings: Boston Bruins star Ray Bourque (14.49), Edmonton stud Paul Coffey (14.30), and Islanders veteran Denis Potvin (11.95). There is no way Langway deserved this award at all.
All three teams with the best D-men finished with over 100 points in the standings, winning division crowns in the process. To us, this comes down to Bourque and Coffey, since they were demonstrably better than Potvin at this point; the Isles stalwart won this award from us four times previously, as well, and even though he was still effective at age 30, the two youngsters had passed him in overall quality of play.
In the end, Bourque wins this award from us, because he led the NHL in defensive PS (7.20), which made him a more well-round blueliner than Coffey during this season. Sure, the Edmonton gunner’s 9.9 offensive PS total is impressive for a defenseman, but his relative neglect of his defensive duties puts him a notch behind Bourque—who wins his second Norris from us.
1984 Calder: Tom Barrasso (original), Steve Yzerman (revised)
Barrasso won this vote, too, with his 7.5 PS mark, while the two top contenders for the hardware were Detroit Red Wings center Steve Yzerman (6.4 PS) and Whalers left wing Sylvain Turgeon (5.7). This comes down to each player’s team and the contextual contributions to their playoff aspirations.
The Sabres finished 48-25-7 to finish with 103 points, as Barrasso posted a 26-12-3 record in 42 games. His team, therefore, went 22-13-4 without him in net. The Sabres could have won 45 games without Barrasso, basically. Meanwhile, the Red Wings squeaked into the playoffs as the No. 7 team in the Campbell Conference, one point ahead of the Black Hawks. Hartford missed the postseason by 9 points in the standings.
It’s clear Detroit misses the postseason without Yzerman, while Buffalo still does just fine without Barrasso. Getting 80 games from a rookie center for a bad team has more value than a half season from a rookie goalie on a great team. Yzerman’s 87 points (39G, 48A) meant a lot more to the Red Wings, for sure.
1984 Conn Smythe: Mark Messier (original), Gretzky (revised)
The Oilers dethroned the Islanders in five games to claim their first Cup championship, and Edmonton forward Mark Messier claimed the Conn Smythe vote with 26 points in 19 games, including 2 game-winning goals. But he was clearly overshadowed by teammates Gretzky (35 points, 3 GWGs) and right wing Jari Kurri (28 points).
Truthfully, there is no way not to give Gretzky this award, as he topped the Oilers in assists (22) and plus/minus rating (+18) during the postseason, while scoring 13 goals—second only to Kurri’s 14 scoring shots. Edmonton used two goalies very effectively on their way to winning the Cup, so this really feels like Gretzky’s hardware.
Messier only had 4 points in the 5 Cup Finals games, as well, while the Great One had 7 points. No New York skater averaged even a point a game, either, while the Islanders netminders were merely solid in the postseason as a whole. This award has to go to Gretzky, period.