Edmonton Oilers Traded Mark Messier as Part of Cost-Cutting Measures

Published on January 30th, 2024 2:51 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Mark Messier was the heart and soul of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team. In 1988, the Edmonton Oilers completed the biggest trade in the history of the NHL when they moved Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings.

Despite losing the greatest player in the history of the game, the Oilers remained remarkably competitive. In fact, they won the Stanley Cup in 1990.

Mark Messier was the heart and soul of that Oilers team. In fact, he won the league's MVP award in 1990.

The Oilers had Messier under contract for a number of years still. As long as the team had Messier, they would remain competitive.


The Oilers were not interested in keeping together a Stanley Cup winner.

In fact, they were in cost-cutting mode.

Messier grew frustrated with Oilers management after the team decided to let star players such as Jari Kurri, Glen Anderson and Adam Graves go.

With more important pieces of the Oilers team leaving, Messier finally demanded a trade, unless the team reversed course and stopped trading away their best players. Messier was also reportedly unhappy with his deal.

The Oilers weren't prepared to keep their best players, so Mark Messier was suddenly on the market.


Messier was a valuable asset - after all, he was still in his late 20s, and had won five Stanley Cups.

In October of 1991, the Oilers reached a deal with the New York Rangers.

At the time, the return for Messier didn't seem that good, and the trade is even worse with the passage of time.

The Oilers traded Messier and Jeff Beukeboom to the Rangers in exchange for Bernie Nicholls, Steven Rice and Louie DeBrusk.

There were no superstars in the package for the Oilers. There were no high draft picks.

For one of the best players in the league, this was an abysmal return.


The deal for Messier would certainly pay off for the Rangers, as they would win the Stanley Cup in 1994.

The Oilers, on the other hand, saw their dynasty get completely decimated.

To their credit, the Oilers made it to the Conference finals in the 1991-92 season, where they would get swept by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Things would spiral lower from there - the next season, the Oilers would finish with a record of just 26-50-8, as all of their deals finally caught up to them.

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