Ryan Smyth Chasing 127

Dale MacMillan

In a mostly forgettable season at least there is Smyth's chasing of power play goal number 127.

When it comes to the Oilers there isn't much left to get excited about these days. The team's on-ice results have been very disappointing, and at this point it's only a matter of time until the Oilers are officially eliminated from playoff contention for the eighth straight season. Early on in Rebuild 2.0 the search for positives was something much easier to get into, but now, as we look at the last three months of year four of the rebuild, it's really starting to get old in a hurry.

One thing that does keep me interested on a nightly basis is Ryan Smyth's shot at becoming the Oilers all-time regular season power play goal leader. You are probably familiar with the numbers: Smyth has 124, Wayne Gretzky 125, and Glenn Anderson 126. Symth, who has been averaging 2:26 a night on the power play, already has three goals with man advantage this season in 35 games, another three in the team's last 37 is hardly out of the question. For myself, having been born in 1979, I don't ever expect to see the Oilers that I grew up a fan of beside the Oilers of the 1980s. That Smyth is there right now is really quite amazing to me.

For an idea of how different the Oilers teams that Smyth has been a part of from those that won five Stanley Cups I put together a simple table with and the four Hall of Fame players that surround him on this list.

Player From To GP PP PP/GP Oilers G/GP Oilers PP/GP
Glenn Anderson 1981 1996 845 126 0.15 4.50 0.98
Wayne Gretzky 1980 1988 696 125 0.18 4.83 0.97
Ryan Smyth 1995 2014 934 124 0.13 2.74 0.75
Jari Kurri 1981 1990 754 107 0.14 4.77 1.01
Mark Messier 1980 1991 851 89 0.11 4.65 0.99

As I'm sure you expected, Smyth's Oilers don't score nearly as often as the 1980s versions of this team did, not in total goals or power play goals, and yet Smyth has maintained a scoring rate similar to those players. Have a few of Smyth's 124 power play goals been what some might call ugly? Certainly, but you can't argue with the results he's gotten over the years. I really hope he has another three left in him this year, it's one of the few things we have to look forward to at this point. And if he falls just short there is no reason that he shouldn't get another chance next year.

Of course thinking about the regular season totals got me thinking about career totals. I'm sure all of these guys scored a power play goal or two in the playofs, and in Gretzky's case there is a WHA season and playoffs to account for as well. Using hockey-reference.com I was able to compile everything but the numbers from the Oilers 32 playoff games played during their years in the WHA, for that I used the game data from the WHA Hall of Fame website. The following are the all-time franchise power play goal leaders.

Rank Player PP Goals GP PP/GP
1 Wayne Gretzky 159 914 0.17
2 Glenn Anderson 148 1009 0.15
3 Ryan Smyth 132 1002 0.13
4 Jari Kurri 129 900 0.14
5 Mark Messier 105 1017 0.10
6 Craig Simpson 86 486 0.18
7 Paul Coffey 80 626 0.13
8 Esa Tikkanen 48 636 0.08
9 Ales Hemsky 43 671 0.06
10 Blair MacDonald 43 493 0.09
11 Doug Weight 43 627 0.07
12 Shawn Horcoff 42 831 0.05
13 Bill Guerin 41 231 0.18
14 Jason Arnott 37 298 0.12
15 Brett Callighen 34 377 0.09
16 Petr Klima 34 334 0.10
17 Dustin Penner 33 304 0.11
18 Anson Carter 30 217 0.14
19 Charlie Huddy 30 832 0.04
20 Sam Gagner 29 446 0.07
21 Taylor Hall 29 209 0.14
22 Jarret Stoll 28 310 0.09
23 Rusty Patenaude 28 366 0.08
24 Boris Mironov 27 344 0.08
25 Mike Krushelnyski 26 358 0.07

Interestingly, to me at least, there is a three-way tie at 22 between Anderson, Gretzky, and Kurri for the top spot on the Oilers playoff power play goal leaderboard. So it's actually the 1978/79 WHA season that puts Gretzky at the top of the all-time list. Once again proof that the WHA matters and should be counted.

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