To those of you who have been following the NHL for years, most will remember the trade that took place 31 years ago today on August 9, 1988. In the trade that rocked the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers did the unheard… they traded Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. Along with Gretzky the Oilers sent Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski. The Oilers received Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, the Kings first-round draft picks in 1989, 1991, and 1993, plus $15 million in cash. Back in 1988, that was a huge sum of money. In today’s market, it would be equivalent to $32,477,979.71.
The Oilers should have received quite a bit for the best player on the planet. They got it in the form of Carson, who headlined the Kings return package. The Kings drafted Carson second overall in the 1986 draft. He played his rookie season the year after, scoring 79 points in 80 games. This was an incredible showing from 18-year-old Carson, who ranked third in Calder Memorial Trophy voting that year. Ahead of him were future Hall-of-Famers Luc Robitaille, who won the award, and Ron Hextall. Carson came out even stronger the next year. During the 1987-88 season, he scored 55 goals and 52 assists for a staggering total of 107 points. This was amazing. Only two other teenage players, Gretzky and Sidney Crosby, have scored more than Carson’s 107 points.
Jimmy Carson as an Oiler
Carson’s first season in Edmonton made it appear that the trade was equitable. He led the team with 49 goals and 100 total points. It seemed all was well. But, in his second campaign with Edmonton, after just four games, Carson seemed weary of the comparisons to Gretzky and requested a trade to his hometown Detroit Red Wings. This too could be described as a blockbuster trade with Petr Klima, Adam Graves, Joe Murphy, and Jeff Sharples coming back to Edmonton in exchange for Carson, Kevin McClelland, and a fifth-round draft pick.