Small trades with big results is a series that looks at trades throughout NHL history that seemed small or insignificant at the time but turned out to be much, much more. In this installment, we look at how Glenn Anderson ended up with the Edmonton Oilers.
Small NHL Trades with Big Results: Glenn Anderson
This trade between the Minnesota North Stars and Edmonton Oilers revolved around the 1979 WHA reclaim draft. Because the rules allowed a WHA team to reclaim a player that an NHL team picked, a deal needed to be reached between the teams. The crux of the deal is that the North Stars owned the NHL rights to Paul Shmyr and wanted to make sure the Oilers would not reclaim him.
Minnesota trades a 4th round pick in the 1979 draft to Edmonton to ensure the Oilers would not re-claim Paul Shmyr during the reclaim draft. The North Stars wanted to get this player into their lineup and paid a seemingly small price to ensure the Oilers would not take him. It’s the kind of trade the Vegas Golden Knights used to assemble such a strong expansion team.
Shmyr’s rights originally belonged to the Chicago Black Hawks. Shmyr made his NHL debut for the ‘Hawks in the 1969-70 season. He was traded to the California Golden Seals in 1971. After one season with the Seals, he jumped to the upstart WHA and joined the Cleveland Crusaders. Shmyr was one of the top defensive stars in the WHA. After four seasons with Cleveland, the hard-nosed Shmyr joined the San Diego Mariners, where he had his best offensive season. Shmyr joined the Oilers after one season in San Diego. He would captain the Oilers to the regular-season league championship in the WHA’s final season. In his WHA career, Shmyr was named a first-team All-Star three times. He finished third in games played, twelfth in assists and fourth in penalty minutes. He also won the top defenceman award in 1976.
Glenn Anderson (1979 4th round pick)
Anderson began his junior career with the Bellingham Blazers of the BCJHL in 1977-78. He posted 62 goals and 131 in 64 games. After this year, he was recruited to play with the University of Denver in the NCAA. Anderson scored 55 points to lead Denver in scoring. He would also score 26 goals in 41 games. After Anderson was drafted by the Oilers, he opted to play for the Canadian Olympic team for the 1980 Olympics. In preparation for the tournament, Team Canada toured playing teams all over the world. Anderson would make his Oilers debut in the 1980-81 season.
Once Shmyr joined the North Stars, they named him captain in 1979. His hard-nosed play and leadership were on full display as Minnesota began to exceed expectations. In the 1980 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the North Stars had a run to the semi-final, including knocking off the defending champion Montreal Canadiens along the way. In 1981, Minnesota did even better and made it to the Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, they would lose to the New York Islanders.
The move seemingly paid off as the North Stars were on the rise. Unfortunately for Shmyr, he only played in three games during the 1981 playoffs. He left the North Stars after the 1981 season. Shmyr signed with the Hartford Whalers as a free agent for the 1981-82 season. He would retire from hockey after that season.
After representing Canada at the 1980 Olympics, the Team Canada national program was discontinued. Anderson faced a choice of going back to university or join the Oilers. Fortunately for the Oilers, Anderson decided to go pro. Anderson’s rookie campaign gave fans a taste of what to expect. In 58 games, Anderson scored 30 goals and 53 points. Anderson then developed into a premier goal-scorer and clutch playoff performer for the Oilers.
Anderson would score at least 30 goals, including two 54 goal seasons, a 48 goal season and a 42 goal season in his first eight seasons in Edmonton. In his Oilers career, Anderson played in 854 games, scoring 417 goals and 906 points. Anderson is third all-time in goals, fourth in assists and points in franchise history. Even more impressive was Anderson’s ability to raise his game during the postseason. In 164 playoff games with the Oilers, Anderson scored 81 goals and 181 points. 12 of his goals were game-winners. Based on his playoff performances, Glenn Anderson earned his reputation as a clutch performer.
In his career, Anderson would score 498 goals and 1099 points in 1129 games. His career playoff totals of 93 goals, 121 assists and 214 points are good for the fourth, ninth and fourth in NHL history. His five playoff overtime goals are third all-time even further establishing him as a clutch player. Anderson won six total Stanley Cups in his career, five in Edmonton and one with the New York Rangers. Anderson played in four All-Star games. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008.
Big Things Can Have Small Beginnings
This is the second of two disastrous trades the North Stars made with the Oilers based around the infamous 1979 WHA Reclaim draft. The two draft picks the Oilers received from Minnesota turned into Hall of Fame players. While the players the North Stars received were solid, they were not Hall of Fame calibre. Still, this trade worked out pretty well for Minnesota initially. Shmyr led the North Stars on two memorable playoffs runs as their captain. He helped establish Minnesota as a team on the rise. Unfortunately, Shmyr only played for two seasons in Minnesota and was retired by 1982.
Glenn Anderson became an elite goal scored and one of the key core players of the Edmonton dynasty of the ’80s. He was a prolific goal scorer and clutch playoff performer. The Oilers can thank the North Stars for helping them assemble one of the NHL’s most dominant dynasties.
Again, the draft is a random exercise. It’s hard to completely bury Minnesota as it is extremely rare to find two Hall of Fame calibre players in the same draft. And it’s important to remember the rest of the NHL passed on these players for multiple rounds. That is not to say it doesn’t hurt any less for North Star fans to see the two picks they traded turn into franchise-altering players.
The 1979 merger reclaim draft is not done impacting the NHL. It was a cruel beast that altered the fortunes of many NHL teams. Although, in the next installment, it’s a merging WHA team that wants a do-over.