I think most Oiler fans would rank Mark Messier as the greatest LW in team history (pretty high on the C list, too) with Craig Simpson, Esa Tikkanen, Ryan Smyth and Mike Krushelnyski somewhere in there. Glenn Anderson and others would also be considered (Oilers had all kinds of criss cross stuff back in the day) so pretty much any of the All-Stars of the golden era could qualify.

Kenta Nilsson played 5 minutes here and he was outstanding.

Question: how close is Taylor Hall to breaking in to your all-time top 5 list on LW? Is he there now?

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31 Responses to "BEST LW EVER?"

  1. Racki says:

    It’s far too hard to compare eras. While Messier won most of what he did as a center, I would still have to say that he’s the #1 on my list though, as he still played some damn good hockey early in his career as a left winger.

    I think it’s too early to call Hall the #2LWer, so I’ll give it to Smyth.. but it will easily be Hall’s in no time. I’m just not ready to say that just yet.

  2. iHockeyWpg says:

    By the time Hall’s career is over (hopefully all of it in Edmonton) he’ll be the best LW ever IMO. Saw him great at the Memorial Cup in Brandon and he’s going to be a super stud, no question. Hope Eakins keeps him with Eberle, two gifted snipers who’ll make magic every night. Can’t wait for playoffs….

  3. Manitoba Oilers says:

    He’s #2

  4. bookje says:

    Messier and Hall are centres.

  5. Cameron says:

    I thought Messier only had one or two seasons as a portsider. I guess if you count him he’s the clear #1.

    Hall – he’s already better than Smyth – at everything, just needs more time to accumulate the #s.

    As a Flames fan, we LOATHED Messier, but truly that was when he was a pivot. After him, it has to be Tikkanen. He drove us bananas, and he could play the game any way you liked; rough, dirty, or end-to-end. Not to mention he could shadow the elite while potting 25+ and swearing at you in five languages at once. He was one of a kind.

  6. Lowetide says:

    Cameron: Last time he was named to the post-season All-Star team was 82-83 iirc. So that’s 4 seasons.

  7. jp says:

    By the sounds of it Mess is still ahead of Hall (unless Bookje is correct). In an all-time sense I agree with Cameron that Tik and Smyth are still ahead too. But barring a catastrophic injury/trade, he’ll pass the lot in a hurry.

    Of the group only Messier and Hall have ever finished top 10 in NHL scoring. Interesting that Hall did it in season 3 while Mess did it in season 4.

  8. Chunklets says:

    According to his Wikipedia entry, Messier made the switch to C during the ’84 playoffs, so that’s five total regular seasons at LW. Of those, a glance at Hockey Reference suggests that the first was bad, the second very ordinary, the third good, and the last two excellent, all of which kind of fits with the hazy memories.

    As for Hall, I think he is top 5 at this point, and probably (hopefully!) only going up from here! :)

  9. GordM says:

    LT…more important than LW analysis…what are your thoughts on Gareth Bale??!!??

  10. BlueNoteNorth says:


    Iirc, Linseman centred Messier and Anderson in the 84 playoffs. Talk about a potent second line.

    I can still see Linseman puking in the faceoff circle in one of the final games, wiping it away with his stick and then winning the faceoff. I credit him with showing Messier what it took to win.

  11. Chunklets says:


    I think Slats was pretty tough on Messier too, at least until Moose settled down a little bit (scuttlebutt is that trading Don Murdoch in 79-80 helped settle Messier down at least a bit).

    And that was indeed a crazy second line, especially when you think about who was playing ahead of them!

  12. mumbai max says:

    I think Messier, Tik and Smyth need to stay on top for awhile, just as a courtesy. Hurricane Hall moves past Smyth after his first PPG season. He passes Tik when he wins the scoring race, and then to #1 with his first Conn Smythe win. He needs to earn #1 the old fashioned way.

  13. Ducey says:

    Anderson was a RW.

    Amazing to check the all time playoff scorers. 5 of the top 6 are Oilers. Only Jagr has slipped into 5th spot. MacT should have signed him just so the Oilers could claim all 6.

  14. speeds says:

    Which were better:

    Hall’s first 3 years, or Messier’s first 3 years?

  15. Chunklets says:


    Kind of have to give that one to Hall, I think. Messier was at .81 ppg over his first three NHL seasons, with Hall at .85, and that’s before taking era effects, which favour Hall, into account. The flipside is that Hall probably was given better opportunities during those first three seasons, but there’s a reason for that too…

  16. wheatnoil says:

    Which were better:

    Hall’s first 3 years, or Messier’s first 3 years?

    1st season:
    Messier 0.44 P/G, -10, 120 PIM
    Hall 0.65 P/G, -9, 27 PIM

    2nd season:
    Messier 0.88 P/G, -12, 102 PIM
    Hall 0.87 P/G, -3, 36 PIM

    3rd season:
    Messier 1.13 P/G, +21, 119 PIM (1st team All-Star)
    Hall 1.11 P/G, +5, 33 PIM + 2 game suspension (*2nd team All-Star)

    Damn that Hall is something special.

    Edit: And as mentioned by chunklets, that doesn’t correct for era effects.

  17. Spydyr says:

    Which were better:

    Hall’s first 3 years, or Messier’s first 3 years?

    Which were better:

    Messier’s 5 Cups here or Hall never making the playoffs?

    And no Hall is not winning 5 Cups here.

  18. David says:


    Championships are the worst criteria for ranking individuals in a team sport.

  19. Racki says:

    Spydyr: Which were better:

    Messier’s 5 Cups here or Hall never making the playoffs?
    And no Hall is not winning 5 Cups here.

    First off, let me preface by saying I think Messier is the better player here, and there’s a good chance he will always be.

    However, the whole # of cups argument is completely overblown to me. Teams win cups, not individuals. Yes, Messier was a big part of the cups, but the greatest players can’t win cups on their own.. evidenced by Ray Bourque.. one of the best d-men ever… but he never won the cup until he was finally traded into the cup winning team. Eric Lindros never won it, Marcel Dionne never did. Ovechkin hasn’t won it yet, and he’s one of the best LWers ever.

    With 30 teams in the NHL now, it’s also even harder to win it than it ever was before too. Hell, it’s hard as it is to even make the playoffs consistently. think Gretzky and Messier were both instrumental in the cup wins back in the 80s / 90s (in Moose’s case) though. But Hall hasn’t had the benefit of the kind of team Messier had back in his heyday. That may change in the near future though.

    Anyways, like i said though, I still consider Messier the better player, and think he always will be because I think he’s one of the best NHLers ever.

  20. D says:

    With Hall it’s likely only a matter of time. He’ll probably slot in number 2 behind Messier when all is said and done. I did not know that Anderson did duty on the Left Wing. Anyway, even though Hall could possibly overtake Anderson at some point, I’ll always want Messier and Anderson on my number 2 line.

  21. commonfan14 says:

    I’m just relieved nobody has mentioned Penner yet.

  22. BlacqueJacque says:

    Hall, no question.

    Did more than Moose in less time, surrounded by lesser teammates, facing better opposition, in an era where goalies wear square chestpads and stand 6’6″ high in a tiny net.

  23. DeadmanWaking says:

    It’s hard to compare Hall to Mess. Mess played with one hand on his stick and one elbow in his opponent’s larynx. Mess, Stevens, and Pronger would have very different careers starting out in the league today. The game they played had its jersey retired and raised to the rafters–by a noose.

    I’d first like to see Hall post some crooked numbers while the team is thriving. Barring injury, I think #2 is embossed on his baggage slip. Or call it 1B. Messier broke the mold, and then the crumbs were swept and tweezed and carted off to a secure landfill by men in aspirated foil pajamas. That’s also what guys had to play through back in the day to get a prime look at the anorexic butterfly with the lightning-bug, leather mittens. Eras are hard to compare.


    Tonight I was skimming a tech article, and this is what I read:

    This means that, for a given mass of carbyne, its surface area is relatively massive.

    Really? Spoken like a man who’s failing to find his G-spot in his mmassive quest for massive manhood.

    Bartok once composed a passage of music in which he brilliantly expressed that a certain contemporary couldn’t find the key to G with both hands. Monkeys twitter and docked elephants trombulate while Bartok gives banality a once-over with a lead baton. At 23:00 we have Mozart playing Salieri’s musical offering straight up. Then he (Bartok) begins to tear it a new one, plunging headlong into such a sure-handed and thorough vivisection it would make Dr Frankenstein blush. My oh my how the feathers fly from the prim folding chairs.

    By 34:30 the only lingering question is whether Bartok has summoned the trumpets, or the trumpets have summoned him. In Bartok’s version, after the twenty seconds of radiant, pan-galactic manhood before the rush gathers (this passage begins 34:40) the climax itself is sharp, brief and tidy. Silly billy, he’s saying. This schmuck doesn’t even know the difference between the culmination and the release; he’s still sounding his manhood with a graduated flask. Wrong tool fool. Manhood is a state of higher being achieved through fluency, precision, and discernment. In Bartok’s view.


    I just searched Google for “abuse of massive” and all I got back was “massive abuse” mainly concerning frocks/skirts.

    “massive abuse of word” brought back this one which doesn’t even include the word “massive” (thanks, Google, for doing no evil), but does barge into our good friend Aatu Antonimi: The Word We Love To Hate.

    Well, fie on Google. I already know what makes abuse of “massive” so damn popular. It’s because it allows people (and headline writers) to hide behind the pleated skirt of hereditary umbrage in failing to declare whether one’s moral outrage towers or pervades. Extensive, or one-shot and severe? Doesn’t matter. Never you mind, my pet. Grab your pitchfork, honey, there’s work to do.

    One stroke of the pen by a jackboot with too much power: massive abuse of power. A century of misguided policy by the Catholic church: massive cover-up. Massive covers anything so big or so provocative you don’t need to bother your pretty head with how it was sized up. It’s the moral abacus where the beads go left or right, up or down, however the wind blows.

    Massive: your handy-dandy universal, dimensionless metric of emasculation.

    Shit, if you want a good one, know the difference. KYSS: Know your shit, stupid. Have I mentioned that yet? Conjured that up a month ago. It’s my new mantra.

  24. DeadmanWaking says:

    I would have fleshed out the meter to read “dimensionless metric of muffled emasculation” had I not spent five minutes restoring the URL that vaporized when I missed the A tag before the HREF. You click “edit” to fix and the entire URL is redacted. I had to quickly dumpster dive into Lazarus. Lazarus rocks, but the interface wasn’t designed to navigate against a ticking timer. Needs a Hurt Locker upgrade, I think.

  25. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Damn wedding plans eating into my Oil-net time.

    Just wanted to scream anger about that Matty article the other day on Hemsky. Not sure why I should expect anything less than condescending twattage, but it still pisses me off everything time.

    I guess everyone has a blindspot. Sucks that he shares his with a huge portion of the fan base and that it clearly conflicts with his work.

  26. FastOil says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:
    Damn wedding plans eating into my Oil-net time.

    Just wanted to scream anger about that Matty article the other day on Hemsky. Not sure why I should expect anything less than condescending twattage, but it still pisses me off everything time.

    I guess everyone has a blindspot. Sucks that he shares his with a huge portion of the fan base and that it clearly conflicts with his work.

    It riled me as well. Prize winning ass hattery.

    Hall will likely move into #2 before long. I don’t think #1 can discussed much before the end of a career when you’re comparing to a player with the resume of Mark Messier. As we all know many lists have him in the top 5 players of all time. Taylor might need a while to build his resume up some.

    I think it is valid to compare player across eras. You can’t directly compare numbers, but dominant players who had a full tool belt are the best players or you could say the most talented individuals of their era, of the cohort of hockey players at that time. If they played now they would also be at the top of the game, top of the cohort.

    Would we say Issac Newton wouldn’t be a great scientist today because he didn’t use computers, or Edison or Bell would not be as brilliant because if they lived now and light bulbs and phones were already invented they’d be dry?

    Sometimes people refer to fitness and size etc, but this is relative to the era. Gretzky mentions it, but if he played now he would train more, be stronger and he’d still be blowing everyone out of the water as Hull said about him. He’s just being humble. Wayne’s hero Howe would be at the top of the game in this era because he was very skilled and very tough, the ultimate combination for the NHL. Yes he would have to cheat less but that is not what made him so great.

    Another thing to mention is that 21 YO Hall is not nearly as intimidating as 21 YO Messier, not even close. Talk about hard to play against. Messier would be just as scary now as then. The guy is in his 50′s and still looks like a maniac.

  27. godot10 says:

    Anderson was a RW.

    Amazing to check the all time playoff scorers.5 of the top 6 are Oilers.Only Jagr has slipped into 5th spot.MacT should have signed him just so the Oilers could claim all 6.

    Anderson played LW on occasion, depending on the roster, in the early eighties.

    For example, Anderson played LW with Messier and Willy Lindstrom.

  28. godot10 says:

    Lots of counting chickens here.

    Rankings ultimately depend on results, not potential.

    Long way for Hall to go in the results category to pass Messier and Tikkanen, or even Craig Simpson (who would be my top three) (Regardless of what I said in the previous post, I really don’t view Anderson as a LW for career rankings purposes).

  29. "Steve Smith" says:

    godot10: Rankings ultimately depend on results, not potential.

    …and Taylor Hall is, after three NHL seasons, putting up stupidly good results.

    Obviously, plenty can happen to derail a career. But at this point, Hall becoming a better NHL player than anybody on that list but Messier is an (ahem) reasonable expectation. Tikkanen and Simpson were very good players, but neither would be in the conversation for the best player in his draft class* – Hall’s still the front-runner for that status in his.

    *Having made that statement, I thought I should check to make sure that’s the case. Man, 1985 (Simpson’s draft) was weak. But it included Igor Larionov and Joe Nieuwendyk, both of whom I think everybody would rank as better than Craig Simpson.

  30. "Steve Smith" says:

    Put another way, if Taylor Hall puts together another ten years at his current level of performance, he’s arguably number two on the list of best Oiler left-wingers of all time. He’s not being ranked on potential, even if there’s every reason to expect that he’ll get even better.

  31. oilswell says:

    Such comparisons are foolish, and so are perfect for summer! If you ask me, a positional comparison is defined by the position so you can only rank them in relation to the number of actual minutes played in that position while playing for the Oilers. The Oilers once owned the rights to Mike Richter but it would be asinine to include him on the list of great Oiler goaltenders. Smyth played centre for a while but it would be folly to start ranking him high in the list of Oiler centres just because he had a strong career as a winger.

    That understood, while Messier was a great player for many years, the number of shifts that he was that great player while playing LW for the Oilers is not going to be that significant a hurdle for a player like Hall to pass. Should he continue his present path on left wing he can expect to surpass Messier well before his second contract runs out. I would say Hall is passing Gelinas and has still some work to catch up on Simpson and Tikkanen.

    Unless your ranking is based on the peak-career quality of player ever to play a bit at left wing for the Oilers, in which case its a stupid exercise :P and I say good day to you.

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