Upon joining the NHL, the Oilers were placed in the Campbell Conference's Smythe Division. They were mediocre during the regular season in their first two seasons, finishing sixteenth and fourteenth respectively. However, due to the fact 16 of the 21 NHL teams made the playoffs at the time, the Oilers were still able to get their young players experience in the playoffs (they would make the playoffs for their first 13 years in the NHL). They won only one playoff series in their first three NHL seasons, though, upsetting the Montreal Canadiens in 1980–81. Gretzky set new NHL records in 1980–81 for assists (109) and points (164). Also, they still had great draft positions. This allowed the Oilers to put together a young, talented, experienced team quickly. Within three years, Sather and chief scout Barry Fraser had drafted several players who would have an important role in the team's success, including Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe, Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog.
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