Wayne Gretzky's lowest point total in the 80's was his NHL rookie debut, 137 points. He topped out at 215 points, he also had 212 and 205 point totals. Ridiculous. Todays NHL the max out has been 125 points by "Big Joe" Thornton. Why are point totals so much lower? I mean Crosby is portrayed as the closest thing to Gretz, but I can only see him matching Messier, Crosby would need roughly 28, 100-point seasons. which is ludacris, Mr. Hockey played into his 50's and played 26. Now Crosby started at what 18? so 28 seasons would make him play until 46, which is not impossible. but I dont think you can score 100 points at 46. So I think Gretzky's point totals are pretty safe unless the NHL goes MLB style and play 162 games which is out of the question considering the physical toll it takes on the body. Baseball players have no idea, a pitcher cant play because of a blister and A-Rod misses a game because of a bruise. What girls. Anyway lets look at why Gretzky could get these point totals.
One reason could be that there was only 21 teams. Which means the NHL had more talent on fewer teams. And Edmonton was obviously not short on that. Imagine having 2, 70 goal scorers on your team *drool*. With more more talent on fewer teams mean other teams are better too, but there's always those better teams. And Edmonton wasn't just better, they were almost in a league of their own. This was a great dynasty and thanks to Peter Puck it ended to quick. On the Gregor show today on 1260 they were talking about the ESPN 30 for 30 Gretzky trade. It was well done, and on it Wayne said that if he stayed and the team in general stayed together they coulda won four more cups at least. Could you imagine?? That would be the greatest dynasty in sports history. Any way With more talent creates more offense, which is common sense but Gretzky, Coffey, Kurri, Moose and Anderson on a power play is almost an auto gino. So that is a huge boost in points. In modern NHL the 30 teams arguably "water down" the NHL talent level. So AHL caliber players play in the chel. Playing with lower talent level makes it harder to produce points, just ask Hemsky about Horcoff...
Another thing is the Salary Cap, Messier, Gretz, Lowe, Coffey, Anderson, Kurri and Fuhr in a salary cap would alone take away any depth. Guesstimating, Mess - 8 mil, Gretz - 10, Lowe - 4 mil, Coffey - 6 mil, Anderson - 6-7 mil, Kurri - 8 mil and Fuhr - 5 mil. All that totals too roughly 48 Million in lets say the 59 mil cap, you have 11 mil to sign 15 other players, all at probably 500k - 1 mil. So in the salary cap era it is hard to get a stacked team with salary demands. Also it is gonna be tough to see a dynasty sprout, if Chicago repeats I would be dumb-founded. Which also kinda sucks, Detroit is the closest thing to it with their repeat, but it was before the cap. So the cap definitely hinders point production. If Crosby played with Hemsky and Ovechkin I would think their point totals would rise tremendously.
One more reason is the players in general, do you think the NHL has progressed with the players being better than ever, and bigger. Looking at the Oilers 83-84 roster, no one missed large amounts of games. But this is in fact one season, so its not really viable. Do you think players were smaller? The Moose was 6'2, 211 lbs. He's no Byfuglien, 6'4, 257 lbs. coke machine. Yet he was feared and could mow you over. Could you see Gretzky dominating now as he did in the 80's and 90's??? I don't know....But playing bigger bodies does influence injury to occur more frequently.
So all these points definitely could be debated more, and went into further detail than what I have said. But my conclusive opinion is that in the 80's it was easier to produce offense than it is today. Grant Fuhr's all time GAA is 3.38. That's terrible!!!!! So goalies could also be debated along with equipment. But anyway, I am done. Stay classy San Diego, I'm Ron Burgundy?