But you said it yourself.. Those teams are stacked offensively. So much that they inflate numbers considerably. So I don't see how sacrificing defence for MORE offence makes us "WAY" better.
Well it's all hypothetical anyway isn't it, because they were already much better than anyone else either way? Hence the two Cups.
The whole point of the thread though (hence the title "What Might Have Been"), is what would have happened if Gretzky had come here in a trade in 1988. I contend that we'd have still won the Cups in 1997 and 1998...and perhaps more along the way. Gretzky was that good of a possession player. Yzerman had only one clear advantage over Gretzky and that was defense, and Yzerman's defense (puck possession team) wasn't really a game changer in those series.
Gretzky's additional offensive acumen, I argue, might have been. Tell me the additional offense wouldn't have been useful in the 7 games series' in 91 , 93, 94, or the 6 game series in 96 as well?
Gretzky was SO much better than everyone offensively, that the team would be better overall than with Yzerman's. Why? Because Gretzky massively drove possession to such a degree that on a puck possession team like Detroit, it would lead to huge overall net gains. Both for the offense (where his ability to control the puck would lead to more zone time and increased production for everyone), along with the defense (which would be better by virtue of never having to actually play in their own zone).
In short, Gretzky is the ultimate possession player, and the Detroit Red Wings of the late 90's where one of the ultimate possession teams. Of course they'd be better.