Should the Edmonton Oilers claim Adam Hall off waivers?

Jonathan Willis
March 15 2013 11:09AM

Photo: Michael Miller/Wikimedia

On Friday, the Tampa Bay Lightning placed 585-game NHL veteran Adam Hall on waivers. The 6’3”, 213 pound centre is a guy who in a lot of ways would look pretty good centering the Oilers’ fourth line right now. Should the team claim him?

Pros

There are definite positives to adding Hall to the roster.

Faceoffs. Hall has won 56.4% of his faceoffs this season, 59.5% of his faceoffs last season, and 55.0% of his draws the year before that. He’s also a right-handed faceoff man, where both Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger are lefties – he would give the Oilers their only reliable right-shooting faceoff taker (right now Sam Gagner’s basically the choice by default in that role, and he’s less than ideal for it).

Penalty killing. Hall has been the Lightning’s most-used penalty-killer in each of the last two seasons, though he’s dropped to second this year. He’s not a guy like Mike Brown, who has been used in the role in the past from time to time – he’s a specialist who gets leaned on heavily in it.

Defensive zone work. Hall’s coaches have not hesitated to use him in his own end of the rink. This year at even-strength, for example, he’s been on the ice for 13 draws in the opposition zone on 5-on-5 – and 98 in his own end. Previous years haven’t been as ludicrous, but they’ve been heavily weighted towards the defensive zone.

Physical game. Hall is big, hits regularly, and drops the gloves once or twice per year.

Versatility. Hall plays both centre and right wing.

Contract. Hall is on a one-year deal that pays him $650,000. He’s dirt cheap, and low-risk.

Cons

There are some negatives, too, some of them associated with the player and some of them associated with the team.

The 50-man list. The Oilers have 51 men under contract, 49 of them on deals that count against the NHL’s 50-contract limit this season. They’re already painfully inflexible, and adding Hall will push them to the limit.

This year’s shot metrics. It’s perhaps unsurprising, given his radically defensive-oriented start, but the Lightning have been getting dominated with Hall on the ice at even-strength. Of interest, here, is the fact that a) in previous years, Hall hasn’t been getting hammered like this and b) it’s a lack of offence, rather than poor defence. Hall’s shots for are very low but his shots against rate is roughly average with the rest of the team. So while this is technically a negative, I’d argue it’s a long way from damning.

Offence. As hinted at in the last point, Hall’s offensive numbers leave much to be desired. He has no goals and four assists in 20 games this season, and had just seven points last year. Interestingly, he has had more success in the past – in a three-year stretch with Nashville he scored he scored 43 goals – but he’s not going to be a guy who drives offensive results.

My Take

Remember back when Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger were hurt and the Oilers were running Chris VandeVelde as their fourth line centre? This is the guy the team should have had in the job. Judging by the fact that he’s on waivers now, he couldn’t have been all that expensive – and inserting an honest-to-goodness faceoff guy, penalty killer and useful hockey player into the centre position would have been a very good idea. The team’s refusal to address the problem and instead do things like ‘play Ryan Smyth in the middle’ and was baffling at the time and baffling in retrospect.

In a perfect world, the team would have traded for this guy a month ago, sending away something small – say a fringe prospect like Alex Plante (or for that matter Chris VandeVelde) for the player. Assuming Hall clears, he will earn $650,000 in the AHL. A guy like Plante earns $65,000; VandeVelde $62,500. Maybe Tampa Bay has some elaborate plan to fetch a better return if Hall clears waivers, but it seems unlikely that there’s a long list of teams lining up to pay a guy six figures to be in the minors.

In a less-than-perfect world, the Oilers would have sent out a contract in a trade yesterday, before the Lightning put Hall on waivers. They really need to move a contract if they want to bring this guy in.

Because of the contract limit, I would understand if the Oilers chose not to make a waiver claim. But based on his history, Adam Hall is a better NHL player than Lennart Petrell, and he fits team need in a way that none of the Oilers’ umpteen wingers do: by playing centre. With all due respect to Ryan Smyth, the Oilers are a better team with him on the wing and actual centre at centre on the fourth line.

This is exactly the kind of guy the Oilers could have used as a 13th or 14th forward while they were out signing Darcy Hordichuk and Lennart Petrell to new contracts this summer. He’s exactly the kind of guy who would have been really handy when the great centre plague of 2013 struck the team. Now, he’s arguably less important, given where the Oilers are in the standings, but he would probably still make them a better team.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 OilerLand
March 15 2013, 11:33AM
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This makes way too much sense to actually happen.

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#2 Mike Krushelnyski
March 15 2013, 11:44AM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

can we IR someone?

or trade Plante for a chocolate milk?

CHOCOLATE milk?! Typical Oilers fan, throwing out ridiculous trade proposals.

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#3 The Beaker
March 15 2013, 11:35AM
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@misfit

It blocks us from being able to trade Smid for Crosby and Malkin.

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#4 Taylor Gang
March 15 2013, 12:45PM
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Boy if I had a nickel for every player we wanted off waivers... Please shut up about claiming players off waivers. It seems every player that's put on waivers we want. Hell, even Dipietro was considered a good idea to us. Has anyone else noticed we have a ridiculous surplus of sh*t bottom 6 players and 3rd pairing defensemen? Jeez look at the big picture, we need impact players, not these hopeless fringe players destined for the A..

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#5 The Beaker
March 15 2013, 11:17AM
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Only if he changes his first name to Ryan

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#6 Romulus' Apotheosis
March 15 2013, 11:39AM
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justDOit wrote:

ICBW, but the only way to get rid of contracts, is to either buy them out (have to wait until summer), or trade them away.

"Hello teams - Hords, Eager and Peckham are available... hello?"

can we IR someone?

or trade Plante for a chocolate milk?

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#7 TigerUnderGlass
March 15 2013, 11:45AM
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@The Beaker

Please. Obtaining Crosby and Malkin would be a terrible idea because we wouldn't have the cap space to re-sign Jones and Whitney to their extensions.

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#8 Ales Hallsky
March 15 2013, 11:17AM
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THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE!!!

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#9 Phixieus666
March 15 2013, 11:56AM
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I vote to claim him all the way. Then they just need to off load a bunch of useless contracts like Eager, hordi, belanger.

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#10 Craig MacTambeloweni
March 15 2013, 12:02PM
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We need to stockpile as many Hallsy's, Shultz's and players with the first name Ryan as we can because it's the key to winning stanley cups

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#11 The Soup Fascist
March 15 2013, 12:13PM
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Steckel to ANA for a minor leaguer and a 7th rounder. Tamby couldn't make that work?

Huge center. Prorated $1.1 UFA. Low risk insurance.

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#12 Will
March 15 2013, 12:26PM
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Zipdot wrote:

YES. Let's double up on Halls.

I completely agree. Then we can play the Hall's with the Schultzs' while 4 on 4 and give the broadcasters fits. I can imagine opposition coaches shouting things like "COVER SHULTZ, WATCH HALL" and the team just being confused.

In all seriousness though, this kind of a tough one as unless we're sending out Belangier, and then planning on putting Petrell, Brown, or Smyth in the press box, there's not much room for this guy.

Like you said, if the Oilers were going to do this, it would have been done by now. I do take some encouragement from this though, and that is that there are ways to upgrade our bottom 6 without having to give too much up.

Big LW with size, retool bottom 6, one top two defender, back up goalie. Get it done Tambi.

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#13 Phixieus666
March 15 2013, 01:28PM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

Well that's your opinion to whether you'd play him. One thing you need to ask yourself is: do you want to get another fourth line caliber, hitting forward that doesn't chip in offensively?

Screw the notion of "grit", it isn't working. You get what you pay for, and our lineup is just as stacked in awful players as it is in young guns. These players are not the answer to our woes. If you want to talk about grit that can actually score then I'm more open to that. What I'm saying is that we obviously don't need these players, why gwt another one?

Belanger isn't much of a hitter and he not all that gritty. He's also small but was supposed to provide at least a little offense. I've rather swap him out with a guy that is bigger, gritty, hits a lot, wins a lot of face offs and provides just as much offense as Belanger has. And there are teams that will be looking for vet center depth like him and the Oilers can move him for a low pick.

Hall would be a gamble of sorts but very low risk. If he doesn't work out you just don't sign him in the off season. These are the sort of risk/rewards scenario's the oilers need to explore at this point.

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#14 justDOit
March 15 2013, 01:30PM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

That was a shot in the dark. Next you're going to tell me 6th and 7th round picks have value because Zetterberg and Datsyuk were drafted in those rounds.

It's more accurate than saying the 6th and 7th rounds of the draft are just full of garbage.

Nobody is arguing that adding impact players isn't the way to go, only that every way to improve a team should be evaluated properly. You garbage analogy breaks down when you assess who is currently on the Oilers 50 contract list - Hords, Eager and Peckham to name a few. I would welcome garbage in comparison.

Please provide a list of all these 'impact players' who are currently available, if you feel that's the only way to go.

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#15 Romulus' Apotheosis
March 15 2013, 01:42PM
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four things others have noted that I want to hi-light.

1. going into this season the depth at C was weak. The fact that we are this late in the day and nothing has been done is criminal. And, at every stage options were available that weren't explored, also criminal.

2. if Hall is available via waivers now, he was available for a pick (a shrewd GM probably could have got him for less than was paid for Brown) when the Cs all decided to die. The team made a decision then to stand pat and throw Lander then Arcobello then VDV then Smyth to the wolves. Grotesque.

3. If a guy like this -- an immediate upgrade on a pivotal position you are weak at -- comes available FOR NOTHING... you don't effing hesitate and evaluate. You make the damn move. There is no way putting in for Volpatti, or giving away the farm for Brown, makes more sense than Hall.

4. A good GM would make the move and then find a way for manipulate the 50 man roster. If they let the 50 man roster work as an excuse that is criminal. Don't tell me they can't find a team with room on the 50 man that will take a Plante with an expiring contract who arrives with a duffle-bag full of cash off our hands. I don't buy it.

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#16 justDOit
March 15 2013, 01:44PM
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@Taylor Gang

I am not an argument, and won't waste any more of my time reading your posts.

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#17 bdiddy18
March 15 2013, 03:16PM
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If Belanger was done for the season then I would see doing this waiver wire pickup.

However Belanger should not be that far away and then he plays 4th Line centre. Smyty goes back to wing.

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#18 Zipdot
March 15 2013, 11:12AM
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YES. Let's double up on Halls.

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#19 justDOit
March 15 2013, 11:17AM
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It's appealing to go after a guy like A Hall, but I think the Oilers are trying to save a contract spot for a US college player.

The Hordi signing is really looking bad right now.

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#20 The Beaker
March 15 2013, 11:18AM
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justDOit wrote:

It's appealing to go after a guy like A Hall, but I think the Oilers are trying to save a contract spot for a US college player.

The Hordi signing is really looking bad right now.

There's no possible way we could somehow free up a contract spot or two?*

*~

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#21 Big Cap
March 15 2013, 11:18AM
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He played 2 years with Horc, the Captain will have some insight on this guy.

Centre, Good Size, Good PK. Lets grab this guy!

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#22 A-Mc
March 15 2013, 11:20AM
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Ya i agree, Contract limits are going to negate any chances of picking this guy up on waivers.

Going into the trade deadline with 50 contracts has to be uncomfortable (Unless management doesn't plan to do a damn thing this year - like last year).

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#23 justDOit
March 15 2013, 11:21AM
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The Beaker wrote:

There's no possible way we could somehow free up a contract spot or two?*

*~

ICBW, but the only way to get rid of contracts, is to either buy them out (have to wait until summer), or trade them away.

"Hello teams - Hords, Eager and Peckham are available... hello?"

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#24 Zipdot
March 15 2013, 11:25AM
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Considering how much dead weight we have in those contracts, it's surprising that somebody isn't getting in trouble for the problem of too many contracts. It could be limiting. Fire someone! :D

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#25 The Beaker
March 15 2013, 11:29AM
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justDOit wrote:

ICBW, but the only way to get rid of contracts, is to either buy them out (have to wait until summer), or trade them away.

"Hello teams - Hords, Eager and Peckham are available... hello?"

Those three are the only players we have who can be traded?*

*~

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#26 Halfwise
March 15 2013, 11:29AM
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Isn't this the reason why the Oilers are not already at 50 contracts? So that when a piece comes available that fits in so many ways, they can pick it up? It's not as if they can carry forward being under the limit by one, and use it next year.

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#28 Mantastic
March 15 2013, 11:31AM
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A. Hall would be a great pick up but man that 50 man contract cap is going to bite us in the ass if we want to sign a college FA. we need to trade away a contract badly, pretty sure Hall will be claimed by someone.

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#29 admiralmark
March 15 2013, 11:32AM
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Boy it sure would be nice if Tambi could pull a 3 for 1 trade anytime in the last year?! This just illustrates how much it is needed to A) Bring back 1 player with more value. and B) Free up contract spots for moves when opportunity arises. I fear as stated no move will be made on this player. But if not now then surely before this summer Oilers should be freeing up more potential space? Opportunities will be there when all the teams having difficulties getting under the lowering Cap start to move players they cant afford.

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#30 Halfwise
March 15 2013, 11:33AM
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And here is a link with his Corsi and Zone Starts from a few years ago, liking Hall to some guy name Brodziak who played in some place called Edmonton. http://gospelofhockey.blogspot.ca/2009/03/outliers-hall-and-nash-i-mean-draper.html

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#31 misfit
March 15 2013, 11:33AM
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Hall will probably get claimed by someone, but I don't think it will be us.

I really don't see the downside. He's a much more usefull player than any of the guys who have been available on waivers so far this year, and he fills a short-term need on this club.

I don't even buy the 50 contract limit thing as a legitimate reason not to. If claiming him doesn't put us over 50, then what's the problem?

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#32 The Beaker
March 15 2013, 11:36AM
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Mantastic wrote:

A. Hall would be a great pick up but man that 50 man contract cap is going to bite us in the ass if we want to sign a college FA. we need to trade away a contract badly, pretty sure Hall will be claimed by someone.

Signing College FA's is really high on the priority list atm? when did this become a big issue?

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#33 justDOit
March 15 2013, 11:41AM
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The Beaker wrote:

Those three are the only players we have who can be traded?*

*~

No, but their usage by RK deems them the most expendable, and therefore they are doing nothing except plugging up the contract limit.

Also, US college free agency has always been quite important, and there are a couple of players who are deemed by some to be 'NHL ready'. Also - Justin Schultz.

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#34 justDOit
March 15 2013, 11:44AM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

can we IR someone?

or trade Plante for a chocolate milk?

We might want to consult some of the lawyers on Lowetide to see if choc milk is in the MoU.

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#35 The Beaker
March 15 2013, 11:45AM
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@justDOit

Justin Schultz was definitely a special situation. And you dont just go out and sign guys because they are NHL ready, they have to be good and fit into the system. If there's someone out there of import then sute but I think the focus should be finding guys who arent rookies anymore unless they are gifted --> Schultz

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#36 justDOit
March 15 2013, 11:46AM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

I'm pretty sure that even Tanya Harding's boyfriend can't help us out of this.

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#37 TigerUnderGlass
March 15 2013, 11:46AM
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justDOit wrote:

We might want to consult some of the lawyers on Lowetide to see if choc milk is in the MoU.

It isn't contemplated specifically but could fit under any number of headings.

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#38 justDOit
March 15 2013, 11:49AM
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@The Beaker

Think of the US college free agents like free draft picks with 3 to 4 years of maturation time. These guys can prove to be very valuable to an organization, but they are not going to come in and turn your team around instantly.

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#39 Romulus' Apotheosis
March 15 2013, 11:54AM
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justDOit wrote:

I'm pretty sure that even Tanya Harding's boyfriend can't help us out of this.

Do IRed players count?

I know they don't to the cap... what about the 50 man?

I'm sure if Boston can offload Thomas to evade these kinds of issues a creative GM would find a way to trade a player like plante plus a hunk of Katz' money to a team with room on the 50 man

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#40 The Beaker
March 15 2013, 11:57AM
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@justDOit

I know, I'm not saying they aren't an important avenue to be pursuing (after all, we just made a huge signing for Howsen to help out here...) just that I'm wondering when this became vogue if you will around these parts. I've read more about college free agents this year than any other I've followed the Oiler's blog circuit. Maybe its just a hangover from signing Schultz but its not like there are going to be players like him every year.

oh and don't mind the sarcasm, its been a long week.

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#41 Ducey
March 15 2013, 11:58AM
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Belanger should be back soon.

Hall doesn't seem to be an upgrade on him. Both have good faceoff % and play in defensive situations and the PK.

Hall has 28 hits and 11 BS in 20 games. He only has 16 shots.

Belanger has 13 hits and 13 BS in 21 games but 29 shots.

I don't think that there was any justification to bring this guy in in the offseason with Belanger and Lander in the fold. I wouldn't think he is worth wasting a contract on now.

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#42 Gerry
March 15 2013, 11:59AM
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Yes PLEASE!!!!

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#43 Phixieus666
March 15 2013, 12:03PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Really good point about him being a college teammate with Horcoff. Missed that.

JW,

If they sign a college player does that contract come into effect immediately or is it a contract for the following season?

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#44 The Beaker
March 15 2013, 12:05PM
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Craig MacTambeloweni wrote:

We need to stockpile as many Hallsy's, Shultz's and players with the first name Ryan as we can because it's the key to winning stanley cups

So Bobby Ryan isnt a trade target?

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#45 Y14EBS
March 15 2013, 12:05PM
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This seems like the just the guy we are looking for, please Mr.Tambeenlayingonthecouchallyear pluck this guy off of waivers.

The 50 man contract thing will works it way out before or on the deadline

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#47 OilFanInYYC
March 15 2013, 12:07PM
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I'm pretty sure Tambellini won't be putting a claim in on Hall. Tambellini already speaks to Yzerman on a daily basis to get encouragement for the rebuild; so he had to know that Hall was on the market. Sorry guys but if he's not good enough for Yzerman there is no way Tambellini is touching him.

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#48 The Beaker
March 15 2013, 12:08PM
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What contracts are coming up at the end of the year that we have down in the minors? And how does that balance out with kids we need to sign to entry level deals this summer? Anyone have that info on hand?

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#49 michael
March 15 2013, 12:10PM
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Watching TSN this morning and they mentioned three of the top NCAA free agents coming out this spring.The dman who is 6'8 from the czech republic sure would look good our blueline.So would the guy who plays Right wing.6'4 225.As much as you would like to sign an Adam Hall it probably would behoove the Oilers not ensure that guys like this aren't off the table first.Guys like Adam Hall come along all the time. If its me looking to trade a contract right now it would be Belanger on my hit list.But in that same breath I am not trading Belanger unless its for a guy with more ugly. A guy who can go to the hard places and look and play alot like Mike Brown.Got enough pansies on this team. At this point I'd rather have struds on my blueline than Potter who is so soft that he makes butter look like iron.fistric and Peckham need to be in this lineup on the bottom pairing.

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#50 Quicksilver ballet
March 15 2013, 12:11PM
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Edmonton needs to be moving bodies out, not bringing bodies in. It would still comform to managements tanking (doing little or nothing) goal though.

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