Should the Edmonton Oilers claim Adam Hall off waivers?

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?

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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.

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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.


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.

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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.

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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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  • Word to the Bird

    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..

    • justDOit

      You’re arguing against using every chance available to upgrade the team? Look at the difference Brown has made to the 4th line – sure he’s not going to clinch a cup or anything, but every chance to upgrade any position should be looked at seriously.

      Nobody advocated claiming DiPietro that I can recall. The talk was, to trade for him (with assets coming to the Oilers for taking the bad contract), and then use Katz’s deep pockets to buy him out.

      • Word to the Bird

        You’re suggesting that Adam Hall (whose numbers are far from impressive) is a guaranteed upgrade to this team. The simple fact is: there’s a reason players get placed on waivers.

        Sure he wins faceoffs. And sure, he hits as well. But these exact things were said about Belanger and Eager. Last time I checked they’re not exactly studs. Why don’t we instead look for players who hit and have a tendency to CHIP IN? The biggest problem with our fourth line has never been about hitting or FO wins, it’s been about absolutely no offense whatsoever.

        Picking a player up off waivers just further crowds this team with, dare I say, garbage players

          • Word to the Bird

            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.

          • justDOit

            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.

          • Word to the Bird

            But by you’re argument, you suggest that Hall is a sure thing; that his destiny is to be better than what we have.

            He is just not what we need. End. Of. Story.

    • I read a lot of comments on the Oilers and I can’t recall one suggesting DiPietro would be a good addition to the team via waivers.

      I’m not saying they weren’t out there, period, but nobody credible made that suggestion.

      Lots of bad players end up on waivers. But you only need to look at Ryan Jones or Rich Peverley(!) to know that sometimes there’s a guy there who can help the team.

      Adam Hall would have been a godsend a month ago. Now he can just help the team. But it would have been nice if they could have pulled off a trade rather than making a waiver claim because of the contract room issues.

      • Word to the Bird

        Could we waive a player to compensate? I am not sure who we have under contract that would be waiver eligible but it looks to me that Hall would be a perfect fit now (not just a month ago). Horcoff is bound to get hurt again and Belenger isn’t playing well enough to warrant a spot on the team. I’d run Hall with Brown and (insert any name from the AHL here). Better than anything we have iced all year.

        • Ryan Jones was a career 28-point player in the NHL when the Oilers claimed him. He was a grinder then, he’s a grinder now, and on a good team wouldn’t get a whiff on a scoring line.

          The biggest issue is whether Hall’s better than what the Oilers have right now. There are at least two guys on the current roster I’d play him over.

          • Word to the Bird

            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?

          • Phixieus666

            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.

          • Phixieus666


            If a team suffers an injury and decides to call about say Eager to fill a hole for cheap. If they acquired him would eager need to clear waivers for them or just the oilers?

          • Oilfred

            To my eye he has lost a step. Just not the same player he once was.

            As we all know the difference between a quality bottom pairing C and a sink whole is marginal when injuries and age catch up.

          • The Soup Fascist

            A German Shepard with one eye and a limp – (answering to the name of “Lucky”) – would be an upgrade over Belanger. Besides being the Belanger triangle – where offense disappears and is never heard from again, I suspect he is not a positive presence in the room. His body language is atrocious.

            Getting rid of Belanger would be addition by subtraction, IMO.

  • Plante, Abney, Hordichuk, VandeVelde.

    The problem is the players we’d want to cast off at this point are likely not wanted by anyone else either.

    Crazy that Tambi didn’t leave himself more contract/roster flexibility in a lockout shortened season where injuries were sure to be a factor.

    Then again, this is the same GM that carried 3 goalies on the big league roster with the GM deathly afraid of losing Jeff DesLauriers to waivers.

    Oil Mgmt mission statement “Why make a decision today you can put off until tomorrow?” Not as inspiring as “To you from failing hands we throw the torch. Be yours to hold it high.” is it?

  • misfit

    With Belanger and possibly Lander back fairly shortly, I don’t know if Hall is that big of a need.

    Of course, not going out and getting a guy like this back when Horcoff and Lander first went down to long term injuries and Belagner was banged up is inexcusable. I know Hall wasn’t on waivers then, but Steckel was just traded for a nobody minor leaguer and a 7th. Surely that type of trade could’ve been made at the time.

  • Minister D-

    The timing on this kind of sucks; if Hall were waived a bit closer to the deadline, the Oilers might have conceivably picked him up in the process of shipping out spare parts like Petrell, Eager, Belanger, etc, most likely with picks coming back the other way. The problem nonetheless remains: should any of our C’s get hurt, we’re right back where we were when Horcoff was injured. I’d say pick him up and try to work something out re: contract limit.

  • Phixieus666

    College FAs and waiver wire players to be had. Good times! I say spend that spot on a College FA. There are some big D-men out there.

    We definitely need some space on that 50 man limit.

    Interesting option, though. Lets see what shakes.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    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.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        A 4th (conditionally a 3rd) is a huge overpay for Brown. In the relative context of moves for marginal 4th liners… yes, they gave away the farm.

        • Y14EBS

          Call it a 4th. Still don’t see it as giving away the farm.

          After round 2, the draft is a crapshoot at best. The odds of a 4th rounder turning out rather than a 5/6/7th rounder are minor.

          Giving away the Farm (OKC)? Yes. The farm? Nah.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            Ok I see the problem now.

            Since when did the cliche “gave away the farm” and its variants demand a literal interpretation?

            It’s just a hyperbolic way of saying you overpaid for something.

            Have you never heard someone use it this way? i.e., without referring to “giving away all or most of their possessions” or some actual “farm”

            ps. the relative success of a 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc. rounder being an NHLer is only one small part of the question. The more important one is what are these picks worth on the market?

            A 4th round pick, conditionally a 3rd, in a deep, deep draft year is worth a lot more than a 4th line grunt.

          • Haha I understand it just fine. It was a double entendre. Literally giving away a future farm team player (ie. Farm) as well as an overpay (lowercase farm).

            In any case, I still disagree it was an overpay, but your point about the market value of the picks
            is fair.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            no worries. I’d rather argue over whether this move makes sense than if my stupid cliche does anyway 🙂

            to me the move represents the kind of mind rot at work in the org.

            first they decide they need toughness on 4th. they sign Petrell, Eager and Hordichuk.

            3 not great hockey players.

            It takes them way too long to realize 2 of those contracts are worthless. They waive Eager and Hordichuk.

            Meanwhile, we have gapping holes at C, D and G.

            Instead of helping out there. ST and KL again decide the 4th line needs toughness.

            They put in a claim on Volpatti. lose
            They don’t put in a claim on Sestito (who is basically the same player).
            They give up a 4th for Brown.

            reminds one of this:


            To me this reeks of

            1) identifying the wrong problems
            2) bungling the very problems they identify

            none of it speaks well of mgt.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      It’s all part of managements tanking plan. Their plan is simple, they want one more lotto pick. Why else would they subscribe to this continued blind eye method?

      Assess, differ,assess,differ,assess and do nothing. There’s definately a plan behind all this inactivity

      • ^ This is why the Oilers don’t pick up Hall.

        This is why we suffer through watching AHL player on an NHL team.

        This is why we come to Oilersnation, because our wives and girlfriends can’t stand our obsessive bitching anymore.

        This is why I think the Oilers might only move a player or two at the deadline, and the player in return wont upgrade the team.

  • I would much rather see a player like this in our lineup then Lander, Petrell, or Vandevelde.

    I would gladly trade Belanger for him if that were an option. Obviously I know it is not. I am sure the management team has already been fielding calls and hopefully has been making some of their own.

    If they feel they could trade away some of our existing contracts (those listed above, or under welming prospects) then I may sign him depending on the coaches thoughts. On a small soft team a guy like this would be a minor improvement over Belanger and a major improvement over the others.

    If he is looking to play him as a winger I would prefer him over Petrell but not over Jones or Hartikainan.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I’d guess the Lightning want to free up a roster spot. Out of the playoffs and Lecavalier hurt. Dropping a contract opens up the more possibilities for adding multiple assets for a Malone, maybe even a trade for Lecavalier. Who knows.

  • Eddie Shore

    So let me get this straight….. He gets alot of d-zone starts and is used mainly in a defensive role but struggles in his own end. Huh? How is this an upgrade?

    • Ducey


      You have:

      Hartikanen (or Jones or Smyth)-Nuge-Ebs
      Brown- Belanger- (Jones,Smyth, Petrell, Hartikanen)

      A. Hall doesn’t add much if anything. Certainly not enough to waste your last contract on him.

  • When each team has to operate under a salary cap limit, a roster limit and a contract limit, you can see how a player can quickly go from being an asset to a liability. That’s why players clear waivers, that’s why players are bought out (even with the cap penalty), and that’s why you can’t even give some players away.

    I like the idea of getting a big checking centre that can win faceoffs, and getting him for free off of waivers makes it even better, but Adam Hall would be a low-value asset on a team over-burdened with too many liabilities (Belanger, Eager, Petrell, Khabibulin, Whitney, Plante, etc.). Looking back, I have to question why management claimed Niko Hovinen off of waivers, but I guess that was before acquiring Brown so the contract situation looked better back then (but still, Hovinen?). With any luck, management can deal one of these guys for a conditional 7th rounder before Hall clears waivers, but I doubt they could find a taker.

    Looking longer term, the Oilers should look at signing a guy like Adam Hall next year. When all of the lottery picks start resigning for $6M per year, we’ll need to find role players making $600K to stay under the cap.