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?

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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  • Y14EBS

    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

  • Craig MacTambeloweni

    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

  • Ducey

    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.

  • misfit

    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?

  • 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.

  • Mantastic

    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.

  • 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.

  • Zipdot

    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! 😀

  • A-Mc

    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).

  • justDOit

    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.

      • justDOit

        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?”

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            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

          • justDOit

            I don’t claim to know all the rules regarding the contract limit, but I’m very sure that injured players count.

            The thing about the Thomas trade that made sense for the Islanders is they needed his cap hit on the books to stay above the cap floor if they made any trades.

            Hords, Eager and Peckham don’t hold that sort of appeal for other teams to take them on, so the Oilers would have to sweeten the deal with picks or something.

          • justDOit

            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.

          • 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

          • justDOit

            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.

          • 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.

          • justDOit

            You’re correct when you say that this is a fairly recent event in NHL circles. With 30 teams scouring the planet in search of prospects, things like the US college FA season are becoming higher profile events.

            I read a quote from Lombardi about how the times are changing for NHL GMs. Roughly paraphrased, he said that it’s no longer worth just trading soon to be UFAs away for picks, and that the trend these days is to try and keep every good player or prospect that you can. Players like Gardiner and J Schultz merely highlight another resource stream for teams who are constantly looking to improve. Cough *TambelHowsTavishLowe* Cough.

    • Phixieus666

      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.