Hall AND Lucic

With Lucic-mania sweeping the city, we are left
wondering what the Oilers will do with their forwards now. If the team needed to
move one of the $6 million dollar men before the club was linked to Lucic, then
what does it have to do in the event they sign him on July 1st?

As soon as Gene Principe and Curtis Stock reported that
Lucic to Edmonton was as good as done, everyone’s collective gaze went to
Taylor Hall. I would like to think that we are all wondering about Hall’s
future with the Oilers now because after 10 years of total failure we all know
in our hearts that the Oilers, more than any team in the NHL, are capable of
screwing this up.

It is only common sense that the Oilers would try to keep
Taylor Hall at all costs. He’s their second best player, perhaps top three at his position world-wide, he can drive a line on his own, he is signed to a
very reasonable deal, and he’s one of the longest serving Oilers despite still
being a young man. These are all basic facts and when totalled the sum is more
than enough to qualify him as a core member of the team.

An example of a complete and total lack of common sense
would be to see an Oiler team with Lucic inbound and think “well now Taylor
Hall definitely has to go.” This is because Milan Lucic is not as good as Hall,
he’s not as young as Hall, he won’t (likely) add the cap value of Hall, he won’t
be pushing a separate line from McDavid as Hall will. Milan Lucic will not be
Hall’s replacement.

Milan Lucic would be replacing, we believe, Benoit Pouliot
as the presumptive left-winger on the McDavid line. Pouliot had amazing numbers
when paired with the McDavidian One but overall his hourly production and Milan
Lucic’s are very similar. The biggest difference in overall production is that
Lucic has been getting regular top six ice-time for years and he’s remained relatively
healthy. Is that enough to justify potential paying him $2 million more per year
than Pouliot? I don’t see it, but it’s not my money.

This brings us back to Taylor Hall. The fates of Milan Lucic
and Taylor Hall should not be connected in any way, shape, or form. These two
players, as Oilers, exist apart from each other. Edmonton can sign Milan Lucic
and keep Taylor Hall. Actually, that’s exactly what they should do because an
Oiler team that can throw Hall over the boards then immediately throw Lucic
over the boards is significantly better than one that cannot.

They play on separate lines, there are other players than can
be moved to accommodate salary cap concerns, Taylor Hall is the third
best left-winger in the game of Hockey, one simply does not have to come at the
expense of the other.

Really, the only player who ought to be impacted in all this
is Benoit Pouliot, but in the wacky world of fickle sport valuations where
(apparently) Hall can get you a good defenseman, RNH can get you a so-so
defenseman, Eberle can get you absolutely nothing because he’s a useless slug
and a waste of roster space, then Benoit Pouliot and his combination of 5v5
production and possession driving ability is actually a boat anchor hanging
around the neck of Peter Chiarelli and his contract is totally unmovable now.
Thinking Edmonton could dare free up any space in a Pouliot deal is utter
madness.

If Edmonton has come to the conclusion that they need to
trade Hall because they are going to sign Lucic then this management group has
failed Edmonton yet again. Beware this club moving forward even if they get a
decent return for Hall because they aren’t making reasonable decisions and any
positives that come from this are likely coincidental.

The player that actually should be impacting Taylor Hall’s
future in Edmonton shouldn’t be Milan Lucic, it should likely be Jason Demers (they even wear the same number).
As a result of many, many years of complete mismanagement, Edmonton’s defense
is so pathetic on the right side that the club is forced to find reasonable 2nd
pairing options like Jason Demers via free agency. However, they will still
lack a big-minutes top pairing defender to be partnered with Oscar Klefbom.

If the Oilers fill the gap on the second pairing
with Jason Demers on Friday, then it is only reasonable for the club to turn
their sights on a player of significantly higher caliber to play the first
pairing. Acquiring, say, Adam Larsson or Matt Dumba would be just another player in the 2nd pairing role. This new high-end acquisition is going to be done via trade. Then AND ONLY THEN will it make
sense to potentially trade Taylor Hall. If Edmonton has to move Taylor Hall in
order to receive a horse of a defenseman who can play 25 minutes a night, add
in significant offense, man the point on the Power Play, and keep the play
moving forward then it makes sense to make the deal. If that player is not
available then why on Earth would the Oilers trade Taylor Hall?

Milan Lucic and Taylor Hall have absolutely nothing to do
with one another. That is just common sense.