Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli admitted the Edmonton Oilers traded away the best player in today’s Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson deal.
“That’s a fair comment, if you look at just what they’ve accomplished so far in the league,” said Chiarelli. “Larsson doesn’t have the same pedigree yet, but I believe in him a lot. He moves the puck quickly. He’s very smart,” continued Chiarelli.
He must like him a lot to trade the league’s third best left winger, behind Jamie Benn and Alex Ovechkin, and there is no denying Chiarelli took a big risk.
Some call this a Bold move, but I’d rather not use that word considering its past history to the Oilers and transactions. I call it a move of Hope.
Here are my thoughts on the trade.
- I’m not stunned Hall was traded, I sense the organization didn’t like him, which is idiotic, but I’m surprised this was the return. Proven RD are rare commodities, but so are forwards who can drive the play themselves. Larsson has steadily improved, but at this point he isn’t a proven top-pairing defender. He is tracking to be one, but proven and projection are very different at the NHL level. Hall is clearly the better player. Oilers lost this trade.
- Chiarelli is hoping Larsson continues to develop and becomes a steady top-pairing D-man. He will never be flashy, and the best-case scenario I can see would be Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Vlasic doesn’t get a lot of attention, but he’s an excellent defender. And everyone knows the Oilers need D-men who can defend. If Larsson becomes Vlasic Chiarelli will be applauded mightily.
- Vlasic might even be too high of a comparable because Larsson has played a total of 51:40 on the PP over the past four seasons. He plays mainly EV and SH. In 2014/2015 he did manage 24 EV/SH points, which was tied for 27th most among NHL defenders. Vlasic has predominately been a 20-25 point defender, but he has had a 36 and 39-point seasons.
- The most interesting stat I uncovered about Larsson wasn’t even about him. During his rookie season he played 106:45 on the PP. As mentioned above he’s only played 51:40 on PP since. Mark Fayne led the Devils in PP minutes that year playing 123 minutes. The Devils blueline PP options in 2012/2013 were not great.
- Maybe Larsson becomes Niklas Hjarlmarsson. An excellent defender, who only plays EV and SH and doesn’t produce many points. He’d still be a valuable asset. Ask Hawks fans how important Hjalmarsson was on their Cup winning teams? Just remember if he maxes out as Hjalmarsson, don’t be upset at Larsson. He didn’t make the trade. He should not be compared to Hall, even though they were traded for one another.
- Don’t expect many points from Larsson and your chances of being not disappointed will be much better. “He logs a lot of minutes. He can match up against the top players. He has more offence to give,” said Chiarelli. The last line is very true.
122 NHL defensemen have played at least 4000 minutes since 2012-13. Larsson has outscored: Scuderi, N. Schultz, Orpik, Gorges, M. Stuart.
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) June 29, 2016
- Larsson will have a better chance to produce at EV with the Oilers because he’ll be passing to McDavid, Draisaitl, RNH and Eberle. McDavid could get him four or five assists from below the hashmarks in the defensive zone. Larsson does move the puck quickly, and that could be one of his biggest assets to the Oilers. However, very few D-men put up a lot of points in Edmonton with Hall and Eberle producing the 24th and 25th most points in the NHL the past five seasons. You need to have some good offensive instincts to be a point-producing defender. Larsson hasn’t shown much offensive creativity to this point.
- I heard many suggest Chiarelli was trading from a position of weakness because everyone knew he needed a RD. Weren’t the Devils in the same position, looking for a proven offensive player? Chiarelli chose to make this trade, because he recognized the need to improve defensively. It was a risk, but I don’t buy the notion he was the only one in a position of weakness.
- I don’t agree with the suggestion Chiarelli had to address the blueline and because of Connor McDavid and the other forwards sacrificing Hall to improve the D corps was a necessity. It is true they needed to improve the blueline, but this was a very risky move. I’m not sure he had to make it now, but I understand the urgency to improve his blueline instead of doing nothing, but replacing Hall will not be easy. I’d say it will be almost impossible to find a left-winger who can drive a line like Hall.
- Hall can drive his own line. He doesn’t need to play with McDavid to produce points or create scoring chances. Milan Lucic (who we expect will sign a contract on Friday) offers a unique skillset, but he’s not a driver of a line. He’ll likely play with McDavid, and have success, but Hall’s departure means Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will have to drive the second line. Maybe they are ready, but again, that is based on hope, not a guarantee like Hall.
- The Oilers would likely have improved next year even if this trade didn’t happen. A healthy Connor McDavid and Oscar Klefbom will make them much better next year. Adding Jesse Puljujarvi gives them better depth on the RW. Darnell Nurse will be improved and if Brandon Davidson stays healthy all year and plays the same as last season they are automatically better.
- Larsson is in a much better position coming to Edmonton than Hall was six years ago. Larsson will have many more competent players around him. If he just plays to his strengths, and gets sheltered if, or when, needed he should be okay.
- Hall played hard when he was here. He showed up. The organization wanted him to be the saviour, but they never protected him or surrounded him with quality players, especially on the blueline. I still don’t understand those who felt Hall was the problem. Some people just want to blame someone I guess, and instead of pointing the finger at incompetent management they incorrectly pointed to Hall. Hall was devastated when he heard the news. He wanted to be here. He finally saw some light at the end of the dark tunnel, but he’ll have to taste success elsewhere. I expect Hall to have great success in New Jersey. He produced points on a bad team, in a tough conference, and while the Devils aren’t a great team, they have an excellent goalie and they play in a weaker conference. I won’t be surprised to see him in the top-ten in scoring again.
- Chiarelli will need to make some other astute moves to avoid this dealing backfiring on him. I’d be surprised if this trade is ever looked at as even equal, but if Chiarelli makes some other moves and this team becomes a playoff team the deal could be looked at differently by some. I see it purely as a Hope trade. Chiarelli is hoping Larsson becomes the solid top-pairing defender he believes he is. I can appreciate his yearning to improve his blueline, but, man, this was a risky move.
- What stood out most for me in Chiarelli’s presser about the trade was his comment about needing to find a PP D-man. Jason Demers is not that guy. He has 41 career PP points in seven seasons. His career high came in his rookie season when he tallied 11 points on the PP. Does he have another trade up his sleeve? Can he afford to “lose” another trade, and still improve the team?
- Darren Dreger mentioned on radio Lucic might be getting a seven-year deal from the Oilers. Yikes. If you thought people were angry today, wait until Friday if a seven year deal is announced.
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