What Happened and What’s Next

Grief

It has been a furious couple of days, OilerNation. So much
has happened that we’ve barely been able to delve into it, but we have to press
forward. The Oilers roster, as different as it is, still is not complete. There’s
at least one player missing on the blue line and it looks like there’s only one
way to get him.

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Before we look ahead, we have to look back to see how we got
here. First a little further back, then to just a few days ago.

Way Back

LandBeforeTime

Once upon a time, just a couple seasons ago, Edmonton
believed it had two right handed defenders on its roster to fill spots on the first
and second pairing. Justin Schultz was supposed to grow into the
offensive defender that would drive play into the attacking zone. Jeff Petry
was supposed to be the all-situations Jack-of-all-Trades type defender who
could move the puck up ice but took on the tougher defensive tasks.

Through a series of unfortunate decision-making errors, the
team alienated Petry then determined he was not worth retaining. A choice had
been made that the club valued Schultz more than him as if somehow it was a “one
or the other” kind of decision. That kind of thinking will make it’s way back
to Edmonton later.

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So Petry was moved, leaving a gap at the 2RD position. But Justin Schultz was still here to drive the top pair.

Sigh.

Well we all know what came next. Justin Schultz failed to
develop further as an offensive defenseman. Worse, his own zone play seemed to
get even worse. He could not be trusted to play in his own zone and since he couldn’t
move the puck he was back there a lot. He produced a grand total of 18 points
last season with his time in Pittsburgh and Edmonton combined.

For me, 18 points is not enough for a top pairing defender. We can
revisit that later too.

So by the end of this season the Oilers were left with gaping
holes on the right side of the defense from the Petry departure (which they
failed to fix for an entire year), and the Schultz meltdown which they had no
choice but to address. Edmonton’s defense was one-third incomplete
and it couldn’t be ignored a moment longer.

Not So Way Back

LastWeek

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So Peter Chiarelli was staring down at a roster with
absolutely nobody capable of playing the right side on the first or second
pairing (sorry, Mark Fayne). He was surrounded by the people that made the
choices in the Way Back section of this article that lead to this roster, and
they were in full-blown panic mode. Every call they made was apparently being rejected because everybody knew the Oilers were in a
position of absolute weakness.

Peter Chiarelli, looking at the buffoons around him, had no
choice but to draw on past experience. What does he know? He knows the Boston
Bruins, Milan Lucic, and how to trade top picks from the 2010 draft for
significantly lesser players.

He met with Milan Lucic and from the second Lucic left that meeting we started hearing various
reports that the deal was as good as done. He was going to be an Oiler. Peter
Chiarelli found his 1LW and his Bruins connection. Finally someone with the
right attitude, size, and skill to move the dial here in Edmonton. He claimed this had nothing to do with what came next but I call BS on that.

What came next was that he made the defining decision of
his Oiler career and what can only be properly described as a completely insane
one. Cementing his legacy as the man who hated 2010, he opted to trade Taylor
Hall, third in 5v5 points per 60 minutes over the last four NHL
season, for Adam Larsson, defensive defenseman who until two years ago was
labelled a bust.

Taylor Hall finished as Edmonton’s leading scorer by a
margin of 14 points over the next highest scoring player, Leon Draisaitl, whose
numbers away from Hall suggest he can thank Taylor for making it to second
place. I can go over all the statistics that show Hall has been the catalyst for
this team’s offense and how competitive the team has been just so long as Hall
has been on the ice, but that’s an article for another day.

Today

You Are here

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Edmonton no longer has Hall. They have Larsson. So a spot
gets filled on the right side of the defense. But which spot? Peter Chiarelli
sells Larsson as a top pairing player, a 25 minute a night blueliner. The only
problem with this valuation is that Larsson lacks the offense you want from a
top pairing defender and he doesn’t play 25 minutes a night.

As far as minutes go, he averaged 22:30 last year and that
was the most he’s ever averaged. In terms of how many times he’s played 25
minutes or more, that happened just 10 times last year. So if Peter Chiarelli managed
to view him personally on one of those nights and assumed he could do it eight more times than his current average, then that’s unnecessarily risky from my
perspective. Projecting a player who has not established a certain ability to
become something he hasn’t even hinted at being is dangerous.

In terms of Larsson’s offense on the top pairing, we weren’t
happy with Schultz, in part, because 18 points is not enough for a big minute
defender. Well, Larsson had 18 points last year too. Last year, 55 defensemen
played at least 60 games and averaged more than 22 minutes a night. Larsson was
ranked 53rd in points per game and 52nd in total points.
His career high is 24 points. Regardless of what Chiarelli wants to sell us, there
is little to suggest Larsson can appropriately fill any offensive component of
a top pairing player.

He’s used to playing tough minutes though. There is no
denying that and Edmonton needs someone who isn’t a joke in his own zone. Larsson will make the team better in its own zone, we are told. 

What Next?

Tomorrow

Edmonton still needs a defenseman who can run the power play
and contribute to the attack. There’s nobody here that has fully established
themselves in that regard. The fancy stats love Klefbom and it looks like he
could be the real deal, but he’s never put in a full year performing at that
level. Expecting Nurse to become Pronger over the summer is too much.

There are no current UFA players that appear to be long term
solutions for offense from the blueline. Edmonton’s defense today is no more
capable of contributing to the offense than it was with a brutal Schultz in the
lineup, though Larsson should be a massive upgrade defensively.

The Oilers have to wade back into the trade market if they
want that player. The rumours as of yesterday were that Barrie was the player
Edmonton wanted to shake loose. That was mentioned by TSN’s Ryan Rishaug and
continued to develop steam throughout the day as Colorado signed defensemen Wierciosh
and Tyutin, then centre Colborne.

If Edmonton wants to add an offensive catalyst like Barrie,
it’s now going to cost them another asset (or two, or three). It’s going to
take Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle and again we are at the mercy of the team
holding the defenseman because the Oilers announced they were going to accept
any deal, no matter how terrible, when they traded Hall for Larsson.

The Avalanche have MacKinnon (team leader in total
faceoffs), Duchene, Soderberg, and Mitchell down the middle, but they really don’t
have anyone outside of a million year old Iginla on the right. Should there be
a deal to make for Barrie, it is possible that a package with Eberle as the
centrepiece could be moving out of Edmonton.

This looks like what is next for the Oilers. Edmonton will
be forced into moving another of their top scorers but this time for a
defenseman that actually fills their needs on the blueline. In order to find a
better balance on the blueline this team likely still needs to keep robbing
from its offense. At this point, I don’t see any other way to move forward.


  • OilBleeds

    Almost every article that ive seen on hockeybuzz and oilersnation which matt writes he seems to be a Hall fan and not an oilers fan always talking about how amazing hall is and what a loss it would be if the team trades him,hall was a cancer to the team and is now gone the team is better now than it was 1 week ago ive never seen a blogger ride a players lap so hard in my life how much did hall pay you? ive been reading blogs since richard cloutier was blogging and he never use to ride any player so hard, hall is gone and its for the good of the team quit the whining.

    • #1 overall waivers pick

      Hall was not a malignant tumor to the team. I don’t know why you believe this nonsense.

      If Hall was such a bad guy, Eric Belanger would of endorsed the trade.

      There is now way that Hall For Larson is one for one. Eric Belanger @belly2020

    • #1 overall waivers pick

      You might be wondering how to tell if you’re in denial of a bad hockey trade. There are actually signs.

      Intolerance of bad news…Hope things will improve when something happens…Minimizing…Absolute Denial

      After the initial shock has worn off, the next stage is usually one of classic denial, where they pretend that the news has not been given. They effectively close their eyes to any evidence and pretend that nothing has happened.

  • What the

    Taylor Hall is a very good hockey player. I will not argue that.

    I did get tired of him coughing the puck up in the neutral zone, or driving into the offensive zone only to swing to the boards before letting a wrist shot go. The other Teams let him do it because he lost his confidence to drive it to the middle. They’ll let him shoot from there all day long because the chance to score is so low. This was coached into him by Eakins to help the Team Corsi, but that’s a different discussion.

    The recently added Lucic said the Oilers did not scare anyone in his TV interview.

    Chiarelli said, “I feel we improved by the style of player we’ve brought in and the approach to the game.””, regarding the Larsson and Lucic deals. Read that for what it says. Why were the Oilers so good on some nights and terrible the next. The Core.

    http://oilers.nhl.com/club/blogpost.htm?id=47081

    There is a reason Hall did not have a C. Perhaps that was a contributor to the Larsson trade.

  • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

    As Reported.

    Draisaitl + 4th OV + Nurse + conditional picks for P.K Subban and the 9th.

    TraderPete

    Hall for Larsson.

    There is no way you shouldn’t make trade 1 at the draft, fills every spot on D you want.

    Conclusion – Trade 1 was too rich for the Oilers leaves me to believe TraderPete was trading Hall no matter what.

  • JackB

    I have some questions for some more knowledgeable persons than me.

    Would making an offer sheet to Tyson Barrie be an viable alternative in trying to get him? (It might not be matched if Coach Roy really doesn’t like him, like it has been suggested?) And giving up draft picks might be better than losing Ebs or R-N-H?

    Just wondering.

  • crabman

    Henderson I’ll start off by saying I usually love your articles and find most of what you say to be on point. But this article is garbage and you cherry pick your stats.
    Saying Larsson was considered a bust until 2 years ago. He is 23 and a big defensman. He was no more a bust than Hedman was in TB. In fact starts and development wise they have a very similer start to their career. And then to compare Larsson to Shultz as top pairing options soley based on points? You’re better than that. Larsson was a +15 on a minus team while getting brutal zone starts and no pp time. He is heads and shoulders better than Shultz and one can assume if he even has a 50% dzone start and time on the ice with players like McDavid and Eberle his point totals will increase. I wish we got a top pp dman for Hall to but to basicly call Larsson nothing more than majic beans is awfully short sighted

  • Botty_Count

    I’m just going to ask this and risk the ridicule and snotty comments – Schenn. Would there be an interest in bringing him in short term if the cost was right?

  • R U Kidding Me!

    Yes Matt, let’s not trade Hall for Larson and finish in 28-30 place again.

    Also, all you ever did was lambaste Tambellini and MacT for not making any bold moves. Now we get a GM with some courage to make changes and you give him sh!t too before we’ve even seen 1 game played by this new look team.

    You need to chill.

    • Zarny

      The thing is…it isn’t a dichotomy of trading Hall or finishing 28th again.

      Other options to trade. Other assets to acquire. Chiarelli made a choice and it was a dumb one.

      • I am Batman

        The Oilers are receiving applications for assistant general manager. Why don’t you apply?

        Oh… You just speak cause you have a mouth, well…. Too bad no one is listening to what you have to say.

        Now stfu.

      • R U Kidding Me!

        How do you know the trade was a dumb one? Can you see into the future? Maybe wait until we see the new team in action before deciding whether the trade made the team better or not which is what’s important.

        Enlighten us on these other trade options that were available too.

    • Turd Furgeson

      Yeah like u said , we havent even sen on egame fomrom new look oilers… Will you eat your hat when they finish 30th next year? Cause last i chexked the team that scores the most goals wins the game, and the way into the playoffs is to in the most games.

      Hall was a point a game player on a valie contract. Larsen up until last year was considered in the same boat as yak.

      Fire chia now before he does more damage

  • Zarny

    Shock? Not really. There were enough Hall out-Lucic in rumors the tea leaves seemed set.

    Anger? Pfft doesn’t even come close to describing it. Not because of trading Hall; no player is indispensable. But because of the disgustingly poor asset management displayed by Chiarelli.

    That’s the type of crap you’d expect from MacT or Benning in Van. Chiarelli doesn’t even think he won the trade. The only justification anyone can give is you have to grossly overpay for D. Talking points and not much more.

    The hockey world is, once again, laughing at the Oilers. And rightfully so. Seguin, Reinhart, Hall…Chiarelli is amassing a solid track record of getting hosed in trades.

    Acceptance lol? Not a chance.

  • Pritchard

    Chia got the BEST deal he could and filled a giant hole in the roster. Adam Larsson is a very good defender with massive upside. He’s still a kid as far as an nhl dmen carrear curve goes.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Henderson
    Your articles are terribly one sided. You have Taylor Hall so highly placed on your pedistil that you refuse to mention his warts. Now days after he is traded away your still moaning his loss.

    Edmonton made a move. Chiarelli though Hall wasnt a part of the solution. And Lucic will be…..I get that. Lucic is a man. A beast. He will become a legend in the next 7 years wearing an Oilers jersey.

    If you had it your way, we would keep all the soft wonder kids, content to suck for another decade and talk about how skilled they were…..

    Great. But 29th place shows they weren’t a good team. Defense costs.
    We get Barrie we probably make the playoffs.

    I personally love what Chiarelli is doing with the Oilers culture. The last 10 years was a culture of losing. The next 10 are the opposite!

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Henderson
    Your articles are terribly one sided. You have Taylor Hall so highly placed on your pedistil that you refuse to mention his warts. Now days after he is traded away your still moaning his loss.

    Edmonton made a move. Chiarelli though Hall wasnt a part of the solution. And Lucic will be…..I get that. Lucic is a man. A beast. He will become a legend in the next 7 years wearing an Oilers jersey.

    If you had it your way, we would keep all the soft wonder kids, content to suck for another decade and talk about how skilled they were…..

    Great. But 29th place shows they weren’t a good team. Defense costs.
    We get Barrie we probably make the playoffs.

    I personally love what Chiarelli is doing with the Oilers culture. The last 10 years was a culture of losing. The next 10 are the opposite!

  • Pritchard

    I think alot of people miss the point that Larsson was valued so highly in NJ that it was going to take a player as talented as Hall to pry him away from the Devils.

  • braddos

    “Edmonton will be forced into moving another of their top scorers but this time for a defenseman that actually fills their needs on the blueline. In order to find a better balance on the blueline this team likely still needs to keep robbing from its offense. At this point, I don’t see any other way to move forward.” – Matt Henderson

    News flash we have been in that situation for about 4 years now. There is obviously a reason Hall was the guy moved. Larsson has the potentiel very few in the league have. Was I really excited about the trade when I first heard? Definitely not. But Hall also seemed to be our PK Subban with older and former oiler players being quoted as saying the locker room had serious issues and Taylor always being involved. Lets also remember that Charelli was the GM in Boston when they landed Chara. Maybe long term this is the best for the team. We certainly didn’t need more standing pat from fear of looking bad in a trade.

  • Free Bird

    Another attempt at a shallow crowd-pleaser article. Total over-dramatization of the Petry situation and the Hall overpayment.

    Yes, Chiarelli overpaid; he discussed this at length at the post-trade press conference. The price to be paid for a young up-and-coming right-handed defenceman was steep, and he made the decision to pay it. The team got better by the end of all the moves considering that wingers can be partially replaced via the UFA market. I bet Colorado is hesitant on trading Barrie for Eberle because guys like Versteeg are still out there. Whether it’s Lucic+Larsson for Hall, or Barrie+Versteeg for Eberle, the drop-off at a peripheral position like winger is well worth the huge upgrade at RHD. Other posters already covered the reasons why Larsson’s production in NJ is understated.

    So you say Hall is “elite” based on his scoring per 60 over the past x seasons? If he was so elite then why wasn’t he selected for Sochi or for the World Cup? Do you think you’re smarter than the managers at Hockey Canada too? There’s more to hockey than just scoring, and if you ever learn to incorporate other elements of the game into your judgement of a player, then your articles might make more sense. But then… those articles wouldn’t be crowd-pleasers for OilersNation now would they?

  • NealH

    While I’ve appreciated your points in most of the articles you’ve written, this one is off base. Yes, the buffoons were there historically. They aren’t now. But Chiarelli is the one cleaning up the mess.

    He lost a trade to improve the team. There’s no doubt about that. He basically said it himself. He’s changing the team from losers into one that can compete, using the tools at his disposal and the (lack of) availability in the market.

    It’s what we’ve all wanted for years…

  • BubbaZanetti

    Does one who writes “blogs” or who call’s thyself a “blogger” instantly become an expert in the “blog” he chooses to “blog” about ?

    Can I start a “blog” ?

    What’s it like to be a “blogger” ?

    It’s fun to say “blog”

    Why are “bloggers” so much smarter than everyone else ? ( Is there a secret school they attend )

    Do “bloggers” know who killed Kennedy ?

    Are “bloggers” actually highly evolved, super intelligent beings from another universe sent here to save us ?

    I wish I was a “blogger” ????

  • Oilerchild77

    Well, from where I sit, Hall wasn’t righting the ship here anyway. Now, was that all his fault? No. It was mostly due to the worst blue-line and goaltending in the league (until they got Talbot that is). However, for as many scoring chances Hall made with his incredible skills, he also gave a lot to the other team by turning over the puck on the fly in the neutral zone, which is the worst place to turn it over. This is because Hall puck hogs too much. Don’t get me wrong, I liked watching Hall play, but JEEEESUUUS he hogged that puck a lot, and absolutely refused to dump it in when he should.

    The only way they were going get a dman like this is through this type of deal. Right shot defenders who are solid in their own end are probably the most valuable commodity in hockey today, so we should consider that fact.

    And for those who are pissed about what they got, would you prefer they traded Hall for Shattenkirk!? Because that was apparently what the Blues were asking for. That guy is a second pairing Dman at best and has one year left until he’s a UFA and it is reported he does not want to sign in the west. Or maybe you prefer they traded Draisaitl, the 4th, Klefbom, and Nurse like the Canadiens wanted!? No thank you. Now THAT would have been an insane trade.

    Now, did they win this trade? NO. Of course not. They lost it today. But let’s wait a year and see. Because, if Larsson scores 30+ points, has a +15 or higher rating, and averages 24+ minutes, then I wouldn’t call this trade a loss at all. But, he hasn’t done these things yet, so we wait…

  • M22

    Keep this in mind, people, as you debate the merits of a balanced roster vs raw statistics: this website also needs balance, hence the attention-grabbing graphic at the top about grief. There have been several feel-good articles written recently here, and a sky-is-falling one was overdue. Henderson’s a pretty decent read most times, but this is fan-boy fluff. It’s cherry-picking at its finest, and designed to stir emotions, and prompt input from us. Gotta keep up the chatter. So, job well done on that front, Matt.

    Second point: many people look at numbers, and find their story. This is very short-sighted. Hall’s numbers were never the problem here. He’s not a leader, period. Huge difference being a leader and a point-leader. Did we get equal value? Depends on how you define value, doesn’t it. Taylor Hall is to NHL managers, as the Canadian dollar is to Americans.

    This deal CHANGES the team, drastically! There is absolutely no question who the leader is now. Connor no longer has to respectfully bow to the veteran, and friend, Taylor Hall. Chiarelli, in one move, created MUCH-needed balance, and made it possible for McDavid to comfortably assume the position as THE leader. There was no room, or need, for Taylor any longer.

  • he shoots he scars

    By my count, since Chiarelli arrived, roster turnover. INCOMING, Kassian, Cam Talbot, Maroon, Reinhart, Adam Larsson + draft pick in round 1, two picks round 3, one round 4. Free agents INCOMING Sekera, Letestu, Lucic. New coaches. Players OUTGOING, Aulie, Fasth, Acton, Arcobello, Gadzic, Boyd Gordon, Hall, Marincin, Nikitin, Peron, Purcell, Shultz, Scrivens, Anders Nilsson + picks one round 1, two round 2,and 3,4 and 6 rounders. Gryba is still a possibility to resign imo. I’m excluding waiver wire players who came for nothing and left for nothing. Korpikoski came in the Gordon trade and left with buyout $$ against the cap. Now five contracts with some no trade clause where there was one when he arrived. 6 or 7 of the 14 who were traded or let go are no longer NHLers.

  • @S_2_H

    We get it, you don’t like Chiarelli and you think you’d be a way better GM.

    If you want to pretend to be a sportswriter then please try to write with a little more objectivity and a little less bias from your obvious Taylor Hall man crush. Oh and maybe wait and judge the recent moves on how they turn out, not on how you think they might turn out. Brutal, arrogant article.

  • HockeyRulz

    so I took I while to come to terms with this trade.

    I started to look up Adam Larsson’s stats, reading articles and now I am okay with this trade. As long as what I am envisioning will happen…

    So Adam seems to be there #1 D. Everyone talks about Green, but stats wise adam pretty much seems better than Green. He is good size, can skate and has a decent shot.

    It seems like NJ used him as a number one shutdown D. And for that reason they kept him off the PP. Yet when he was younger he was known for how good he was on the PP. So I have a feeling on this team we will see more than just 11 mins on the PP for this kid. Then we will see what he can really do within our PP. I think he will be good. (is there anyone else you would put instead of him for the RD?) As well the Offence for NJ was as bad as it gets.. so that would limit any good D on getting points. Now with the oil he is passing puck to a much more offensive team (even with out Hall.. still have Connor, Dri, RNH, Ebs… much better) so I think he will double his points with the oilers so now we are talking 36 points? that is good for me…

    As well to have only 30% draws in the offensive Zone, only 11 PP mins, and be the number one for PK, and have a +15 with 18 points on a team that can’t score? that to me is very impressive. This kid can play D!

    so then how will he be on a team which can score, get way more PP mins and now provide that #1 RHD which can shut down most of the big players in the league? AS well everyone talks (from the NJ board) how he is very good at moving the puck. If he can spring out Connor on the move… then I am ready to start making my pop corn.

    So in the end I think we might of gave up a lot for this kid but really.. he is going to fill a huge whole in this team… huge hole. Now we have a 1-2 punch D which both talk the same language and can log some large minutes and takes pressure off of our new up coming D… this is all good.

    I am thinking by the end of the year (and true hoping) we will all be thanking Chi for what he envisioned. Scary now but with the numbers i am reading this kid is actually really really good. I fully believe this kids last year turned into a #1 D, and the stats prove it.