WWYDW(FE): The Taylor Hall Redemption Tour

As Robin Brownlee wrote yesterday, there’s a rumour going around that Taylor Hall might be open to a reunion with the Edmonton Oilers. Everyone knows that “Tracy Lane” and “her” “source” “Garfield” are questionable at best, but let’s talk about whether or not a Taylor Hall Redemption Tour makes any sense.

After winning back-to-back Memorial Cup MVPs with the Windsor Spitfires, Hall and his fiery style of play were expected to be the saviour of a franchise in disarray. In 2010, Hall became the first-ever Oiler to be selected with the first-overall pick, and thus, he became the face of Edmonton’s Oil Change. 

The expectations on Hall’s shoulders were massive. Though he very quickly became the team’s best player, the Oilers continued to struggle due to an imbalanced roster devoid of quality depth and veterans, a capable blueline, and a legitimate goaltender. So while Hall became a very good player, he was never able to singlehandedly push the Oilers to the next level.

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In 2014-15, the Oilers slogged through a miserable 24-win season thanks partially to Hall missing 29 games due to various injuries. That injury might have been a blessing in disguise. The Oilers finished with the third-best lottery odds at the Connor McDavid sweepstakes and ended up winning the Golden Ticket. With McDavid in the fold, the saviour of the franchise torch was immediately passed from Hall to the prodigy.

The 2015-16 season was an unfortunate one. McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and Oscar Klefbom missed significant time due to injury and the Oilers finished well outside of the playoffs with just 70 points. In the off-season, Peter Chiarelli pulled the trigger on a deal that would send Hall to New Jersey in exchange for Adam Larsson.

While the Oilers needed to shore up their blueline with a steady, right-handed defender, this was a massive price to pay. Everything worked out for the Oilers in 2016-17 and the team made the playoffs for the first time in a decade while Hall scored just 53 points on a bad Devils team. The following year, everything went wrong for the Oilers while Hall singlehandedly pulled the Devils to the playoffs with an MVP-winning 93-point season.

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It’s been beaten to death at this point, but it’s difficult not to wonder what if. What if Peter Chiarelli didn’t stroll in and jettison Hall to fill another hole on the roster? Would he and McDavid co-exist as linemates? Would they make one of the league’s best one-two punches on separate lines?

The frustrating thing about Hall being traded is that we never got to see him and McDavid play together for an extended time. Thanks to McDavid’s injury, he and Hall only played 75:58 together at even strength during the 2015-16 season. Hall’s most common linemate that season was Leon Draisaitl. The duo posted a 51.85 Goals For percentage together and finished first and second on the team in scoring.

That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday FRIDAY EDITION question. Would you be in favour of a Taylor Hall return to the Oilers? Could he and McDavid form a dynamic one-two punch, giving the Oilers the two elite offensive lines they so desperately covet? Or is it time to move on from the Hall talk forever?

Hall will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season for the first time in his career as the seven-year deal he signed with the Oilers back in 2012 comes to an end. Hall could re-up with the Devils, who seem to be turning things around after drafting Jack Hughes and trading for P.K. Subban this off-season. Of course, he could want to come back to Edmonton and prove wrong those who said the Oilers were better off without him. Who knows!

The Oilers cap picture becomes a lot less crowded over the next couple of years. In 2020, Sam Gagner, Kyle Brodziak, and Brandon Manning will come off the books. In 2021, Kris Russell, Nugent-Hopkins, and Adam Larsson will be eligible for free agency. A buyout of James Neal would shrink his cap hit from $5.75 million to just $1,916,667.

There’s room to get a deal done even if it comes with a cap hit around $9-$10 million annually. That said, is it prudent to invest so much cash in a guy with an injury history who would be turning 29 during his first season with the team? I wouldn’t expect Hall to fall off a cliff like Milan Lucic did because Hall is a significantly better player, but there had always been a concern that Hall’s bombastic style of play would result in his NHL career being cut short.

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What say you, Nation? Should the Oilers pursue a Taylor Hall Redemption Tour? 

  • Bond 0097

    Hall was a poor team mate, there was no love lost when he left and he won’t be coming back. We just managed to stiff Cowtown with Lucy, an overpaid vet in the swan song of his career, we have already seen the best of Taylor Hall no need to repeat the Lucy debacle with him. STAY AWAY PLEASE

  • Hemmercules

    I believe Hall had terrible attitude in Edmonton and that trade woke him up. I still don’t think his attitude is great. I also don’t think we would have seen an MVP quality performance from him in Edmonton like he had in Jersey.

    It would be hard for Holland to build a competitive enough roster if he’s paying 3 guys a total of $30 million+ unless the cap takes a nice jump by next summer. Hall will be looking for max term and dollars and I’m not so sure paying him $10+ mil when he’s 35-37 years old is a good bet. He’s injured almost every year too and that doesn’t usually improve as you get older in a contact sport.

    • 99bestever

      Hall was young when he was here. He wasn’t the only one partying. The whole team was. You are right, players always learn a lesson in maturity when they are traded and get older and settle down. It would be a better Hall if he came back both in maturity, leadership and playing ability. Your physical playing talent doesn’t fall off a cliff when you turn 29 or 30. Oilers will need good mature players to lead the kids coming up to keep ELC’s in the mix to stay cap competitive and Hall would be a good addition for this role should the Oilers be so lucky as to have him consider the Oilers next summer.

  • Gravis82

    If Hall wants to come back and take a bit less money to try to win a cup in this city even after we unceremoniously traded him when he didn’t want to be traded and 1/2 the fan base had already turned on him (and honestly that 1/2 will never come around), what does that say about his character problems?

  • OriginalPouzar

    I would LOVE to have Taylor Hall back on the Oilers – a wonderful hockey player that drives possession.

    I also have zero interest in a contract that would pay Hall $10M plus for his declining 30s.

    If the Oilers were a contending team, perhaps renting Hall for one year for a Cup push could/would make sense, however, such an acquisition makes no sense for the Oilers if there is no intent to re-sign and, well, there shouldn’t be.

    Not trading for him and signing him next off-season also makes no sense to me as he’ll be 29 when his 7 year contract kicks in and I am not in favor of paying players for their declining 30s – in particular players where there is a very good argument that the regression will be steep and there is high injury risk.

    Lets not even get in to the cap space implications.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      Lots of teams would love to have Hall and I am sure the Oilers would, but I dont see it happening, Hall would be making close to Drai money in a new contract if not more and the Oilers would have to move a significant contract and a couple other to fit Hall in and have cap space and I do not see that happening. I dont think Hall would come back to the Oilers I think he will be looking to try and get a home run in a contract but to get somewhere that has a chance to win sooner rather than later. if Hall come back to Canada I would think maybe the Habs, Leafs have no room, Sens could do it, but they would have to want to spend the money and they dont look willing to do that at this stage.

      My guess Hall signs with maybe Columbus or someone that has cap space and needs someone to build around and with if NJ doesnt sign him, I think Hall would like to stay in NJ but I dont know if they can manage the cap hit unless they do the contract different were it is front loaded or bonuses somehow. But I doubt the Oilers would have serious interest in trying to make this work

    • McDude

      I agree with pretty much everything you said. Would love to have him back, but not at the price he’d command. One thing that gets forgotten when mentioning the cap flexibility, is the team can’t just throw all that money at one player. They have to replace them all, as several are regulars who play a lot of minutes. There will be talk about kids coming up and filling those spots, and in a perfect world that may work. But it rarely does in the real world.

      • Gravis82

        why would you not want him back at near the price he would command? The price he commands is about what he is worth. We will never win anything if we refuse to sign good players at what they are worth but happily sign bad players to undeserving contacts. Predicting which direction they player you sign will go after you sign them, is the job of the GM and his analytics staff.

        • OriginalPouzar

          It may or may not be what he’s worth at the time he signs, however, the contract will be paying him for his declining years and will likely not be value for much of its term.

        • crabman

          The problem with paying Hall at the rare he could command in FA, $10Mish?, is they are already paying their 2 best forwards $21M. If the Oilers already had a very good goalie on a decent deal and a Stanley cup caliber defence with some very good ELC forwards, paying Hall wouldn’t be as big of an issue. He is probably good value for at least 3 years maybe more, barring a career altering injury. By the time he is being over paid significantly hopefully the team would have had 3 or 4 deep playoff runs with a cup or 2 to show for it.
          But the position the Oilers are in now paying Hall $10M makes no sense. They are not cup contenders and have so many holes in the lineup to go along with their dead money I don’t think they can afford Hall and still fix the rest of the lineup. Top all that with his injury history. Hall has played right around 80% of his trams games over 9 years. So that prorates to 65 games a season average. He scores at a very good .91 pts/g. Unfortunately that averages out to a 60 point/year guy and too big of a risk for a team that isn’t in their window to push for a cup.

      • CalOil

        Move on Edmonton, this guy has not moved the needle on any pro team he has played on. People inside hockey consistently pass him over for our national teams, he is injured every year. Why does his team keep ending up in the lottery? At some point you have to win or you are Mats Sundin.

      • 99bestever

        Yes. If the money and term is right bring him back. He never should have left in the first place. Can you imagine Conner and Drai line one and Nuge and Hall driving line 2? If you do this, with the upgrades coming from the youngsters in the Bake, this team will win the west and be a contender for at least 3 years for the cup.

  • Synthesis

    The fact Taylor Hall won the MVP award is more indicative of the incompetence of hockey writers than an affirmation of his skill. Nate Mac or McJetpack had him beat 9 ways to Sunday. But. Well. Errrrm. The black hole of intellect struck, yet again.
    Good player who has matured a lot since leaving Edmonton. Still needs a map to find his own end of the rink but his competitiveness has advanced substantially which contributes to his success. So so many leg injuries is a big concern for anyone pondering a big buck/long term deal. He might live up to it but its a high risk proposition. Luckily for Tay Tay the only bastion of intellect dumber than sports writers is NHL management. Back up the Brinks truck Taylor, you gonna get PAID. Spend it wisely.