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? 

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • toprightcorner

    The Oilers cannot afford to resign Hall. He is not worth $10 mill, but that is what he will get. So what, you trade Nuge to afford Hall, move Draisaitl to 2C and then Hall plays with McDavid and Draisaitl has no linemates? What about resigning Nurse? Have to resign Jones next year, so thats an increase. Benson will have to be resigned in 2 years, Bouchard in 3 years, How are the Oilers supposed to keep their depth when you have over $30 mill going to 3 players?

    It will cost the Oilers too much in limiting every other part of the roster that it makes no sense.

      • crabman

        Everyone in their right minds would choose Hall over Russell and Neal but that is easier said than done. Russell will only have 1 year left on his deal at the end of next year but there is still no gaurentee we will be able to move him without taking money back or retaining salary. And unless Neal has a really significant bounce back season his contract will still be hard to move next year. Let me put it this way, you are a team with $10M cap space. Do you trade for Neal and sign a similar player to Russell for $4M or do you go out and sign Hall for $10M? I’m sure most teams have a combination of cap space and bad contracts that they would prefer to use on Hall instead. It isn’t as easy as remove those 2 and add Hall.

  • 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

  • OilFarmer

    If it comes down to losing Nuge so you could get Hall. I wouldn’t do that deal ever.
    I can’t see how you would be able to fit both players in under the cap

    • Gravis82

      why do we automatically assume to have to replace a good players. Russel and neal together are Hall’s salary. Hall is much more likely to produce value over his 10million dollar contract that those 2 are over the next 5 years, and we we are fine with Russel/Neal but not Hall. There are other ways to save money. You spend your money on first line players and dont waste it on bad bets on the other lines.

      • OilFarmer

        Also who is taking on those contracts? We only have the Neal contract because of the swapping of terrible contracts. You don’t just drop a contract and get all the cap space back unless you are giving up picks and prospects

        • Gravis82

          I repeat, you get rid of all the bad contracts we are dragging around and you can get creative and find a way to include everyone. Would you take hall at 6 million? Funny, seems like everyone said he was overpaid when he was here.

          • Hemmercules

            Who was saying he was overpaid at 6 mil? You are thinking of Eberle.

            The point is, you get Hall for 2 to maybe 4 solid years but then you are paying for declining Hall for the rest. Maybe they win a cup before he becomes an albatross but still a gamble in my eyes.

            I don’t think anyone would scoff at bringing Hall back if the dollars and term were reasonable. That boy is headed to free agency next summer where 4+ teams will be tossing crazy money at him for max term and he will get to choose (unless of course New Jersey does it before anyone else gets the chance).

  • ed from edmonton

    The question for the Oil, or any other team considering offering a contract to Hall is what he is likely to produce over the term of the contract. Hall had had one MVP year and a mixture of excellent to disappointing years. His career averages are 0.91 ppg and 65 games played per year (excluding the lock out shortened year). If you were a GM how would you value him? If it came down to say signing Hall or extending Nuge what would you do?

  • ziyan94

    The main priority should be to secure Nurse and Nuge’s next deal, then see how much Holland has left to work with.

    I doubt Hall will leave NJ now that they have strengthened so much, but bringing him back to Edmonton would clearly improve our offense so it should be considered.

  • Schmidt Head

    Would he even want to come back?

    But seriously, I wish this team (and its fans) would stop living in the past and constantly wondering “what mighta been.”

    It was a dumb thing to do to make the trade we did but it’s over, it’s done, it’s in the past! We can’t go back and redo it and we’re never going to know “what if” because the 2020 Taylor Hall is not the 2010 Taylor Hall.

    Yes, there is a price point where anyone makes sense (theoretically) but that’s dependent on a lot of other factors falling into place as well. If we could get him on a reasonable term for a fair price, and if he wanted to come back, go ahead but don’t waste a lot of time wondering and wishing.

    The future is the kids and how well we develop them and how much we can get out of them in their best years. Let’s concentrate our energies there and quit living in the past.

  • The Rookie

    A lot of near sighted comments about $10M at the age of 37 but realistically it’s not a problem because any contract would be structure with actual $ being more early on and less in the later years. Which means if Hall at 36 or 37 doesn’t look good on a 9 or 10 Mill cap hit, there are always the basement teams that would like to have a hit like that with actual dollars being prob around 6 mill by that time. I don’t have a prob with a Hall return except for potential acquisition costs. New Jersey is swapping Hall for Russell and Gagner.

    • Gravis82

      I agree. People get so hung up on one player making all the money, but are fine with 2 players who barely add over AHL replacement level getting paid about 3 million too much each

    • Hemmercules

      I hear this suggestion a lot. Just dump him on a team for nothing when his game declines so that team can get to the cap floor. How often does this actually happen in the current NHL? The way it seems now, to get rid of a terrible contract you have to either send some nice picks or players along with the garbage contract or take garbage back in return. Bad asset management. I didn’t see a bunch of cap floor teams lining up to take Lucic and Neal of Alberta’s hands and those guys make half what Hall will be making. Lucic even had the majority of his money paid out already.

  • TKB2677

    Is this seriously becoming a thing? Eklund and Tracy Lane come up with a fake rumor and now Oilers bloggers feel compelled to write about it.

    First of all, saying it would be good for the Oilers to get Hall is a no brainer. Of course it would be good. He’s a very good player. Every team in the NHL could use Hall. So I expect there would be a lot of interest if he is a UFA.

    When it comes to any free agent. While they all say they want to win and I am sure that plays into their decision to some degree as to where they sign, it’s all about the money. Tavares wanted to “win” and he dreamed of playing for his hometown team. Did Tavares give the Leafs a discount? At 11 mill, no freaking chance. When he signed his contract, he was the second highest paid player in the league. Is he the second best player in the league? No way. Now with Panarin, Matthews and Karlsson contracts on the books, Tavares is now the 5th highest paid player in the league. Is he the 5th best player in the league? Hell no. I don’t even know if he is top 20.

    When it comes to Hall, while he will want to win, he’s not taking much of a discount if at all. This is his last chance to get that big, long term contract. He will want to cash in which I don’t blame him one bit. If Hall was willing to sign a shorter team deal for decent but not over the top money, then I would be all over it. I want no part of signing a close to 30 yr old to a 7 yr deal at 10+ mill like he probably gets.

    • Gravis82

      So who else would you pay over the next 7 years that would equal Halls production but for 5 million a season? Is that player available? Look at our goals for. we are missing the production of an entire 1st line player. This is what they cost.

        • Hemmercules

          Where are you getting that number? 5 mil for 7 years, 60-80 points? I cant see where anyone suggested that was possible?

          There is plenty of players in the league that make between 5 and 8 mil getting those points though. Those Gm’s were fortunate enough to sign those guys at the right time. Problem is, Hall is going to get at least $11 a year if JT does in Toronto.

          • Gravis82

            ok, 10 million is too much. 5 million is not enough. So lets say 7 million. Who are you going to pay for 7 million for 7 years to get you 65-80 points? Should you take hall at 10mill and get the points in the bag ? Or just say he is too expensive and not find anyone to score those points for you?

      • Hemmercules

        You get two good players for 5.5 mil each instead and fill out your team while staying under the cap. Hall can barely play out a full season most years without getting a surgery. Is his production and health going to be what it is now in years 4, 5, 6 & 7 of that contract? I doubt it.

      • TKB2677

        There isn’t. That is why you don’t go out and give massive money to aging players. That is why you see teams willing to sign up younger players to these massive deals. The Oilers are paying McDavid and Leon big money for what they are GOING to do vs what they did in the past. Hall is a very good player and has been for a while now. But as he approaches 30 and the years after 30, it’s most likely that he won’t match is production because his prime years are done. The chances of The Leafs as an example getting the kind of production they got from Tavares last season over his entire contract are probably next to none. He had a great year last year, he could have a real good year this year but it’s most likely he will slowly decline over the career and be grossly overpaid very soon.

        The same will most likely happen to Hall.

    • Redbird62

      Tavares if fact did give the Leafs a home town discount. He was offered $13 million a season by San Jose and others. Its not about whether Tavares is better than players making less than him, its about what teams are willing to pay him. The market for Tavares was set at $13 million, and he chose to sign for $11 million to be with the Leafs. Stamkos would have gotten way higher offers if he’d gone to free agency in 2016 (particularly from the Leafs ironically) but resigned with Tampa just before the deadline for a considerably lower amount that can only be partially explained by tax savings. Even Crosby’s 3rd deal with Pittsburgh was probably lower than he could have negotiated. Tom Brady is the classic example of a player willing to take a discount. None of this means Hall would give anyone a discount, but some big name athletes do.

        • Redbird62

          Again the point is 18 quarterbacks make way more than Brady many of them chose not to take less than full market value. Most pro athletes would play for a fraction of what they get paid if that was all that was available, does not change the reality that some elite athletes willingly accept less than full market value for their services.

        • Gravis82

          taylor hall is not injured often. He is not injured very infrequently. Hall displays just a slighly below average games played amount for an NHL player, and likely above average considering minutes played. He is not an iron man, but he is about average in this regard. This is why he is going to get 9 million instead of 12 million. Had he been playing 10 more games a season the last 9 years he would be top 15 in scoring in the entire NHL over that time and would be commanding a lot more.

  • OilCan2

    Hall back in Oilers silks? NOT HAPPENING. Gads an August full moon sure brings out the crazies. Here’s an idea: let’s all go golfing and talk about the young up and coming Oilers who will be providing value and depth in the next year or two.

  • puckle-head

    I agree with the general consensus here. As much as I’d love to see Hall in Oiler silks again along side McDavid, I can’t see how we would acquire him for a reasonable price. The only way I see this happening was if we managed to get hall to agree to a 5 year deal rather than a 7 year (which he could demand) and the we traded rnh for picks and futures to clear up cap space. Neither of those scenarios seem likely

  • Kevwan

    Hall coming back to the Oilers? About as likely as Lucic getting traded to the flamers.

    I don’t know who Garfield or Tracey Lane are but Stauffer talking about it gives it credence.

    I love the fact that Holland is considering all options in his attempt to improve the team.

  • CMG30

    I’d love to see Hall come back to the Oilers. He is a guy who puts up points and drives the play. He also engenders a ton of irrational hate from a certain vocal segment of the fanbase, but that’s a separate issue. All that being said, the list of reasons why he’ll never be back are as long as my arm.

  • RJ

    I’m all for players making what they can earn. If they could make it fit, then another game-breaker would be awesome.

    The biggest stipulation for me is the need for more puck-moving defencemen. It would have been great to see someone hit Hall or McD in full stride on a regular basis to break down opposing traps.

  • billsbills

    No thanks. Unless he’s coming in at the same $6 million price tag. He was never as good as Draisaitl and if you think he will come here to play second line left wing with Nuge, I doubt it.

    I was a huge TH fan and I still live his style of play. But he’s not durable enough. He’s played one 82 game schedule, in his entire career. Injured players are just dead cap space and holes in the roster.

    It’s the reason I expect to see Nurse pass Klefbom on the depth chart this season. Klefbom is not built for the 82 game marathon that is the NHL regular season. Hopefully they can sell high on him and get some depth on the wings.

  • Heschultzhescores

    It’s not happening, the $$$$’s make no sense. Let’s live in reality and talk about something that may actually get us closer to winning a cup.

  • Heschultzhescores

    It’s not happening, the $$$$’s make no sense. Let’s live in reality and talk about something that may actually get us closer to winning a cup.

  • Honestly, this dude had this huge painting of hall giving Connor a goal hug and I almost started crying it was so beautiful. Gretzky messier? Drai is Kurri obvs… think about it. Bouchard can be coffee and everything.

    • Pipe dream I know but it’d be crazy if ken holland could just be the antidote to chiaitus… maybe he could trade manning for barzal too! Maybe he can even help me get back with my ex!!

    • Gravis82

      Hall is worth 10 million a year to the oilers. The second line is immediately very very dangerous. Hall, who has played 1st pairing D man all his career will now get 2nd pairing D men and 2nd tier defensive forwards. This will attenuate the impact of defensive foilbles and maximize his offense. He would go supernova on Edmontons second line behind Draisaitl and McDavid. McDavid and Drai, Hall and Nuge for the next 7 years. Each locked up in their prime. Each year that the cap goes up the relative cost of those contracts goes down.

      • billsbills

        I seriously don’t understand your reasoning. In his last contract, he was worth the value of his contract twice. Maybe 3 times if he can stay healthy and doesn’t bomb next year. You know, like he did his first year with NJ.

        $10 million is a joke for a bandaid.

  • slats-west

    Halls talent is a 9/10 …..his hockey IQ, character, and his on ice player dev skills (make other players better) is 2/10. I still point to his World Championships record – not too many coaches want this guy. With a team that will have a lot of young speedy pros that need fundamental hockey plays – Hall is not the answer.

    Good summer time article. Now let’s move along people nothing to see here…..

      • Gravis82

        The not worth 6 million dollars player that Eberle…who resigned for 5.5 million. Edmonton fans consistently push players away because of their unrealistically low valuation of what they should be paid. Its happened for decades