On Wednesday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mused about Taylor Hall’s future in New Jersey on Tim and Sid. Friedman said it’s unlikely Hall would remain with the Devils if their struggles continue. Tim Micallef joked about a possible return to the Edmonton Oilers and Friedman did say the Oilers would be interested in Hall. That makes sense. The Oilers need another lethal option up front and Hall is a player that needs little help to tilt the ice in his team’s favour. Ken Holland should be calling on just about any significant forward available.
“It would not surprise me if Edmonton was a big suitor here… ”
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) October 16, 2019
Hall’s still very good, but Hall’s also no longer the young player he was with the Oilers. Hall turns 29-years old in the November of the next contract he signs, whether that’s with the Devils or another team. Hall’s had injury troubles throughout his career, including missing 49 games in 2018-19.
Hall’s gone if the Devils don’t turn it around, which could work out for the Oilers if they continue their early success. The Oilers shouldn’t be in the rental market, but a trade-and-sign like Mark Stone and Vegas last year, or sort of like Erik Karlsson in San Jose. Premier players with one year left on their contracts don’t get full value, even if they’re working out a contract with their new team. The Ottawa Senators didn’t even get a first-round draft pick in the Stone trade with Vegas. Erik Brannstrom is a great prospect, but you move a prospect like him any day if you can acquire a player like Stone.
Even the Karlsson trade was more quantity than quality. Ottawa received Chris Tierney, Rudolfs Balcers, Josh Norris, Dylan DeMelo, a 2019 second-round pick, a 2020 first-round pick, and a conditional 2021 second-round pick that could have turned into a first had the Sharks made the Stanley Cup Finals last season. Tierney and DeMelo are decent players who can play minutes on hopeless Senators teams. Balcers and Norris are solid prospects. The draft picks are decent, but the Sharks are almost always good leaving it likely in the bottom half of the first round in 2020.
The Montreal Canadiens traded Max Pacioretty to Vegas last September and the Golden Knights promptly extended the former Canadiens captain. Vegas traded prospect Nick Suzuki, Tomas Tatar, and a 2019 second-round draft pick for Pacioretty. Suzuki was a former first-round pick, but Tatar was a cap dump with three years left on his contract. Tatar was disappointing after being moved to the Golden Knights at the 2017-18 deadline but ended up outscoring Pacioretty in 2018-19.
Vegas extended Pacioretty to a four-year contract worth seven million a season.
Can the Oilers afford to give up a haul for Hall? The packages given up for Karlsson, Pacioretty, and Stone must make Holland pause. The Oilers aren’t flush with assets.
What about first-round pick and, say, Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi, and another decent pick or prospect? You’d have to consider it. Anything more and it’s out of line with what recent stars with no term on their deals yielded.
Hall instantly gives teams another line to worry about other than one with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Hall could play with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and another complimentary player on right wing. Hall produced with just about anyone in his time in Edmonton. Teams would have to pick who to send their top-pairing defencemen against, leaving the other line to feast on secondary opposition.
Holland preached patience and building in his press conference introducing him as Oilers general manager. But plans can change in a hurry. Maybe the Oilers look like a more attractive destination for Hall after a good start. Players like Hall don’t come available too often. Even with his injury concerns, this isn’t signing Milan Lucic to a massive free-agent contract that he’ll never live up to. Hall should be good value for most of his next contract.
Hall might want to pick his spot and play on a contending team, but that might be difficult depending on his contract demands. He might be able to sacrifice term to play on a good team, but he’s still getting at least nine million on a five-year deal, and even that feels low.
Oilers ticket sales are down and fan engagement isn’t as the same. A 7-1 start will boost interest, but what about reacquiring a fan favourite who wanted to play here and never should have been traded in the first place?
A one-two punch of Connor McDavid on one line and Taylor Hall on another should have been the Oilers game plan for the previous four seasons. Holland has a chance to right a wrong, but should he?