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Hallsy: The Rumour Mill

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Photo credit:Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
10 months ago
Rumors about who might be heading where after the games are done and the Stanley Cup has been hoisted are staples of the off-season around the NHL.
There’s everything from glimpses of what’s likely to happen from legit insiders to pie-in-the-sky nonsense from guessers without a clue. It’s all part of the off-season pile you sift through for fun as a fan or for work as somebody covering one of the teams, like the Edmonton Oilers.
One of the standards of the filler and fodder out there year after year is the tried-and-true encore storyline – even if history suggests these reunions usually fail to recapture the successes of years gone by. What players might make sense at a different price point and at a different place on the depth chart?
I just did one of those about Sam Gagner and the Oilers in what would actually be his third stint in Edmonton a week or so ago when his name was making the rounds.
When I typed Taylor Hall’s name into Google under “news” this morning, four of the first six returns I got were about the Boston Bruins trading him. As you’d expect, speculation about a return to the Oilers was part of the mix. Would it work? Could it work? I don’t know. You?

WHAT ABOUT AN ENCORE?

May 10, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (71) reacts after scoring the winning goal in overtime against the New York Islanders at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
While it’s mostly fan sites like this one keeping tabs on the New Jersey Devils or this one following the Chicago Blackhawks as opposed to MSM people jumping in at this point, a lot of fans have been talking lately about why Hall would or wouldn’t make sense for their team.
Often, the arguments made are based on nothing more than whether or not they like the player, but that’s fine. Hockey ops folks and teammates are the ones who actually know if there’s a fit beyond the obvious considerations like cap space. So, what about Hall and the Oilers?
Hall is 31 today but he turns 32 in November. In the time-flies department, Hall last played for the Oilers in 2015-16, which was Connor McDavid’s injury shortened rookie campaign. Hall played 381 regular season games with the Oilers and he has played more games elsewhere – a total of 441 more in stops with Boston, New Jersey, Arizona, and Buffalo.
Hall is coming off a season with the Bruins in which he scored 16-20-36. Since winning the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2017-18, Hall’s numbers and his level of play have eroded. I’m not sure he’s even a top-six forward at this point, although I could certainly be wrong about that. He’s got some tough clicks on the odometer.
As for the numbers that matter, Hall has two seasons remaining on a contract packing a $6-million AAV. While it’s best to leave the talk about Hall being a fit on the team to McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the rest of the players on the roster, he won’t fit under the salary cap GM Ken Holland has to work with.
On the face of it, I can’t imagine Holland thinks Hall is worth the cap gymnastics it would take to get him and still get the ink done for Even Bouchard and the rest of his free agents, but I don’t know that for sure.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Like I said in the Gagner piece, there has to be a lot more than a nice, nostalgic trip down Memory Lane to have a return by Hall make any sense at all. Those who like the idea will talk about having Boston retain salary – like you can snap your fingers and have the Bruins eat $2 million just like that – and other ways to make it happen. Fair comment.
Me? I really enjoyed watching Hall in the days before McDavid and Draisaitl arrived on the scene because most nights he was the Oilers best player. That was a long time ago. Pass.

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