The Jason Demers Ripple Effect

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Liam Horrobin
1 month ago
The summer of 2016 was an exciting one for Edmonton Oilers fans. It was the first time in a while that they saw their team take steps in a positive direction. Connor McDavid had just completed his NHL rookie season, they were in the market for top free agents, and a new arena was right around the corner.
Of course, the big free agent splash was Milan Lucic, the number one player on the market. Lucic was coming off a 20-goal and 55-point campaign with the Los Angeles Kings and was seen as the perfect sidekick to McDavid. The Oilers signed the Vancouver native to a seven-year deal worth $42,000,000 with an average annual value of $6,000,000.
When Lucic came to visit Edmonton, he wasn’t alone. Fellow free agent Jason Demers, after a strong year with the Dallas Stars, was also around for a visit. The Oilers were in desperate need of an upgrade on the right side of their blueline, with Justin Schultz, Mark Fayne, Adam Clendening, and Eric Gryba filling in roles in that position during the 2016 season. At the time, Demers had played 423 regular season games and had been to two Western Conference Finals.
“They flew me in with my dad, and [Milan] Lucic was there,” said Jason Demers on his visit to Edmonton in 2016. “We had the tour planned, and then we were going to have dinner at the owner’s house, Daryl Katz. As we rolled into the house, I was talking to my dad about how much I wanted to sign in Edmonton.”
“They were the only team I visited and I would’ve loved to have played with that group of players. Todd McLellan was the head coach with Trent Yawney, and I had spoke with Todd the day before and he told me they really needed a right handed defenceman.”I had Yawney is San Jose and he got the best out of me.”
Demers played in San Jose under McLellan starting in 2009 until he was traded to Dallas in November of 2021. Yawney was around the Sharks for Demers’s first two seasons when he scored 45 points in 126 games across two years.
“We were sitting at dinner, and Lucic kept leaving the table and then coming back. [Peter] Chiarelli was there to and he kept leaving the table to talk with him. I can hear them, and the number keeps going up and up and up. I turned to my dad and said it that doesn’t look like we are going to Edmonton.”
“It went from them telling me why Edmonton is such a great place and why I should sign there, and I am not telling them directly, but I was sold. It went from that to like we weren’t even in the house. It would’ve been such a good fit at the time,” concluded Demers.
The ripple effect from Demers not signing with the Oilers is quite intriguing.
Demers signed with the Florida Panthers for a five year  $22,500,000 for an average annual value of $4,500,000. The Oilers, instead of signing him, acquired Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall, who they would eventually lose in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.
Two years removed from playing in Edmonton, Hall scored 39 goals and 93 points, becoming the Hart Trophy winner in 2018, beating Nathan MacKinnon and Anze Kopitar. Hall was traded a couple more times over the next few years, including to the Arizona Coyotes. In that team, a first-round pick was moved to New Jersey, resulting in Dawson Mercer going to the Devils.
From the Lucic side of things, the Oilers never acquired James Neal. Additionally, they wouldn’t have had to give up that third-round pick if Neal scored 20, which he never did, but they had to move it due to a league ruling.
Eventually, Demers made his way to Edmonton 2023 for his final professional season, but that decision night to sign him caused drastic measures to be taken in the coming years.


Star Mechanical is one of Edmonton’s biggest locally owned and operated plumbing and heating businesses. They have been working within the community for over 20 years, and many of the homes built in Edmonton over the last two decades have had their plumbing and heating systems installed by Star Mechanical.  Visit them at starmechanical.ca to schedule an appointment and let them help keep your home running smoothly.

Check out these posts...