Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson was the deal on June 29th, 2016. What a lopsided deal in favor of New Jersey, right? A top-line, point per game superstar given up for a top 4 defenseman. What is Peter Chiarelli thinking? Not only were these my thoughts, but the thoughts of the public. Well, maybe everyone was wrong.
What’s the main area that Edmonton has needed to address for several years? That’s right, it’s defense. Looking at their roster before the trade, they had a ton of offensive skill. It started, of course, with Connor McDavid. There was also Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Leon Draisaitl, and lastly, Taylor Hall. Somehow, they weren’t even decent with that much talent. Obviously, some change was needed, and that included acquiring a solid defenseman. Unlike what McTavish had said, offense doesn’t win games alone.
Let’s break this down for a second and see it from Edmonton’s perspective. What they were doing obviously wasn’t working. Something had to change. It was a couple days before free agency began. They already drafted Jesse Puljujärvi. Now, who was available in the free agent market? Well, Milan Lucic was. He has some offensive abilities, but brings physicality and some defensive skills, as well. He can come in, contribute offensively, bring grit, protect McDavid, and help out in their own end. That would then allow them to expend one of their top players to help out the back end. Wait, there’s also Kris Russell in the free agent market. He’s a solid top 4-6 defenseman. If they can sign him, that means that a trade could give them two very good defensemen. So they decide to part ways with Taylor Hall and acquire Adam Larsson. Let’s take a look at their offseason:
The Oilers lose: Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov
The Oilers acquire: Milan Lucic, Jesse Puljujärvi, Kris Russell, Adam Larsson
It looks pretty good, actually. They have an offensive core consisting of McDavid, Lucic, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl, and Puljujärvi. The defense also looks pretty good with Andrej Sekera, Adam Larsson, Kris Russell, and Darnell Nurse. After breaking it down, the Taylor Hall trade does not seem so bad, and I think it helped them move in a positive direction. I’m not ready to predict a playoff appearance this season, but I believe they will be competitive and are a lot closer to a spot than they have been the past several seasons.