With all of the fuss made yesterday about Milan Lucic and Jason Demers being in Edmonton and the rumours that circulated around social media that each may already have some sort of agreement in place to sign in Edmonton (which I doubt, though it's entirely possible both sign with the Oilers), a common theme began popping anywhere the Oilers were being discussed:
IF Oilers were to land Lucic, would think a Hall deal becomes much more likely. Can't have 17.5m tied up in 4LW'ers.— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) June 28, 2016
There's logic to the theory that the arrival of Milan Lucic would precede a trade of Taylor Hall, but it doesn't have to be that way.
I would hope by this point I should not have to explain this in detail, but to summarize briefly: Milan Lucic is a good player. He'd be an excellent add for Edmonton (though I worry about the contract). As good as Lucic is, he's no Taylor Hall. Hall is one of the only two people in the Oilers' organization who can carry a line by himself (the other being McDavid.) Lucic can help Edmonton, but he does not make Hall expendable. Luckily, I'm not the only one who thinks this way:
I would not be high on moving Hall. He can carry his own line. That doesn't grow on trees.— Jason Strudwick (@Jason_Strudwick) June 28, 2016
Hear me out: a team with Milan Lucic AND Taylor Hall. #WHOA— Travis Yost (@travisyost) June 29, 2016
Travis Yost is a smart guy and I hope people within the Oilers management group are saying those same words to themselves this morning.
Having Milan Lucic makes the Oilers better. It makes other players expendable to help acquire a Dman to improve the right side of the blueline. That player still shouldn't be Taylor Hall.
The answer to that question is Benoit Pouliot.
Now you might say that Pouliot doesn't get you a top pair Dman on his own, and you're right. While acquiring a #1 top pair Dman should be the objective, if the deals aren't out there to be had, then the Oilers are going to have to find another way. That way should not include trading Hall unless you're getting a PK Subban/Oliver Ekman-Larsson type of player back.
So, if those kinds of players aren't really available, the Oilers are going to have to play defence by committee, which is possible as long as you have 6 good players instead of 2 good ones and 4 awful ones which has been Edmonton's standard operating procedure for the last few years. With the left side pretty much in good shape, Edmonton obviously needs to target right-shot Dmen who can handle top 4 minutes. Is there a player out there like that they could acquire using Benoit Pouliot as a key piece? What about Damon Severson?
Severson is a guy I wrote about a few days ago and many others around the Oilogosphere have written about before that.
At 21 Severson has performed very well in his career to-date yet he's somewhat fallen out of favour on a New Jersey team that is desperate for players that can provide some offence. It may not be a 1 for 1 swap, but I think a deal using Severson and Pouliot as primary pieces is enough to get a meaningful discussion started.
Obviously this player wouldn't solve Edmonton's blueline issues by himself, but with the rumours that the Oilers are also pursuing Jason Demers, a combination of Demers and Severson added to the right-side would be a huge step up from the last few seasons. Ideally those two would make Mark Fayne redundant and Edmonton could try to arrange for a more offensive-minded option to fill out the right-side. I've discussed some of the options there in previous posts as well.
The bottom line is that an Oilers roster with Lucic AND Hall, where the upgrade on D is potentially Severson rather than Adam Larsson (for example) ends up with the Oilers further ahead in my opinion.
Signing Milan Lucic is a decent idea for Edmonton (if the contract is acceptable) but it isn't if it comes at the expense of Taylor Hall.