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One week later: Some thoughts about the Taylor Hall trade

It’s been a week since Taylor Hall was traded to the Devils and we’re still talking about it.

Edmonton Oilers v Toronto Maple Leafs

It’s been almost a week since the Oilers and Devils completed a trade that sent Taylor Hall to New Jersey in exchange for Adam Larsson. The first thing I saw indicating that a trade had been made came from Ryan Rishaug, a full 15 minutes after I made it very clear that I didn’t see any way that the Oilers would trade Hall. Oh, how I enjoyed those 15 minutes, the innocence, the sheer joy of having Taylor Hall on the team that I cheer for. It was a simpler time back then, between 1:10PM and 1:25PM on Wednesday June 29th, but like all good things it had to end.

So far I’ve written nothing about the trade other than the initial post on this site, a post which is all of 223 words. There have been a few tweets as well, and some comments on the posts that followed, but mostly I’ve kept my mouth shut, by my standards at least. A week later though, having taken the time to absorb the deal and what has happened since, there are some things I want to touch on. And so, in no particular order ...

The trade is done, get over it

Starting Thursday, literally the day after the trade, I noticed "it’s done, get over it" starting to pop up in discussions. And to my credit I didn’t tell a single person saying this to shut the hell up no matter how much I wanted to. If you like the deal, or just feel that the best way to move on is to not dwell on it, that’s fine, that is 100% your choice. I choose not to, that's my choice.

In my case, over the last few years, I’ve spent hundreds of hours watching the Oilers, then re-watching most of the games because I’m an idiot, thinking about the roster both now and in the future, and what moves I’d like to make. And in all of that I wasn’t envisioning a scenario where Taylor Hall wasn’t part of the equation. The idea of a team built around Connor McDavid and Taylor Hall seemed to me to be a team that could be elite for seven or eight years, possibly winning multiple Stanley Cups along the way. That is what the rebuild was supposed to provide. The future of the team is now very different and it’s going to take me some time to adjust to that. And if that bothers you, simply channel your inner Ryan and resist the urge to tell me to shut the hell up.

Adam Larsson is an excellent hockey player and the Oilers should have gotten more

My problem with the trade is not that Adam Larsson is a bad hockey player, it’s simply that the Oilers didn’t get enough, not even close to enough, for a player as good as Taylor Hall. Those defending the deal point to the Oilers pitiful defence as justification for making a deal that looks like a loser on the surface, which is a great example of the politician's syllogism.

  1. We must do something
  2. This is something
  3. Therefore, we must do this.

Any trade that improves the Oilers defence is not automatically a good deal, and it is silly to suggest that it is. The value of the player traded away, both on the ice and his contract, the contract of the player coming back, and the short and long term roster implications all have to be considered. And when you consider all of those things, or at least when I do, the Oilers come out way behind.

This doesn’t mean that Adam Larsson is a bad hockey player though. In fact he is very good. If you want to know more about Larsson I would suggest reading what Woodguy and Travis Yost have written about him. My concern is that Larsson doesn’t generate enough offence to be considered a true top pairing defenceman, but in his own end of the rink he is fantastic and that undoubtedly has value too.

If it turns out that Larsson is less that a number one defenceman that’s unfortunate because of what they gave up but it is not the end of the world for the Oilers. As has been said many times before, the salary cap is an efficiency contest. A defence with two #2s and two #3s might be better than a team with a true #1, #2, #3, and #4, it depends what the players cost and how the rest of the team is built. I’m excited to see the Oilers with Larsson in the lineup; I just wish that the cost hadn’t been Hall.

Taylor Hall’s character problems

To listen to some, Taylor Hall is a cancer is the Oilers’ locker room. I can’t sit here and write that he absolutely is not, I don’t know because I’m not in the room. Of course neither is the person saying that he is a problem. And no, I don’t consider your neighbour’s, cousin’s, dog-walker to be a credible source of locker room information/gossip.

Maybe he was a problem, maybe he wasn’t, maybe the truth lies somewhere in between. I don’t know and neither do you. Relationships matter in a workplace, there is no denying that, but trying to assign meaning to rumours or a couple on-ice incidents strikes me as a bizarre way for someone to spend their time, but if that’s what makes you happy, then you be you.

Serious question though, let’s say, just for arguments sake, that Taylor Hall is/was a terrible teammate, how many points do you think that cost the Oilers last season? How many goals worse were the Oilers because of his attitude? We’re talking about one player, I can’t imagine that the impact would anything more than a couple points, which compared to the injuries and general makeup of the team places it a long way down on the list of the Oilers problems last season. Or at least that’s how I see it.

Regardless of the impact the attitude of one player might have, I wonder why these rumours and the stories even exist. The person reporting that Player X is "bad in the room" likely isn’t making it up, it had to come from somewhere and, whether it’s fair or not, as soon as a player is assigned this label they’re worth less to a lot of teams. So why then would anyone associated with a team ever even whisper to a member of the media that they’re unhappy with a player?

Everything, from the canned press conferences, to off the record locker room comments, to late night discussions in bars should be nothing but positive about each and every player on your team. There is no value in doing anything else. Maybe the Oilers really do think Taylor Hall is bad in the room, like I said, I wouldn’t know. But if that’s the case they should have resisted the urge to tell anyone and just shut the hell up; they should have been channelling their inner Ryan.

I was wrong about Edmonton’s MSM

I take a lot of shots at the people that make up the Oilers main stream media. Some of that is deserved; some is me being a smart ass picking off low hanging fruit. I’m trying to be less of an ass when it comes to this but it’s not always easy, and it’s certainly less fun. Which bring me to a tweet taking a shot at the media from shortly after the trade was announced.

It’s happened in the past, in Edmonton and around the league, that after a player gets traded that some in the media like to take shots at that player, reporting things they weren’t willing to report before. And it drives me crazy. And I expected the same to happen in the wake of this trade but it hasn’t. A week has passed and I haven’t seen a single member of the MSM take a run Hall. That’s very nice to see. Sorry for expecting the worst and next time I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.