The notion that the Edmonton Oilers could re-acquire Taylor Hall this season is absolutely ridiculous — in the fact that it would be ridiculously great. Sorry about the clickbait-y title...I couldn’t resist.
The Twitterverse has been lit aflame over the past 24 hours after Elliotte Friedman doubted Buffalo’s ability to get a king’s ransom in a trade for Taylor Hall. Naturally, this sent Oiler fans into a frenzy.
Friedman says he doesn't see the Sabres getting a first round pick for Taylor Hall right now unless several teams suddenly decide they need him— J (@Account4hockey) March 25, 2021
This comes in the midst of a brutal statistical season for Hall. Through his first 31 games with the Sabres, he has only managed two goals and 17 points. Yet, point totals don’t tell the whole story as Hall is currently on a historically bad Sabres team.
Taylor Hall is Still Good:
Buffalo is currently on pace for their worst season in franchise history, somehow doing worse than 2014/15 in which they intentionally tanked to get Connor McDavid. They are dead last in the NHL with a 6-21-4 record and have been outscored 111-66 during that span. To add insult to injury they recently lost their best player and captain Jack Eichel due to an undisclosed upper-body injury.
It’s no wonder why Hall isn’t reaching his Hart trophy levels in Buffalo as he is currently smack dab in the middle of the NHL version of a black hole. Don’t worry, though, I do have actual numbers that back up why Hall is actually having a solid year despite poor production.
When you compare Buffalo’s x/g per 60 (expected goals per 60 minutes) with and without Hall on the ice, you get a clear picture of how valuable he has been to a battered and beaten Sabres club.
This Sabres losing streak is really bad, but I can't imagine how much worse they would look without Taylor Hall.— matt donders (@mattdonders) March 25, 2021
Per @IneffectiveMath there is a difference of 0.57 xG/60 (23% threat swing) with him on the ice. pic.twitter.com/tccGXTzHrO
What this is saying is that the Sabres are getting more quality shots on net when Taylor Hall is on the ice rather than when he is not. That 0.57 difference is huge when it comes to x/g and imagining the Sabres operating that much worse without Hall is pretty telling.
There is also the fact that Hall’s shooting % is uncharacteristically low. As it stands right now he has scored on 2.7% of his shots, a steep decline from the 10.1% he has managed over his entire career.
This indicates that Taylor Hall’s poor performance in Buffalo is due to the fact that he is on a very bad team. He has struggled to generate offence but so has the rest of the team. If he had better quality teammates he would more than likely rebound to his usual numbers.
He might not recapture the magic that made him the NHL MVP in 2017, but he would definitely be an elite offensive force.
Edmonton is a perfect match:
There is perhaps no better match for both a team and player than there is for Taylor Hall and the Edmonton Oilers. Of course, Hall spent the first six seasons of his career with the Oilers and was the club’s best player for that length of time. While many have problems with his off-ice behaviour, which is largely anecdotal and unconfirmed, I don’t think many will question Hall’s production while he was an Oiler (328pts in 318gp).
The decision to trade Hall to the New Jersey Devils in the summer of 2016 was and remains to be a gigantic mistake. The team was never able to truly fill the gap left by Hall and five years later the club is STILL trying to find an impactful left-winger to play alongside Connor McDavid.
With Buffalo seemingly making Hall available for trade at this year’s deadline, it seems like a no-brainer for Ken Holland to inquire. The high AAV poses a problem for the cap-strapped Oilers but a few creative moves could definitely make it possible.
Adding Hall into the fray would immediately make the Oilers contenders and cement their top-six as one of the best in the league. While the obvious choice is to put him next to McDavid, I would argue that a spot beside Leon Draisaitl would be more worthwhile, considering the amazing chemistry they demonstrated in Hall’s final season in Edmonton.
Whether or not Hall would be rental for the Oilers is a different story. Edmonton does have a ton of money coming off the books this summer that would allow them to make an offer but, as with every contract, you have to be careful in what you offer.
It isn’t an easy deal for Ken Holland to make but, if he is serious about making this team a contender, it is one you find a way to make.