Oilers Almost Kept Hall and Landed McDonagh

Back in 2016, before the Edmonton Oilers traded former NHL MVP Taylor Hall for top-two defenseman Adam Larsson, former general manager Peter Chiarelli was working on another deal. That deal would have made the Hall-for-Larsson trade non-existent and arguably changed the face of the Oilers fortunes as fans know it today.

As was reported in Elliotte Friedman’s recent 31 Thoughts article:

A final one on Chiarelli: In the fall of 2016, a few sources indicated he came close to a blockbuster at the 2016 NHL Draft, days before the Taylor Hall-Adam Larsson deal. Asked about it, he laughed but said he wouldn’t tell. Believe me, I tried. The Oilers had the fourth selection, snaring Jesse Puljujarvi…

This quote in and of itself doesn’t say much about what the deal for Edmonton would have been but a new report by the New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggests that trade would have been with the New York Rangers for current Tampa Bay Lighting defenseman, Ryan McDonagh.

Related: NHL Rumors: Brassard, Skinner, Predators, More

The Details of the McDonagh to Edmonton Trade

As Brooks writes in his article, Slap Shots has confirmed with multiple sources the deal “would have sent Ryan McDonagh to the Oilers in exchange for the fourth-overall selection in the draft the Blueshirts intended to use on Clayton Keller of the USNDT.”

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh
New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

The Rangers had just come off a crushing first-round defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins and knew it was time to shake things up. McDonagh represented a marketable asset they could move to grab something of value and talks with Chiarelli got serious. In the end, the Oilers then-GM decided not to pull the trigger. Instead, he moved to the trade that has been lamented for years in Edmonton — Hall for Larsson. The Rangers then moved Derick Brassard to Ottawa for Mika Zibanejad and eventually traded McDonagh to the Lightning.

Related: Oilers Need Audit, Then McCrimmon as GM

The Idea of Losing Puljujarvi Instead of Hall

With the fourth pick in that year’s draft, the Oilers took Puljujarvi. Looking back, if you asked any Edmonton Oilers fan and were told, ‘you could have Hall and McDonagh instead of Puljujarvi and Larsson, would you be ok with that?’ the answer seems obvious. It’s also damning evidence, if true, of Chiarelli’s total incompetence.

Taylor Hall - NHL MVP
Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils poses for a portrait with the Hart Trophy at the 2018 NHL Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on June 20, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

It has to be assumed that Chiarelli had the Hall-for-Larsson deal in his back pocket when thinking about trading the fourth-overall pick for McDonagh. And, while Puljujarvi was seen as being as close to a sure thing as a draft pick can get at that spot, the Oilers knew exactly what both Hall and McDonagh were in terms of players.

Hall was a star and McDonagh had just come off a 34-points-in-73-game season and was still young. He’d offered previous 30-plus and 4o-plus seasons and was the acting captain for the Rangers. He was every bit as valuable as Larsson, if not more so.

There is absolutely something to be said for knowing what you have versus guessing what you’ll receive and while Puljujarvi was highly touted, he was still a maybe that has turned out to be an maybe with some doubt.

What If…

A roster today that would feature Connor McDavid, Leon Drasaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom, Ryan McDonagh and Taylor Hall would be a much more formidable force than what the Oilers currently ice in an attempt to make a run at this year’s postseason. Let’s not forget, had the Oilers not moved Hall, there would have been no need to sign Milan Lucic.

For a GM who was so quick to make trades — and bad ones at that — one has wonder what was going through his mind that day.

Food for thought.

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