It’s been some time since writing an NHL Rumor Shootdown article but Wednesday’s whispers regarding Taylor Hall to the Edmonton Oilers gave plenty of reason to ensure not glossing over an opportunity to cover this rumor in more detail.
Elliotte Friedman was a guest on the 2 Mutts podcast and after being asked what three things he would do if he was the general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, around the 47-minute mark of the show, he said,
“You know what the third thing I would do is?, and you guys will laugh at this one. I am finding out what Taylor Hall’s future is… If I get the sense that he is going to free agency, I am telling the organization that my plan is to bring Taylor Hall back.”
Of course, even though this was just Friedman’s opinion, those who listened to the podcast started to ask if this was really possible? After all, Hall didn’t exactly leave Edmonton on the best of terms, had some not-so-nice things to say about his exit and how he chose not to listen to the coaches. He also went on to become an MVP player in New Jersey after leaving the team.
Here are the reasons, if you’re an Oilers fan, not to get overly excited about the possibility Hall to the Oilers happening.
Hall Likes It in New Jersey
There are only two reasons the Devils trade Hall. First, they either know he is planning on hitting free agency and they’d rather not lose him for nothing. Second, he’s told the Devils he no longer wants to play there.
While the first is a real possibility, the second doesn’t seem all that likely considering Hall’s agent came out recently and said his client very much likes being a Devils player and is open to extending his contract.
In a recent NHL.com article, Mike Morreale cited comments from Hall’s agent Darren Ferris:
I recently met [Hall] in Montreal and we had a great chat and he loves the New Jersey Devils, he loves the fan base there. I think this type of discussion, at the end of the year, is something where he’s going to sit down with his family and with [general manager Ray Shero] and strategize to say, ‘OK, how is this going to look going forward’ and then probably make a decision there.
This certainly doesn’t mean Hall is a lock to extend as players and teams sit down all the time to talk and end up going their separate ways, but this already puts this rumor as less-than-expected when you consider that Hall isn’t looking to leave New Jersey.
The Devils probably aren’t looking to move Hall either. They’ve not had a good season and part of that has to do with the fact he’s missed much of this season with an injury. He had 37 points in 33 games and is heavily missed when not in the lineup.
Hall’s History with the Oilers Can’t Be Ignored
If Hall were to head to free agency, one has to wonder why in the hell he would want to come back to Edmonton? When he left the team, he was upset because he felt the organization was giving up on him just as they were starting to improve. In his eyes, he’d been a soldier through the tough times and when the getting was finally good, they moved him.
Perhaps comments he made after he was gone were made in frustration, but he said things like, “Just in Edmonton, I really didn’t want to talk to coaches. I didn’t really want to have a dialogue with coaches. I just wanted to play. And a lot of guys are like that.” He also added, “I’ve played on some bad hockey teams, if you want me to put it bluntly.”
While both comments were probably true, it says a lot about how he might still feel about the Oilers. If you’re a free agent and you have a choice on where you want to go when the world is your oyster, why would you choose a team who has seemingly just proved, again, that even with the best player in the world, they can’t make the playoffs?
There are about 20 more NHL teams that have as likely a shot to land Hall as the Oilers ever would. A trade is the most likely scenario that would bring him back, but what would the Oilers move? Better question, what would the Devils want? Adam Larsson for Hall isn’t happening twice in a lifetime.
Oh… And What About the Cap Space Thing in Edmonton?
By the way, the Oilers aren’t exactly swimming in salary cap space. At least not enough to add what is sure to be $8- $9 million per season in salary for Hall as a free agent. For people who think he’ll be asking less than that as a recent MVP award-winner, he won’t be.
The second the Hall whispers started, some people got carried away and suggested maybe Jordan Eberle could be right around the corner. While a lovely thought in theory, those people are ignoring the fact the Oilers have Milan Lucic, Andrej Sekera, Brandon Manning, Kris Russell, Mikko Koskinen, and others on the books that make fitting Hall in almost impossible.
At the end of the day, Hall is no Sam Gagner coming back to Edmonton — a player who could pay off but was dumped by his previous team. It’s not likely many fans will be ok with removing a player like Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or, heaven forbid, Connor McDavid out to bring Hall in.