This time of year turns all of us grown-up NHL fans into little kids on Christmas Eve. Some day there will be blogs written by eight-year-olds predicting what presents are going to be under the tree. If there aren't already, I dunno, I didn't check. In the meantime, you'll have to settle for a bunch of thoughts on trades and free agency.
Milan Lucic and Taylor Hall
Gene Principe tweeted that he has two sources who claim Lucic to Edmonton is basically a done deal. Of course, in true Lucic fashion, the player shot back that the report is "bullshit". I know we've been saying this for, oh, the last eight year or so, but the Oilers are a team on the rise. At least they're on the right side of the development curve as compared to Vancouver. That should give them an edge over Lucic's home town. Lucic fits nicely with what Chiarelli is trying to build, but does that make Taylor Hall expendable?
Over their careers, Lucic has averaged 0.61 points per game, which makes him about a 50-point player. Hall, meanwhile, has averaged 0.86 p/g, making him about a 70-point player. What's more, Hall is much more likely to carry that production forward for the next four years (the term left on his deal, which will expire when he's the same age Lucic is now).
Taylor Hall is a winger. You can't keep all your shiny toys and hope to ever build a balanced roster. If the right deal is there, signing Lucic and trading Hall makes some sense. The right deal might actually materialize, too, because Hall is special. Normally a GM would have to be an idiot to trade a very good defeseman for a winger, but it changes things when that winger happens to be one of the very best in the game. A Taylor Hall trade may not see you get exactly one-to-one value, but the difference is made up in the positional upgrade.
Hall has averaged almost nineteen minutes per game for the Oilers over his career, but if he's not scoring he's not necessarily doing much in that time. He isn't really breaking up the cycle or grinding the opposition in the corner. He has averaged only eight seconds of PK time over his career (I know, I was surprised too).
Don't get me wrong, I love what Hall brings. I even argued against trading him at least once - hell, I even named the article "Don't Trade Taylor Hall"! But McDavid, Draisaitl, Puljujarvi and potentially Lucic have changed that position somewhat. Nobody on this team except #97 will get you the return that Hall will, and in terms of importance wingers come last. It might be time to think it over.
Adam Larsson Trade
I was listening to Bob Stauffer yesterday, and he was hinting at the Oilers trading for New Jersey's Adam Larsson. Funny how things go. The Oilers could have had Larsson at the 2011 draft, and now they could conceivably trade the player they took - Nugent-Hopkins - for the defenseman. On the other hand, RNH may not be enough, which brings us back to Hall.
Adam Larsson is 6'3", 205 lbs, shoots right, and averaged over 22 minutes per night last season. He didn't get buried possession-wise, despite starting in the the offensive zone only 30.5% of the time(!) and playing the toughest competition. His partner, Andy Greene, didn't seem to be carrying him, either. He was a plus-15 if you're into that sort of thing, threw 163 hits, and blocked 148 shots (both good for second on the Oilers). And he's only twenty-three.
The Devils were last in Goals For this past season, they only had two players over 20 goals (actually, they both had 30), and nobody over 60 points. They need scoring badly but they're not exactly brimming-over with defensemen, either. I don't see Larsson getting traded to any team, but he's a perfect fit for the Oilers. This is the type of player that I personally would consider giving up Hall for. You lose a lot offensively (Larsson had just 18 points), but you gain in every other area.
What's it going to take to sign Jason Demers? The player is just fine; he's not ideal but he's perfectly serviceable. But somebody is going to offer him a boatload of cash, and I hope it isn't the Oilers. Granted, the Oilers need help on the blueline, but he's going to give you what, 30 points? I realize I just made the opposite argument with Larsson, but that's because Larsson is signed for another five years at just over $4 million. Demers' cap hit was already approaching that number, so where's he going to end up now? I just wanted to officially note that I'd be cautious about giving the guy too much money so that later I can say I told you so to someone.
Shattenkirk Hopes To Be Traded
Kevin Shattenkirk has said through his agent that he hopes he'll get traded soon. So that's neat. Right shot, 6 feet, 202, good possession numbers, about a 48-point player. The Blues need scoring because, despite their strong success, they were just middle of the pack in Goals For. After Tarasenko there isn't much to break a game open offensively. Since they're going to be trading Shattenkirk anyway, it would make sense to try to add something that could help them get over that hump. Another excellent fit for the Oilers, who should be right in the middle of everything over the next couple of weeks.