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The trade was one for one. On June 29th, the New Jersey Devils seemed to commit highway robbery of the Edmonton Oilers when they traded Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall. On paper, it was a fourth-overall pick bust for a number-one pick that was under appreciated and unfairly criticized in the Canadian market. The Devils needed more scoring and they got a player that could post up over 65 points on a consistent basis. The Oilers needed a defenseman that can shut down the opposing opposition and could help them from giving up goals. Larsson wasn’t the Nick Lidstrom that some pundits projected him to be, but he was serviceable.
Hall was on a very team-friendly contract that had four years left on it. While Larsson had five years left on his deal. Well it is four years later and Hall’s contact is up after this season. The story surrounding the Devils is what they are going to do with Hall. Could they re-sign him and make him the next captain and cement him in Devils lore? Or would they come out of the gate slow and be forced to move him?
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We all know the situation the Devils are in. It is the latter and it is worse than we thought. The Devils came down to Earth harder than thought possible. Now the writing is on the wall and Hall will most certainly be moved. The rumblings being it will be sooner rather than later.
At the end of Hall’s tenure with the Devils, the question of who actually won the trade needs to be asked. Yes, Hall did have a career year by winning the Hart Trophy in his second year with the Devils, but one good year of Taylor Hall and one playoff win was not what Ray Shero had planned. So the deal has to be looked at with what the Devils may get for Hall. As it stands, Hall has 208 points in 210 games played with the Devils. He will seem to finish his black and red career as a point per game player while being a talent the Devils could do nothing with.
People can blame Shero for holding on to John Hynes for too long, but Hall has admitted before, without Hynes, Hall would not have had his record year. Hall did miss a good chunk of time with an injury in 2018-19, but without a solid goaltender that team was not going anywhere even with a healthy Hall.
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Speaking of an injury prone tenure, Larsson still has one more year left on his contract with the Oilers. He missed a good portion to the start of this season due to a broken ankle suffered while blocking a shot. In 2017-18 he also missed nearly 20 games due to an injury. While Larsson has never scored more than twenty points in a season with the Oilers, he has been dependable on the defensive side of the puck. Currently wearing an ‘A’, he seems to be in the future plans of the Oilers with Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, and Ethan Bear. That is a formidable top four to have if Bear can keep up his play and even take another step. With Philip Broberg and Evan Bouchard in the pipeline, the Oilers blueline is set for a few years to come. With the team currently in first place in the Pacific Division, Larsson won’t be going anywhere.
With the Oilers only making the playoffs once in Larsson’s tenure, this year could decide who won the trade. With Conor McDavid and Leon Draisatl, the Oilers should be taken as Stanley Cup contenders, IF and only if they can keep the pace of play up and not collapse. They could even possibly trade for Hall, but it is not likely due to the price Shero has set for his former MVP. All signs point to the Colorado Avalanche. To decide who won the original Taylor Hall trade, you have to take into consideration what the second Hall trade will bring in. If the Oilers make the playoffs this season or next with Larsson and get out of the first round while the Devils get an underwhelming return and won’t compete for a few more years, the Oilers would have actually won the original deal.
The Devils do not seem like they are in the mood to compete this season and ironically without a better defense and goaltending, they won’t for a while. The Oilers have Larsson and a core already there. There may be one or two players currently on the team for the Devils that can be considered in their future plans. It is sad that this is the way that Hall’s tenure is ending in New Jersey. It should not have gone like this, but it is the case. However if Hall can be dealt for a bonafide prospect like Bowen Byram, then it can be considered a push deal.
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So in the end there are three ways that the one for one trade can be judged. Player success, team success and team future. For the player success it is an absolute no brainer. Hall won the MVP and was a point per game player. Larsson while being serviceable did not have near an impact as Hall. Team success wise, it was a push until this season. Edmonton seems to be on pace to make the playoffs this year while the Devils look for the number one overall pick, again. Much like the Oilers were in the early 2010s. Both teams made the playoffs once with both players so far, but if the Oilers can do damage this season, that edge goes to them.
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So the tie breaker is what the future holds for both teams. It depends on what the Devils get for Hall in the upcoming trade and what happens with their potential lottery pick. Dealing Hall will make the team worse and #TankForLaff will be on. But even with a Cole Perfetti the Devils will be better off. If the Devils lose the lottery and get an underwhelming return, the Oilers get the edge. They have McDavid and Draisatl. The Devils have Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. Neither have the potential of those two, but are solid building blocks. It all comes down to Ray Shero and what he can get for Hall. But right now, as it stands, the Oilers should get a little more love for this deal. Because, they as it seems, have won the original Hall trade.