Veteran sports journalist Larry Brooks recently wrote an article in the New York Post discussing what the New York Islanders need to do take the Eastern Conference and part of his post included a tidbit about a player on the Edmonton Oilers…
If we’re going beyond rentals, and why not, don’t the Islanders have enough to get Jonathan Drouin? And is there enough for Snow to pull off a deal with old trading buddy Peter Chiarelli, now in Edmonton, to get young Taylor Hall onto No. 91’s left wing? Wouldn’t that be something? – Larry Brooks
Now this is nothing more than commentary on the part of Larry Brooks but I feel that it’s not completely unrealistic. It’s pretty far out there but for the sake of igniting a bit of water cooler talk, I think we should delve into it.
Now the reason we can sit here and talk about the idea of moving Taylor Hall is simple, what’s he done the last 15 games when the team has needed him so badly? Well he’s contributed three goals in that time. Ouch. The good thing is that in the past three games he’s produced five points. But that 15 game stretch hurts the Oilers. He’s their main man this year and up until the loss to Vancouver on Boxing Day, he was getting points left and right.
Let’s be straight about something though, this is not an anti-Hall post. It’s simply me taking a shot at an idea put forth by another writer. Just for shits and giggles if you will.
So Hall is the Oilers (and possibly the NHL’s) best LW, he’s doing a majority of the scoring and the next person on the depth chart after him is Benoit Pouliot… So I’d be looking to toss a band-aid on there but my main concern would be on defence. With the Islanders that’s easy, Travis Hamonic. But it couldn’t be a straight up deal there, Garth Snow would have to toss in something else… Something big.
Brock Nelson is a guy that would have some value to the Oilers. He’s a big body, is about to put up around 200 shots this season if everything goes to plan and should be good for around 25-30 goals (which would be a career high but he’s shooting at 17% when his career average is around 10%, so we can expect that to come back to earth at some point). He’s good on the face-off dot (51%) and is above water (barely) on the CF% Rel (.2)
Ryan Strome is another player that is worth your time. He’s a forward that can play across the board with a solid build (6’1″ 199lbs). He put up 50pts in 81 games last season and then for whatever reason found himself on the outside looking in this season. He was sent down to the AHL for 8 games where he racked up 10 points in that time. He’s too good for the AHL and he needs to find a team that could accommodate him in the NHL if the Isles aren’t willing to do so. Not that there is any indication that the Isles are unhappy with Strome but he’s def. not getting the same push this year as he was last season.
But let’s say it’s one of those players, prospects, and a pick deals… We’ve got Hamonic already, so moving on to the prospects. Two jump out at me right away, Michael Dal Colle, a LW plying his trade with the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL, and Mathew Barzal of the Seattle Thunderbirds. Another prospect by the name of Ryan Pulock, a right-handed shooting dman, catches my eye a bit too.
Dal Colle hasn’t had an amazing season so far. He was cut from the Team Canada World Junior team as he wasn’t producing at the rate he was expected to (he had back to back 90+ point seasons before this one) in Oshawa before his trade to Kingston. But since that deal MDC has been scoring at more than a 2 PPG clip, so that is a plus. The other thing that is intriguing about him is his size, he stands 6’3″ and 198lbs according to eliteprospects.com and he’s a former 5th overall pick from the 2014 draft.
Mathew Barzal is a crafty playmaking centre who is remarkably good at reading plays. He had a few highlight plays at the World Juniors in Finland for Team Canada but was under-used in my opinion. He has an injury history but has moved on from that to put up very respectable numbers this year (45 points in 27 games so far). The Oilers did have a chance to select him but chose to move their second first round pick in the Griffin Reinhart trade where the Islanders landed him at #16 overall. Lastly, he was one of the final cuts at Islanders camp this year so there’s that to consider as well.
Ryan Pulock could be the powerplay quarterback the Oilers have been looking for since they signed Justin Schultz. He’s got a cannon of a shot and decent size (6’2″ 220lb.) but his downside being he’s not the most physical of players and his skating could use a bit or work.
As far as draft picks go, the Islanders first rounder is a given. At this point it is sitting at 23rd overall and we don’t know how the Isles will do in the final third of the season, so it could go up or down but they’re sitting in a playoff spot right now, so let’s assume it’ll stay in the 20-25 range thus giving the Oilers a plethora of options.
At that point in the draft they could add depth to the forwards by picking skilled players like Sam Steel (Regina Pats), hard-working two-way players like Tyler Benson (Vancouver Giants), or a sniper like Connor McDavid’s linemate last year, Alex Debrincat (Erie Otters). Chiarelli could possibly pick up another defenceman with the pick and I’m thinking the likes of the level-headed Kale Clague (Brandon Wheat Kings), the hulking Logan Stanley (Windsor Spitfires), or the uber-intelligent Libor Hajek (Saskatoon Blades).
Then again Edmonton could very well do as they did last year and use it in a trade too. Who knows?
The team trading Taylor Hall in this situation never wins. As I said earlier, he’s one of the best left wings in the game if not THE best left-wing. He’s finally maturing into the guy we’ve been waiting for and he’s staying healthy! The other thing is, scoring is hard enough with one of the best in the league, you can only imagine how much harder it would be without him.
Grabbing a handful of prospects and picks with Travis Hamonic or acquiring Hamonic with Strome or Nelson would definitely add to the scoring quandary as oppose to solving it but I guess with that said, it would add depth to a team that looks to be lacking in it not only at the NHL level but at the AHL level and it could open up the possibility of adding a high-ticket marquee defenseman.
What say you? At the cost of an amazing hockey player, would you try to shore up the holes in the Oilers roster so that the foundation of the team was stronger going forward? Let me know in the comments below!
Thank you for reading! Take care!