Sorry, Edmonton Oilers fans.
Your team, a once-proud franchise that owned the 1980s with a dynasty of five Stanley Cup championships, just can’t seem to piece together a quality roster in the new NHL.
Since going to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, Edmonton has missed the playoffs in each season since, the longest active drought in the league. That drought should last even longer after a major-league failure of a trade Wednesday.
The Oilers traded 2010 first overall draft pick Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson.
In summary, the Oilers traded the second or third best left winger in the league — a player with the ability to consistently score 30-plus goals and tally close to a point-per-game — for a defenseman that is at best a second-pairing player.
Here’s a statistical view of Hall, who clearly rates as a first-line winger with extraordinary offensive talent.
Here’s the same look at Larsson, who rates as a top-pairing defenseman in only one of six categories.
The Oilers’ primary need since 2006 has been a legit top-pairing defenseman. They’ve taken so many forwards with top three draft picks over that span, including Hall, so conventional wisdom was they’d trade one of them for a top blueliner.
Hall should’ve been able to fetch a much better return than Larsson. Larsson wasn’t even the best defenseman on the Devils, that’s Damon Severson. The Oilers should have gotten an A+ prospect, such as Pavel Zacha, in addition to a couple of draft picks and Larsson in exchange for Hall. Even all of that might not be enough.
Other defensemen such as Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks and Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues are rumored to be available via trade, and both are better than Larsson. P.K. Subban also was traded Wednesday, and he’s obviously superior to Larsson.
Larsson maybe could develop into a No. 2 or No. 3 guy, but there’s been little in his five-year career to suggest there’s a good chance of that happening. He’s never tallied more than 24 points in a single season. His ability to drive puck possession isn’t good, either, as evidenced by his lackluster 44.59 Corsi For percentage at even strength last season.
As Jeff Chapman points out in the tweet below, former first-round pick Oscar Klefbom rates better than Larsson and he was already on Edmonton’s roster.
The Oilers have given up a prime asset — their best behind superstar-in-the-making Connor McDavid — for a player who probably won’t be better than a second-pairing defenseman. Those are the kinds of moves that get you fired and sink a franchise.
Thumbnail photo via Perry Nelson/USA TODAY Sports Images