There are bombshell trades being made as we approach Free Agency Frenzy Friday.
And then there’s the one made on Wednesday afternoon by Ray Shero; a BOMBSHELL!
By obtaining left wing Taylor Hall from Edmonton for Adam Larsson, the Devils’ boss may have pulled off the steal of early summer.
Desperate for scoring, New Jersey winds up with one of the best young sharpshooters this side of Lake Louise.
“I love the deal,” Mr. Devil, Ken Daneyko tells me. “The Devils suddenly got faster, with more offensive punch and with a star-quality player who’s one of the Top-10 scorers in the NHL.
“Frankly, I thought we’d have to give up more to get Hall. I figured that a first- or second-rounder would be necessary to go with Larsson. This is a positive day for New Jersey hockey; getting such a dynamic player.”
But Shero had to pay a price for his new 24-year-old puck-meister, who led the Oilers in goals (26) assists (39) and points (65) this past season.
Exchanging Larsson, 23, for offense was a no-brainer for New Jersey’s ice boss. Anyone who worked with Hall waxes ecstatic over his skills including ex-Rangers coach Tom Renney, now President-CEO of Hockey Canada.
“Taylor can play with anyone in the game,” says Renney.
Writing in The Hockey News, Ryan Kennedy describes Hall’s skating as “explosive” for a good reason.
“Hall continues to work on his speed in the summer with sprinting, shuttle runs, agility exercises and stair running,” Kennedy explains.
As promising as Larsson has been since New Jersey picked him fourth overall in 2011 NHL Entry Draft, only a portion of that potential has been visible over five seasons with the Garden State skaters.
The rap against Larsson has been that he was too soft, failed to provide necessary offense (82 games, 3 goals, 15 assists, and 18 points this past season) and rarely excelled without veteran Andy Greene as his partner.
Reaction to the trade was swift and in Shero’s favor, especially from Canada.
TSN’s analyst Travis Yost could not be blunter: “The Oilers solidified one of the worst trades I can ever remember; certainly in the modern era.”
Vice Sports critic Sean McIndoe adds: “The Oilers traded Hall for a handful of beans. And not even magic beans. Like they reached into a dented can of baked beans.”
That’s harsh because Larsson played a lot of good hockey for New Jersey and, as Daneyko asserts, Adam still might blossom in Alberta.
Make no mistake, Hall is not the perfect forward and if there’s any knock against him it has to do with — pardon the expression — his devil-may-care attitude on the pond.
“Taylor has what you would call ‘a well-meaning kind of recklessness.’ He wants to be a difference-maker and that’s why he charges at the puck so quickly,” Ryan Kennedy observes.
A native of Calgary, Alberta, Hall was the first overall selection in the 2010 NHL Draft. He played three seasons with Windsor (OHL) from 2007-10, and registered 280 points (123 goals, 157 assists) and 138 PIM in 183 career games.
Hall, along with the current Devils’ forward Adam Henrique, helped lead the Spitfires to two Ontario Hockey League Championships and two Memorial Cup Championships (both, 2009 & 2010).
During the 2009-10 season, he led the OHL in assists, points, playoff points, played in the All- Star Game and was named to the league’s First All-Star Team.
In 2008-09, Hall paced the league in playoff goals, playoff points, earned the playoffs MVP award and was named to the league’s First All-Star Team.
The 6-foot-1, 201-pounder has skated for Team Canada at the 2010 World Junior Championships (silver medal) and at three World Championships (gold medals in 2015 & 2016).
- MONTREAL-NASHVILLE: One-for-one, the Canadiens — despite previous, intense denials that their boisterous defenseman would be traded — dispatched P.K. Subban to the Predators. In exchange, the Habs get Shea Weber.
- STEVE STAMKOS-TAMPA BAY: Defying monstrous money inviting him to the Maple Leafs, Red Wings and Sabres, Tampa Bay’s captain has agreed to stay with his one and only club. Sources report that the deal is for $8.5 million a season over eight years.
“It proves to me that hockey chivalry isn’t dead,” says Daneyko who, like Stamkos, remained with one team for his entire career. “I love what Steve has done.”
And The Maven loves that this soap opera is over!