New Jersey Devils Will Miss Adam Larsson, But Taylor Hall is Worth It

Mar 18, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall (4) looks for a pass against the Vancouver Canucks at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall (4) looks for a pass against the Vancouver Canucks at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils made a blockbuster trade Wednesday, sending defenseman Adam Larsson to Edmonton in exchange for LW Taylor Hall. Larsson showed significant improvement and solidified his spot on the Devils top pair last season, but this was an opportunity the Devils could not afford to pass up.

Despite there being a significant amount of noise and speculation over the past several months regarding the potential match between the offensively starved New Jersey Devils and the defensively deprived Edmonton Oilers as trade partners, many fans planted themselves firmly into the, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” category.

Well, here it is for all the world to see.

Next: New Jersey Devils Trade Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall

The Devils and Oilers sent a major jolt through the hockey world Wednesday afternoon, when it was announced that Edmonton was sending 2010 first overall pick Taylor Hall to the Garden State, and in return, 2011 fourth overall pick Adam Larsson was packing his bags for Festival City. What promptly followed was an internet explosion, mostly made up of Oilers fans distraught to see their prized left winger, who many viewed as a franchise cornerstone along with Connor McDavid, dealt away for what they viewed as an unimpressive, unexciting, and unproductive defenseman in Larsson. I am not here to tell you that Edmonton General Manager Peter Chiarelli did well in acquiring Larsson for Hall, and I would never go so far as to suggest that Chiarelli got close to equal value – I am here to tell you, however, that Larsson is the type of player that the Oilers need, and he will do well in Edmonton. That will still be overshadowed by the return that the Devils received in exchange for the young Swede.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

Larsson has certainly gone through some growing pains in his time with New Jersey, but the 2015-2016 season proved to be the one in which he entrenched himself on the Devils top defensive pairing with Andy Greene. This past year, Larsson played in all 82 games for the Devils, averaged over 22 minutes per game, and on a team that finished -20 in goal differential, Larsson finished the season with an impressive +15 rating. The competition he played against on a nightly basis should not be overlooked – he and Greene logged heavy minutes against the league’s best, including division opponents they saw most often, the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Claude Giroux, and John Tavares. Larsson is a smooth skater, plays with a big frame at 6’3″, 205 pounds, and most people believe his greatest attribute on the ice is his sound positioning. While no one will confuse him with Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns, Larsson is also a competent puck mover, capable of making a clean first pass out of the defensive zone or a stretch pass through the neutral zone. For a team in Edmonton that finished with a goal differential of -43, and 27th in the NHL in goals against per game (2.95), Larsson can provide the Oilers with some much needed stability, and will most likely slot right into their top pairing on defense.

Despite all that, acquiring Larsson still cost the Oilers dearly.

Taylor Hall can play. More importantly, Taylor Hall can play offense. In 381 career NHL games, Hall has totaled 132 goals and 196 assists for 328 points. We can look at those numbers in a few different ways. Hall is a 0.86 point per game player for his career. If we take those numbers and apply them to a full 82 game season, it equates to 28 goals and 42 assists, or 70 points per season. In the lockout-shortened season of 2012-2013, Hall was playing at greater than a point per game pace with 50 points in 45 games. He continued that trend the next year in 2013-2014, racking up 80 points in 75 games. Hall has scored 25 goals or more three separate times in his career, and on a team that has a collective +/- rating of -296 since he made his NHL debut in 2010, Hall has maintained a very respectable career rating of -27, finishing worse than -9 only once in his career.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

In terms of more advanced stats, Hall is near the top of the league in points/60 minutes played during 5-on-5 play, which is a stat many believe measures the true effectiveness of a player when it comes to scoring. In the past three years, Hall ranks 7th in the NHL among players with at least 3,000 minutes played over those three years, with 2.38 points/60, finding himself immediately in front of the likes of Matt Duchene and John Tavares. Hall is also known for his blazing speed, which certainly fits into Ray Shero’s team model of “fast, attacking, supportive.” At the risk of stating the extremely obvious, the Devils could use more goals – they finished dead last in the NHL last season, scoring only 182 goals, or 2.22 per game. When looking ahead into the future, it is important to note that Hall is signed for four more years, through the 2020 season, at what should be seen as a very reasonable $6 million per year.

As far as where Hall will ultimately fit into New Jersey’s lineup, that much remains to be seen. Hall and new teammate Adam Henrique played together in their OHL days for the Windsor Spitfires, where they combined for 183 points in 54 games together in 2009-2010. However, that decision will most likely have to wait until free agency is over and the Devils can take stock of their completed roster. Shero has until Friday to negotiate deals with the RFA’s he chose not to qualify, including Beau Bennett, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Jon Merrill, before they hit unrestricted free agency. Certainly Smith-Pelly and Bennett will occupy two spots in the forward rotation, assuming they are signed. Perhaps Shero will attempt to bring in another forward via free agency.

Next: Beau Bennett is NOT another Kyle Palmieri

For now, Devils fans should rejoice. While Oilers fans should probably take a collective step back from the ledge that they’re considering leaping off of, there’s no question that in terms of talent, the Devils got the better end of this deal. Taylor Hall should make an immediate and drastic impact in Newark beginning in October.