Darren Dreger had a worthwhile TSN Radio segment the other day as he did some, ahem, forensic analysis of the Oilers after their firing of "not-to-blame, but you're fired anyway" Dallas Eakins. Check it out here.
The big takeaway from the Oil Change (another joke, there) is that Taylor Hall is rumored to be playing the wrong way. He's even been referred to as "uncoachable" by a Dreger source that may or may not be Dallas Eakins. Would Taylor Hall really in this universe get traded in the prime of his young career? We're talking about either the top or the second-best left winger in hockey, drafted one spot ahead of Tyler Seguin. We're talking about one of the first players identified as bringing hope to what has been a moribund (no one ever uses that word outside of sports teams, I've noticed) franchise for quite a while now after a sniff at the Cup Final back in 2006. This would kind of be analogous to the Stars trading Seguin after being terrible for a while. Do you want to imagine a world were management is seriously talking about trading Tyler Seguin to help your team get better? That is not a world I want to think about. That is how bad things are in Edmonton, and their fans think about it all the time, lately. How does Hall feel about it?
You hear things," said Hall, who was a hot topic on Monday’s rumour mill. "Whether the rumours are true, you never really know (but) the best teams in the league don’t break up their core. They’re not trading guys because they’re winning so it’s on us to improve and do whatever we can to get respectability back this year."
"It’s tough. I got drafted by the Oilers and I love the franchise. I love the city. Standing here today, having a new coach, really makes you look in mirror and wonder what you’ve done wrong. I certainly do that." [Edmonton Journal]
But hey, there is a bright side to all of this doom and gloom. Not really for Edmonton, mind, as Craig MacTavish is bound and determined to get to the bottom of this mysterious misery behind the franchise (for which he either bears no responsibility or has "blood on [his] hands," depending on which MacTavish you've spoken with over the last couple of weeks.) Perhaps old Craiggers still has some tricks up his sleeve, however, as the Oilers did manage to extract a point out of mighty Arizona last night before losing in OT with 0.3 seconds left on an OEL goal assisted by, obviously, Sam Gagner. That might be a perfect encapsulation of the franchise right now, but it's probably best not to think about it too much. Maybe a little bit is okay. (Arizona, guys. This was not good. Come on.)
The bright side, of course, is for the other 29 teams in the league who suddenly have the prospect of acquiring one of the best players in the game. Taylor Hall is signed through 2020 with a $6 million cap hit according to CapGeek, which never lies. He has a scoring line of 100-143=243 in 271 games played. He has played for the terrible Oilers (i.e. the Oilers) his entire career, and he has still put up those numbers. If you wonder how long Hall could sustain that production (barring another friendly knee from a Brown alumnus), well, you are not alone:
Think of it this way: At the end of this year, the Oilers’ best player, Taylor Hall, will have played five NHL seasons. He’ll have played zero postseason games. He’ll never even have finished within single digits of a playoff spot. Without putting too fine a point on it, you could argue that Hall will have been in Edmonton for half a decade without ever playing a meaningful NHL game.
What does that do to a player? It’s hard to say. And yet any reasonable plan for an Oilers’ renaissance would feature Hall in a leading role, both one the ice and in the dressing room. When the losing finally stops, maybe Hall will be ready. Then again, maybe he’ll be a shell. It’s no sure thing, and the Oilers should stand as a warning to teams like the Sabres and Hurricanes who seem intent on following that rebuild blueprint, wherever it might lead them. [Grantland]
Of course the mere whisper of a player like Hall becoming available (and in this case, it's more of a "partly deaf person in a dentist's office whisper" that everyone everywhere hears clearly) causes GMs to salivate. One can only imagine what other teams thought back in 2013 when they saw Tyler Seguin being moved. ("Wait, we could have gotten THAT guy?! Aw, I should check my MySpace messages more often.") But it is certainly possible that in this case, the overt trade talk is intended to drive Hall's price up past Kingly Ransom to somewhere around Collective Global Offering to Appease Space Alien Threatening Earth's Existence. If we're talking about Jim Nill actually mentioning players, what would this look like, and would the Stars even want to consider it?
Well, we know the Oilers have needs: In no particular order, it's probably something like a 2-center behind RNH, Top-flight defensemen, and goaltending. (They're totally set other than that, though. Actually, not really, even.) Also, because you're acquiring Taylor Hall, you'll be expected to toss in some draft picks in case the NHL players flee to Pakistan rather than report to Edmonton. That way MacTavish at least has something to show for his efforts.
So before you start drooling over the thought of Taylor Hall, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin all dressing up in Valentine's Day gear together, let's posit a theory before you all let lose with your wild and fanciful speculation. The least I could ever see the Stars giving up would probably center (get it) around Jason Dickinson or Devin Shore, then Goligoski or any other NHL-ready defenseman Edmonton wanted except for Klingberg, because the Stars right now cannot afford to lose him. Throw in someone like Nichushkin (although I wonder if MacTavish would be shy about getting another player yet to really break out) or, if you're padding with some nice picks, Roussel or Eakin, and you might have a deal. Would you trade (Any D but Klingberg), Roussel or Eakin, Shore or Dickinson + a 2015 first and a 2016 second round pick for Taylor Hall and one other player or pick Edmonton will throw in? That is probably the cheapest package MacTavish would even look at from Jim Nill without trying to fire him, if my wild guess can be relied upon. (But it can't. Nobody knows. You don't know, I don't know. I'm not going to act like I know; this is just playing with names until it "feels" right without making me sad. And that usually means you're not really putting in the pieces other teams really want from your team. I felt sad about Loui and Reilly Smith leaving, even with Tyler Seguin coming to town. That's what it takes to get that level of player: making us kind of sad. What a cruel world.)
Alternatively, Edmonton might in Crazyworld be willing to talk about Kari Lehtonen+, but that's a dicey proposition for Dallas, since they don't have anyone ready to replace him--and Fasth or Scrivens isn't exactly going to solve a problem in net. Not to mention that 2014-2015 Kari Lehtonen isn't exactly buying magazine ads for himself these days. (Yet. Please get better, Kari!)
Realistically, these aren't the type of trades we've seen Nill make. He generally works quietly behind the scenes then surprises everyone with what usually looks like a somewhat balanced deal at the time, if you squint a little. Are the Stars going to acquire Taylor Hall? No, they really probably are not. But just imagine if they did, and if you would even be happy about it after you saw the price tag. Players like Hall are, in theory, worth whatever it takes to get them; but players like Hall usually don't get dealt unless the deal can be gussied up pretty well from the player's former organization. It's tough to find a realistic trade scenario that also makes the Stars significantly better than they've been this year, since Hall doesn't really solve the issues at hand.
We are talking about Jim Nill, though.
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Wednesday Links are, at long last, game day links. You can just smell the freshness from here.
You've surely seen this picture by now, but if not, check out Seguin and his buddies in their jammies. (Don't worry, it's unrelated to SNL's Jammy Shuffle.) [Instagram]
Mark Stepneski catches you up on the Texas Stars. [Stars]
This UAE writer is not a huge Stars fan, apparently. [The National]
Winnipeg's Jacob Trouba has been shut down for six weeks after an upper-body injury began to worsen. [Winnipeg Sun]
The Kings revealed their Stadium Series sweaters yesterday, and they are almost interesting. Not quite, but almost. Grey and white and grey and white and black and grey and white and grey. Also, here's a little advice for Mr. Kings: Your logo is awful and you won the cup in spite of it. Your logo is like somebody took a white magic marker and scribbled something down in the lobby after their two-year-old accidentally printed forty pages of nothing but black ink. [NHL Shop]
I would like to offer my condolences to Ryan Garbutt. When is a spear not a spear? When it's Corey Perry or John Tavares. [Puck Daddy]
With a tip o' the cap to Graham Jenkins, check out these amazing one-star Yelp reviews of NHL arenas. I think my favorite complaint is, "It's too big." [imgur]
Barry Trotz has a beautiful family, as you will see in the Epix (EPIX?) series, Road to the Winter Classic or whatever it's called. Seriously, though, I have become a big Barry Trotz fan since his arrival in Washington. [NHL Video]
Finally, OH MY GOODNESS A 20-ROUND SHOOTOUT. Did you ever want to see what Jussi Jokinen would do if he had to go again after scoring with his B move earlier? Well, now you can. This just gets insane, as the NHL record was set last night between Florida and Washington: