Does Devlish Deal Doom Dallas' Defensive Dealings?
Three deals significantly impacted the competitive landscape across the entire NHL yesterday. For Dallas, none are more significant than the price Edmonton paid to pry Adam Larsson out of New Jersey. How can a deal between a Western Conference laughing stock and Eastern Conference also-ran impact Da
Stamkos and Weber and Subban, oh my. Wednesday was throwback, pre-cap NHL. It was Gretzky to LA, Lindros to Philadelphia, or Roy to Colorado levels of weird. It was a day that would make even batscratch crazy Mike Milbury look up from this month's issue of Idiot Quarterly and take notice. It was also the day Edmonton finally made a trade and sent Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson. It was a straight up deal, no picks, no salary, just a body for a body as two teams (presumably) try to make themselves better.
But none of these teams are the Stars, you say. None of this really matters. First off, why would you say that? It's hurtful. Baseless. I feel like you owe me an apology, but in lieu of that, I ask you to hear me out. I bring up this particular trade because Larsson for Hall should be viewed as a bucket of freezing water for any armchair Stars GMs.
Adam Larsson is the name I'm focused on, and has been a familiar one over the last season and a half, or thereabouts. Think back to pre-Klingberg days, to when the Stars' backline was an under-fire bunch perpetually on the hook for the squad's shortcomings (thank goodness we're past that). In certain circles, Larsson was the guy to bring in to replace the likes of Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski, or to at least shove them down the lineup into more appropriate roles.
And why not? Larsson has a pretty appealing profile. At 6'3" and 206 lbs, the now-23-year old right-handed Swede measures up physically. Statistically, there is evidence to suggest a quality player. Despite playing for several limited Devils teams, Larsson has averaged more than 20 minutes TOI in all but two of his professional seasons (2012-13 and 2013-14), and has put up double-digit points in two consecutive seasons (24 points in 2014-15 and 18 points last year). It would be nice to see better possession numbers (48% CF / 48.1% FF), but again, young player, suspect team.
Adam Larsson is a perfectly fine, possibly intriguing young defender, and thanks to yesterday's trade, we now know his market rate. That's the part of this deal that should be of interest to Stars fans pondering how GM Jim Nill might go about filling the hole left by Alex Goligoski, or the possible departures of Jason Demers and Kris Russell.
Taylor Hall is a former first overall pick. Hall has topped 20 goals on four separate occasions, and sits just behind Jamie Benn (2.54) and Sidney Crosby (2.71) with 2.49 even strength points per 60 minutes since 2012. That's a 255 game sample size. It's also part of a career that has, so far, produced 328 total points (132 G / 196 A) in 381 games. On the side, Hall won gold medals with Team Canada at the 2015 and 2016 World Cups.
Durability is a concern, but only to a degree. Taylor Hall is predictable and elite. He's a first-freaking round pick that's largely lived up to the hype, and he just got flipped for an "interesting" defenseman. Meanwhile, Montreal acquired Shea Weber and is getting blasted for making a bad deal. The market for defensive help is absurd, and in a league increasingly demanding mobility and skill, is only going to get worse.
Put away dreams of flipping Cody Eakin and a pick for help. For that matter, in a Hall-for-Larsson world, you might as well right off the likes of Valeri Nichushkin or Brett Ritchie while you're at it. We're living in an "and" world now, baby. Blame Edmonton's GM, Peter Chiarelli for blowing up the value structure for the rest of the league, or just blame the evolution of the game. If the Stars want NHL-level help, they're now looking at multiple premium assets moving the opposite direction unless they're willing to carve already-contributing players off the roster.
It certainly explains the long leashes given to Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak.