The Edmonton Oilers shook the hockey world last June when they traded superstar forward Taylor Hall for defenseman Adam Larsson.
General manager Peter Chiarelli had a lot of reasoning behind the deal. He justified his actions, saying that while Hall was an outstanding player, the team needed a change and stronger defense.
Now, considering how far the Oilers are into the season, we pose the question many are curious to understanding: is Edmonton better off?
Comparing the Numbers
Number-wise, the Oilers surely are missing Hall’s offense. In 20 games, he has eight goals and 20 points, proving to be a huge part of the Devils’ scoring. While the Oilers are getting necessary offense from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, their other offensive forwards, including Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are struggling to find their touch.
By the same token, Milan Lucic isn’t putting in too much offense and appears streaky at times. He doesn’t have the same speed and stamina that Hall displayed, and on the ice merely appears as a big, physical presence.
Comparing the Culture
Edmonton is much better off considering the culture in the locker room.
There was plenty of debate as to whether or not Hall created pure pessimism in the dressing room. This was made evident following his “no-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel” comments in his exit interview.
When it comes to Lucic’s presence in the locker room, he is a great leader who provides a lot more than Hall ever brought the team. McDavid is just one player who sees what Lucic brings as a replacement for Hall.
The off-ice impact is surely bigger than the on-ice, and it shows in Edmonton’s numbers this season. It’s the middle of December, and the Oilers are tied for first place in the Pacific Divison. Usually, by this time, they would be out of the picture, and thinking negatively. But now, this team has some kind of
Usually, by this time, they would be out of the picture, and thinking negatively. But now, this team has some kind of potential and a lot of that can surely be attributed to the mentality in the locker room.
When it comes to the product of Adam Larsson, the Oilers are getting something close to what they need. First off, Larsson is an excellent defender who can eat minutes and provide physicality night in and night out.
He has decent numbers this season, including two goals, six points, 97 hits and 54 shot blocks. Statistically, that all looks good on paper, though his -2.2 relative Fenwick is a bit concerning when it comes to possession.
Overall, his on-ice addition has helped the Oilers where they needed it. He works great with Oscar Klefbom and is an excellent skater. The 24-year-old Swedish blueliner is a force to be reckoned with on the ice and does what Edmonton expected from him.
While the Oilers clearly miss the offense and skill that came with Hall (considering they don’t have a stable, consistent winger up front to score), they are better off. This is a team that has more optimism and potential, and they appear closer.
This group is better off without Hall, whether or not Larsson or Lucic are defying expectations. What really matters at the end of the day are the results on the scoreboard. At the end of the day, the Oilers are definitely a stronger group.