For too long, the Edmonton Oilers have been an easy mark. For too long, their young players have been in a losing culture and have learned their lessons well. For too long they’ve been too complacent, not physical enough and seemed to accept losing a little too easily.
That ends. Now.
Signing Milan Lucic to a seven-year deal worth $42 million will instantly transform the Oilers dressing room from a country club to a boot camp. Lucic will be to the Oilers what Gary Roberts was to the Carolina Hurricanes, a veteran player with some snarl and a pedigree that will come in and make his young teammates accountable. In short, Lucic gives the Oilers an identity.
Less than 24 hours before the free agency period begins, several NHL teams got to work on some housekeeping Thursday. Six teams placed players on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout. The NHL’s buyout window closes at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday.
There had already been some notable buyouts, including the Canucks’ Chris Higgins, the Wild’s Thomas Vanek, and the Blue Jackets Fedor Tyutin.
The Blue Jackets got back to work on Thursday, buying out the final year of right winger Jared Boll’s contract. Boll, 30, scored one goal in 30 games in 2015-16.
During a 2011 NHL playoff game between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins, iconic ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ play-by-play man Bob Cole exclaimed ‘Everything is happening!” during a frantic series of play.
It has become a go-to saying for hockey fans, especially on Twitter, during periods of excitement or big news. It can definitely be applied to what happened on Wednesday afternoon.
While many fans, pundits, and media sat and waited for big news to start happening on Friday during the official start of free agency, several teams swooped in and made a series of blockbuster moves. Each move on its own could have carried a news cycle for a day, but three came in such rapid succession that it nearly “broke the internet”, as they say.
Here’s a timeline of what went down on Wednesday:
For a fleeting moment, before P.K. Subban, Shea Weber and Steven Stamkos stole the spotlight, Wednesday’s blockbuster trade between the Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils was the off-season’s biggest story. Left winger Taylor Hall for defenseman Adam Larsson. One player for the other. No salary retained.
The transaction was…poorly received by the Edmonton Oilers fanbase judging by the social media response. “Worst trade in NHL history” isn’t a term tossed about lightly, but it popped up repeatedly. Taylor Hall is among the best left wingers in the game, blessed with major speed and scoring ability. He was the first overall pick of the 2010 draft. His 0.86 points per game since arriving in the NHL in 2010-11 ranks 26th, ahead of Joe Pavelski, Vladimir Tarasenko and Tyler Seguin over that stretch. Hall even made a concerted effort to improve his defensive ability under new coach Todd McLellan this season. Hall had the second best 5-on-5 relative Corsi on the Oilers after Brandon Davidson among regulars with 400 or more minutes played, per puckalytics.com. Better yet, Hall has four years left on his contract at a $6-million cap hit. That’s quite reasonable.
But now Hall is a New Jersey Devil. Only one man, Larsson, heads the other way. Losing Larsson, who had begun to mature into a big-minutes NHL defenseman, leaves a gaping hole on New Jersey’s blueline, but it was clearly a “who cares” trade for GM Ray Shero. You don’t pass up Hall for Larsson. You fix your D-corps later.
When the off-season began, the Edmonton Oilers and GM Peter Chiarelli made it known acquiring a defenseman was their top priority. On Wednesday, they got one — but paid a very steep price.
The Oilers sent left winger Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson in a stunning 1-for-1 trade.
Hall, 24, scored 26 goals in 2015-16 and has averaged 23.2 goals over his five full NHL seasons. He was the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, and has developed into an elite goal-scoring winger at even strength, and was in consideration for Canada’s team at the World Cup. He is under contract until 2019-20 at an annual cap hit of $6 million.
As the July 1 opening day of the 2016 NHL unrestricted free agent market approaches, speculation is heating up over potential destinations of the top free-agent stars.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes the Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, and Toronto Maple Leafs are interested in bidding for Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos. He also thinks the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins could join them.
On Sunday, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News cited a report in the Toronto Star claiming the Sabres reached out to the Stamkos camp to gauge his interest in coming to Buffalo. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels, meanwhile, reports the Canadiens will chase Stamkos, though they face long odds of signing him.
With the 2016 NHL draft now history, here’s a look at some notable speculation that emerged from the weekend.
All eyes are firmly upon the Tampa Bay Lightning and their contract talks with pending unrestricted free agent center Steven Stamkos. Since Friday evening, he and his fellow UFAs can speak to rival clubs.
It’s believed Lightning GM Steve Yzerman pitched an eight-year offer to Stamkos worth $8.5 million annually. If Stamkos feels he can do better on the open market, he won’t lack for suitors.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Yzerman said he’ll keep all options open regarding Stamkos. He didn’t rule out the possibility of a sign-and-trade.
BUFFALO – On Day 2 of the draft, team preference plays such a huge role in when kids get picked. But for my money, there were some definite winners by round. In some cases, it was teams that made solid multiple selections. In other cases, it was a matter of the value they got in one player. Here are my winners for Day 2.