Taylor Hall (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
With Dallas Eakins relieved of his coaching duties in Edmonton, all eyes have turned to Taylor Hall and the possibility of trading the 2010 first overall pick. No matter what the Oilers could possibly get back in return, however, it may not be enough to make dealing Hall worth it.
The Edmonton Oilers firing of head coach Dallas Eakins prompted speculation over potential roster changes. It's believed Oilers management will consider all options going forward, including the possibility of trading star left wing Taylor Hall.
TSN's Darren Dreger reports of a “sagging work ethic” and lack of a winning culture among the Oilers' players, suggesting Hall hasn't been what the front office expected “from a culture standpoint.” Dreger believes the 23-year-old Hall will be in play in the trade market and believes the best return could be had during the summer, perhaps at the NHL Draft in June.
Oilers GM Craig MacTavish spent several weeks seeking help for his floundering roster via the trade market. During a press conference on Dec. 5, MacTavish stated he wouldn't make any knee-jerk moves and wasn't prepared to move his core players.
If MacTavish has changed his mind and is at least willing to entertain offers for Hall, Dreger believes he must ensure it's the best move for the Oilers. However, he also said if Hall convinces MacTavish and incoming head coach Todd Nelson he's “unquestionably” part of the solution, the Oilers won't move the young winger.
Reaction from the Edmonton media was strongly against trading Hall. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson acknowledges trading the Oilers' best player should fetch a great return. However, he considers Hall “close to untouchable”, citing his skills, energy and popularity among Oilers fans. Jonathan Willis considers trading Hall a “bad idea”, believing it means trading for “inferior talent at another position.”
Hall, meanwhile, acknowledged the rumors and said he and his teammates had to take responsibility for Eakins' downfall and improve their performance.
The Oilers are unquestionably in a bad way right now. They're all but certain to miss the playoffs for the ninth straight season and will once again be in contention for the first-overall pick in the NHL draft. Management has failed to suitably build around the promising youngsters (Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov) they acquired in recent years. Empty seats are becoming more noticeable at Oilers' home games. There's no real signs of short- or long-term improvement.
They have many needs to be addressed. They lack an experienced starting goalie, a top-two defenseman, an established second-line center and experienced defensive up on the blueline and their checking lines. Trading Hall might address some of these needs, but he won't bring back an elite goaltender or defenseman.
Goalies who could be available include Toronto's James Reimer, San Jose's Antti Niemi or either Jhonas Enroth or Michal Neuvirth of the Buffalo Sabres, depending upon which one they re-sign before season's end. Washington's Mike Green, Buffalo's Tyler Myers and Arizona's Keith Yandle are among the notable names currently kicking around the rumor mill. None of these players are worthwhile centerpieces of a package offer for Hall.
As tempting as trading Hall could be, the Oilers won't get a fair return because they are dealing from a position of weakness. He's a franchise player, considered one of the best left wings in the league. That's the type of player worth building around. Unless Hall asks to be dealt, trading him isn't a practical solution.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.