A couple of members of the Oilers told Friedman that they believed the team wanted to make it easier for Connor McDavid to become the guy in the dressing room, calling Hall a “dominant personality”.
Ultimately, while avoiding putting down Hall, Friedman’s sources seem to suggest the Oilers made the trade for reasons other than hockey, similar to the last time Peter Chiarelli traded a top-two pick from 2010. It makes you wonder what we don’t know, because making a trade to remove Hall’s big locker room presence, only to replace him with Milan Lucic’s even bigger presence, doesn’t make a lot of sense at face value.
Meanwhile, Chiarelli told Friedman that he knew he would be parting with a significant player because “everyone knew we were looking for a defenseman”.
The trade talks between Edmonton and New Jersey picked up steam two days before the trade was finalized. The two teams had been talking since the trade deadline, initially regarding Eric Gelinas who was later traded to Colorado. According to Friedman, “at some point, Adam Larsson became central to the conversation, but no deal was ever close until the very end.”
Chiarelli asked for more than just Larsson, but Devils GM Ray Shero said they couldn’t add anyone else for cap reasons. Which seems odd, because the Devils are still hovering around the cap floor.
As suggested previously, there were other trades looked at by the Oilers leading up to the draft. Friedman suggests Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Faulk, Tyson Barrie, and Matt Dumba were all explored, but Chiarelli insists they “weren’t close on anything”. Edmonton was also kicking around a three-way trade with Columbus and Calgary, with the Oilers moving down to 6th overall to select Matthew Tkachuk or Mikhail Sergachev. Ultimately, the Oilers realized that Jesse Puljujärvi would fall to them and that would give them some flexibility to trade a winger.
As far as his post-trade phone call with Hall, Chiarelli refused to share details of the “private” conversation, but would say “there was a lot of dead air.”
Moving to the P.K. Subban blockbuster, Friedman said rumours about Subban being moved intensified in February after Canadiens coach Michel Therrien singled out Subban for a give-away that lead to a game-winning goal versus the Avalanche. Despite GM Marc Bergevin’s best effort to put a damper on media speculation around the draft, talk was running wild at the time, even drawing Canucks GM Jim Benning in, resulting in a tampering fine. Vancouver had an advantage of a high pick in play, but once it became clear that Pierre-Luc Dubois would not make it past Columbus, they were out. Colorado was unable to accept Subban’s $9MM salary, and apparently so was Edmonton. Chiarelli was unwilling to add the $9MM price tag to whatever McDavid will be making in two years.
Then Nashville offered Shea Weber. The older Weber was not what the Canadiens had been asking for – previously it had been Subban’s peers or packages of younger players. The enormity of the deal was not lost on the two teams, with one front office member saying “I think both teams had moments where they couldn’t believe what they were considering.”
Predators GM David Poile said the trade was tough, considering the major community presence of Weber. Poile said he wants to have a sit-down with Weber in the near future to tell him “how much he meant to us. It’s important he recognizes that. When a player hears he’s been traded, he doesn’t hear anything else you have to say.”
As far as the Steven Stamkos signing, Friedman revealed that the Lightning were close to moving him last summer before his no-trade clause kicked in, similar to Subban this summer. However, the front runners were the Buffalo Sabres who were unwilling to move the 2nd overall pick that would become Jack Eichel and talks died down.
Stamkos met with the Maple Leafs but decided that he didn’t want to leave, and ultimately agreed to the number proposed by GM Steve Yzerman back in the spring. Like Hall, Subban, and Weber have said post-trade, moving on is hard to take. As Friedman put it, “no doubt those same thoughts entered Stamkos’ mind too”.
Interestingly, Friedman spoke with nearly all involved in the day: Chiarelli, Poile, Hall, Subban, Yzerman, and Stamkos. Only Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin declined to speak, with one of his fellow GMs suggesting if Bergevin could have his way, “he’d never talk discuss this trade again”.