There has been much written about this past summer’s blockbuster trade which sent LW Taylor Hall from Edmonton to New Jersey in exchange or D Adam Larsson; most of it critical of the Oilers side of the transaction. But Kevin McGran of TheStar.com opines that not only has the trade benefited both teams so far, it actually represents the sort of trade the Toronto Maple Leafs may have to explore in the future.
Hall already has five goals in six games for the Devils while Larsson has fit in well on Edmonton’s blue line, helping the Oilers to a 6 – 1 – 0 record. Even if Hall is considered the superior player, it still appears as if the deal has worked out in both team’s favor.
McGran argues that the Leafs, much like Edmonton, have a lot of highly-skilled forwards but a lingering deficiency on the blue line. Toronto has some interesting players on defense – Nikita Zaitsev, Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly, for example – but with Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak seeing regular playing time and with few prospects of particular note in the system, it’s clear the Leafs could use more young talent on the back end. While it’s possible the youngsters already on Toronto’s roster develop into a decent group of blue liners, it’s more likely the Leafs may eventually have to instead consider dealing from a position of strength – scoring wing – to address a weakness – defense. And just as the Oilers had to do, the Leafs might have to sacrifice a talented and popular player – and perhaps even a better player than the one they acquire – in order to fix the issues on the blue line.
The scribe does note that the Leafs likely won’t have to make that decision right away; that they likely have a year or two to see how things shake out.
More from around the NHL:
- Goal-scoring is up around the league with a per-game-average of 5.91 markers to date. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case in Vancouver where the Canucks have averaged just two goals per game, the lowest rate in the NHL. Writing for The Province, Jason Botchford highlights some disturbing trends suggesting the Canucks offensive issues are likely to linger throughout the season. Botchford notes that the team is dead last in even-strength, score-adjusted shot-attempt differential and suggests that trend will place additional pressure on Vancouver’s special teams. But through seven games, the Canucks have converted on just 12.5% of their man-advantage chances. Two players the Canucks expected and needed to step up this season have yet to do so. Defenseman Ben Hutton has recorded just a single goal while winger Sven Baertschi has failed to find the back of the net. As Botchford writes, the Canucks have talent but perhaps not enough depth at this point.
- Earlier today we learned the Rangers waived Dylan McIlrath. The former first-round pick had appeared in just one game and was the eighth defenseman on the team’s depth chart. As Larry Brooks of the New York Post noted via Twitter, the Rangers simply weren’t going to keep eight defensemen on the roster all season. Brooks also believes the chances of McIlrath getting claimed is “50-50.”