In his most recent 31 Thoughts column earlier this week, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned that now-former Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli was close to making a blockbuster trade back in 2016, just days before he traded Taylor Hall to New Jersey for Adam Larsson. Friedman, however, had no knowledge of the details of that blockbuster. However, New York Post’s Larry Brooks got a confirmation from multiple sources that the trade would have been with the New York Rangers.
Brooks reports that just before pulling the trigger on the Hall-Larsson deal, Chiarelli was close to a deal that would have sent the 2016 fourth-overall pick (used to take Jesse Puljujarvi) to the Rangers for defenseman Ryan McDonagh. The belief is that New York was interested in drafting Clayton Keller of the U.S. National Development Team with the fourth pick to begin the rebuild process then. Brooks adds there were other pieces to the deal, but points out that after the team’s first-round exit to Pittsburgh that year, the team felt it needed to re-tool their team with McDonagh being the most marketable player on the Rangers at the time.
Instead, Chiarelli turned the deal down, took Puljujarvi and sent Hall to New Jersey for Larsson, while the Rangers instead packaged Derick Brassard to Ottawa in a deal to get Mika Zibanejad. The team did discuss McDonagh with other teams at that time, including a deal with Colorado for either Nathan MacKinnon or Gabriel Landeskog, but the Avalanche weren’t that high on McDonagh’s value.
Considering how Puljujarvi has turned out in Edmonton thus far and how successful Hall has been since leaving the Oilers, the trade could have altered the outcome for Edmonton as well as Chiarelli, as McDonagh could have helped stabilize the team’s defense. However, there is no guarantee that Chiarelli still wouldn’t have moved Hall later on anyway.
Of course, the Rangers team may look quite a bit different with Keller on their team now as the 20-year-old put up a 23-goal, 65-point campaign in his rookie season last year and currently has 11 goals and 35 points this year and would have been a great piece to build around. Instead the franchise held onto McDonagh until last year’s trade deadline when they sent him and J.T. Miller to Tampa Bay in exchange for Vladislav Namestnikov, propects Libor Hajek and Brett Howden as well as a 2018 first-round pick (Nils Lundqvist) and a conditional 2019 second-rounder.