Taylor Hall traded from Oilers to Devils for Adam Larsson
Edmonton gets defenceman Larsson in return
The Edmonton Oilers made a stunning trade on Wednesday, sending star forward Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenceman Adam Larsson.
Hall, 24, is considered among the top young forwards in the NHL. The 2010 first-overall draft pick recorded 26 goals and 39 assists in 82 games last season. His most productive season came in 2013-14, when he posted a career-high 80 points and matched a career best with 27 goals.
Hall has 132 goals and 196 assists in 381 NHL games, all with Edmonton, and he led the Oilers in scoring for three of the last four seasons.
"I spoke with Taylor about the trade earlier today, and he was very disappointed," Oilers general manager and president of hockey operations Peter Chiarelli said. "(He) felt that he was part of the solution, and I didn't disagree with him. I just said this is a business, you have to make hard decisions.
"My roots aren't as deep in this organization as Taylor's, so I respect his emotion. I've always respected his play and his competitiveness, and he'll have a real good career going forward."
Hall feels 'slighted'
"It's tough," the 24-year-old Hall said in a conference call. "I have a pretty deep connection to the city of Edmonton. I felt I did everything I could there so it's pretty hard not to feel slighted, not to feel a little disappointed with the way everything shook out. That's hockey."
What seemed to bother Hall most was that he felt that the trade focused the blame on him for the team's losing seasons.
"I don't want to sound like I am not excited to join New Jersey," Hall said. "That's not the case. I'm a proud person and I take this as an indictment of me as a hockey player. I don't think there is any other way to treat it. I think it's safe to say I am a very motivated player right now."
Edmonton, which has used several high draft picks on forwards in recent years — including Connor McDavid No. 1 overall last year — bolsters its defence by adding Larsson. The 23-year-old Swede, who was the fourth-overall pick in 2011, had 18 points in 82 games last season while playing on the Devils' top blue-line pair.
The deal, struck two days before the NHL's free-agent signing period opens, creates salary-cap space for Edmonton. Hall has four years left on a seven-year deal that counts $6 million US against the cap annually, while Larsson will count about $4.2 million against the cap for the next five years.
"I'm pretty shocked right now, but my overall feeling is excited to come to Edmonton," Larsson told local radio station 630CHED from Sweden. "I know a couple of Swedes there ...They've got a lot of good things going and a lot of young, exciting players."
Chiarelli pointed out Larsson's upside on Wednesday.
"He moves the puck, he defends well, he can log a lot of minutes — he can play 25, 27, 28 minutes," Chiarelli said. "He can match up against all of the other top forwards, he has more skill to show also.
"It's unfortunate in these deals, this is what you have to do, but I felt it was a player that I've watched very closely this year and I can see his game trending up and it was time to act on it."
Edmonton is reportedly interested in signing free-agent forward Milan Lucic, who spent last season with Los Angeles.
With files from The Associated Press/Canadian Press