In a stunning move that shook up the hockey world, New Jersey just improved their team leaps and bounds. While it is hard to give up Larsson, who developed into a top pair shutdown defenseman, you have to give to get. Shero was willing to take the risk. It’s the kind of ballsy move a smart executive does without hesitation.
In adding the ultra talented Hall, the Devils finally have a star player who can both score and set up goals. The 24-year old led the Oilers in goals (26), assists (39) and points (65) in 82 games this past season. The former 2010 number one overall pick was put on the block with rumors circulating that Edmonton was hot after July 1 free agent Milan Lucic. With the club needing to address their back end, they were willing to part with Hall to get Larsson. A steady right-handed smooth skating defenseman who can fill a void.
While the 23-year old Larsson has never evolved offensively, he’s the kind of skating and positional defenseman who teams crave in today’s game. The Oilers had been after him for a while. The former Devils’ 2011 fourth overall selection completed ’15-16 with three goals, 15 assists, 77 penalty minutes and a plus-15 rating in a full 82.
In terms of contract status, Larsson is signed thru 2021 with an average cap hit of $4.167 million. He’ll team with Darnell Nurse as Edmonton’s projected top pair followed by Oscar Klefbom and Andrej Sekera if he isn’t moved.
As for Hall, he is signed thru 2020 and makes $6 million per year. On paper, it looks like a steal for the Devils. Getting this kind of significant talent for a solid two is grand larceny. What are the Oilers smoking? Granted. They boast plenty of scoring led by emerging superstar Connor McDavid followed by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Leon Draisaitl. They also had Finnish prospect Jesse Puljujarvi fall into their lap at number four thanks to the Blue Jackets’ lunacy.
If you’re a Devil fan, you gotta be psyched. Suddenly, you have a much better lineup up front. Built around Hall, Adam Henrique, whose production should spike, Mike Cammalleri, Kyle Palmieri, Reid Boucher, Devante Smith-Pelly and Travis Zajac, the Devils have the look of a playoff team. Don’t forget Joseph Blandisi and future star Pavel Zacha.
The blue line will take a hit. But they still have Andy Greene, Damon Severson, Jon Merrill and John Moore. They do have some guys in the system. Seth Helgeson and Raman Hrabarenka and Steven Santini. However, keep in mind the Devils also have plenty of cap space. So, if they want to upgrade the back end, it should be no problem.
There’s only one thing you can conclude. This is a home run for the Devils. Shero hit it out of the park. As for the Oilers, that’s why they’re the Oilers. A dysfunctional organization in a utter state of chaos.