Oilers general manger Peter Chiarelli thinks Edmonton fans will come around.
“There’s an uproar I guess as to trading Taylor and I can understand that,” Chiarelli said during his Prime Time Sports appearance on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Thursday. “He was a real good performer for them, he’s a good person but at the end of the day we have to improve this team and we have to improve it on the back end.”
The Oilers had an impressive group of young forwards, even before Jesse Puljujarvi fell into their lap at the 2016 NHL Draft. According to Chiarelli, if the Finnish winger had been unavailable at the No. 4 spot he would have picked a defenceman, though the GM wouldn’t say whether or not the Hall trade would have still gone through.
Edmonton is still searching for its first playoff appearance since 2006, and Chiarelli believes Larsson pushes the Oilers closer to that goal even though the price was steep.
“We all hear ‘changing the culture’ and all that, that’s part of a GM’s job is to foster good culture and winning culture and that’s my job,” he said. “(It’s) no indictment on any one player, and (Hall) was the cost to get that player.”
By trading Hall and his $6-million cap hit, the Oilers do save themselves some space for when it comes time to pay Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Larsson comes with a $4.16-million cap hit for the next five seasons.
“You got some players at high salaries, or will get high salaries in the next few years, and Adam’s contract is a very cap-friendly contract the way it’s structured,” said Chiarelli. “It pays him competitively but the way it’s structured, it’s very cap-friendly.
“So here we have a guy who, worst thing, is a top-pair guy — or he’s trending in that direction — at a very reasonable cost on a long-term contract when we’re going to have other guys we’re going to have to sign to keep.”
Larsson, who alongside Andy Greene was relied on heavily by the Devils as a shutdown defenceman last season, joins an Oilers blue line that now has four promising contributors (Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Brandon Davidson) under age 25. Add that to Andrej Sekera and you can make out a situation on the back end that looks a lot better than it has in recent years.
Still, Chiarelli has a few more moves he’d like to make this off-season, both through trade and free agency. The GM said he’s currently working “three or four different things, both (on) forward and D,” but that he won’t be sure how close he is until July 1. He did mention that he’s taken two of his targets on a tour of the brand new Rogers Place as a way to recruit them.
“I think we’ve done everything we can do and we’ll see tomorrow,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of speculation but I don’t know.
“I’ve been through enough of these days and the proceeding days – and especially with this new shopping period – anything can happen.”