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Dreger: Taylor Hall 'will be in play' on the trade market

Jerome Miron / USA TODAY Sports

The reeling Edmonton Oilers fired their head coach Dallas Eakins on Monday. That decision may be the first domino to fall for the Oilers in an even more significant remodeling effort, one that reportedly could see the club's best player shipped out of Northern Alberta. 

TSN's Darren Dreger, in an appearance on TSN 1050 radio in Toronto on Monday, explained that Oilers star forward Taylor Hall has failed to impress the brass with his off-ice demeanor and narrow vision of how the club should play:

It's not one player, it's the collection of players that make up a sagging work ethic and a lack of culture. But if you wanted to put a face on it, or a name to it, that would be Taylor Hall. 

Y'know, Taylor Hall, at least again from a culture standpoint - more in the room, not necessarily on the ice - hasn't been what they hoped he would be. So when [Oilers general manager] Craig MacTavish looks into his crystal ball and tries to see what might come his way via trade, he's got to be looking to the trade deadline, and then beyond that obviously to the draft floor. Because if you're moving a piece like Taylor Hall - and I believe that Taylor Hall will be in play - then the rate of return is always best when teams have flexibility in the summer.

I think it speaks from a willingness to adapt, so I am choosing my words carefully in saying that. 

I'm not in that room, so, y'know, we gather our information from the sources that we have. And my sense is that Taylor Hall has a very specific vision of how he see he needs to play, and how the team needs to play, and he isn't open, really, to the idea of change. And that's the problem.

Later in the interview Dreger offered that "MacTavish will have to see firsthand that what I said is true. If you’re moving out a franchise player like Taylor Hall, you have to be damn certain if that’s the right move for the organization."

Off-ice issues aside, Hall is one of the league's best two-way wingers. In fact, he might be the single most impactful wing player at even-strength in the entire NHL. 

In the three seasons from 2011-12 through 2013-14, Hall was third in the league in even-strength scoring rate, behind only Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Hall also drives play from the wing, and almost every skater who he's logged significant time with has done better by Corsi For percentage with Hall than they've done apart from him. 

What's clear is that Hall is not the sort of piece any NHL team trades lightly. If Hall is in fact available, or poised to become available - and it's worth noting here that Dreger was the first to report that Eakins had been fired - then that really serves to underscore the level of desperation the Oilers are feeling organizationally at the moment.

Rest assured, the cost of prying Hall away from the Oilers would be mammoth. Mammoth or not, though, there's almost no way any potential package the Oilers could net would exceed the value that Hall - an elite 23-year-old winger signed at a reasonable clip through the 2019-20 season - is likely to provide over the life of his contract. 

It seems safe to say that there are dark days ahead for Edmonton's once-storied professional hockey club.

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