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JONES: Taylor Hall was never returning to Edmonton Oilers – Edmonton Sun

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A ridiculous percentage of Edmonton hockey fans, with no good reason, got their hopes up for a Taylor Hall return to the Oilers.

It never made much sense.

First, while mid-December is awful early for such a thing, Hall is headed for free agency and is leaving New Jersey as a rental.

What would general manager Ken Holland want with a rental?

I don’t know how many times I’m going to end up reprinting this Holland quote this year, but …

“You’re hearing this over and over again from me. On the short term we’re trying to make decisions on 2019-2020, but ultimately, I’m trying to build this team to be a really good elite team in the Western Conference.”

Why would Holland give up a bunch of assets to get a player for 45 games?

Yes, Taylor Hall back in Oilers gear would play well with the fan base that loved the guy when he was here and won the Hart Trophy after he left.

But the Oilers have no money to pay $3.6-million for the rest of this season.

And with what Hall is likely looking for going forward, the one mega-money contract of his career, they wouldn’t likely have the $8-million or so he’d likely want going forward, which is a lot for a second line left winger on this team.

Edmonton needs to do exactly what Holland is doing. Draft. And develop, develop, develop.

Look at what the Arizona Coyotes gave up to get Hall.

One locked-in first round draft pick plus a conditional first round draft pick if the Coyotes re-sign Hall and win a playoff round.

Also there’s former first-round pick Nick Merkley (30th in 2015) and forward Nate Schnarr (third round, 75th overall in 2017) both currently being developed in the AHL.

There’s also defenceman Kevin Bahl, a second rounder in 2018, still playing junior for Ottawa 67’s.

That’s a lot of birds in the bush. And the first rounder and conditional first rounder aren’t likely to be lottery picks.

Compared to the stay-at-home defenceman the Devils got for Hall in the first place, you’d have to say New Jersey did a helluva deal if you look at the trade this way:

Adam Larsson for a first round draft choice, a conditional first round draft choice three prospects that were first, second and third-round draft choices.

But, again, Hall is a rental.

And he’s a left-winger.

Holland was never going to be trading away first-round draft picks, conditional or otherwise, to get a rental in December. Or at the trade deadline.

Yes, it would have been interesting with the trade bait that is Jesse Puljujarvi. But to give up Philip Broberg, Evan Bouchard? There was never a chance.

Without question Taylor Hall would have helped the biggest current concern, all that ice time that is wearing Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl down and causing defensive lapses on their part and the inability of this team to compete five-on-five.

Hall is excellent five-on-five.

And I don’t buy the opinion out there that Arizona made a mistake because quote-unquote “Taylor Hall is not a winner.”

Yes, he hasn’t done any winning in his NHL career. But he won two Memorial Cups and was MVP in the junior classic as well as an MVP in a NHL regular season. And he’s likely learned a whale of a lesson on the value of teammates.

Make no mistake. The dud of a deal by then general manager Peter Chiarelli has just come back and become a double whammy on Edmonton.

Obviously Hall makes Arizona better.

Going into games Monday night, the Coyotes and Oilers had both played 35 games and Arizona had just replaced Edmonton in first place in the Pacific Division, two points up on the Oilers.

With his hands handcuffed by the salary cap situation of the team he took over, Holland is returning from a scouting trip to Russia with his team in a slump and trying to make it to Christmas in possession of a playoff position.

Holland built several bridges to get the team to being in contention at this point of the season while players developed on the farm.

It’s getting close to the point where he’s going to have to decide whether they need a full season in Bakersfield or are getting close.

I suspect he’s leaning to the full season in most of their cases.

But the Hall deal likely means he’s going to have to try get creative with some of the spare parts he has to solve the Dynamic Duo ice time issue and the five-on-five situation that has been a result.

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New York Rangers get OK to interview Gerard Gallant for coaching job

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The New York Rangers plan to interview Gerard Gallant for their head coaching job, TSN reported.

The Vegas Golden Knights, who fired Gallant during the 2019-20 season, reportedly have granted permission.

A first conversation between the Rangers and Gallant was expected to take place quickly, before Gallant heads to Latvia to coach Team Canada at the IIHF World Championship, which runs from May 21-June 6.

Gallant, 57, was the first coach of the expansion Golden Knights and led them to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season in 2017-18. The Washington Capitals won in five games.

He was fired 49 games into his third season when the team was 24-19-6, and he had an overall record of 118-75-20 with Vegas.

He also coached the Columbus Blue Jackets (2003-07) and Florida Panthers (2014-17) and has a career record of 270-216-4-51 in 541 career games as a head coach.

The Rangers are in the midst of an overhaul. They fired head coach David Quinn and three assistant coaches on Wednesday, following the dismissal last week of team president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton.

The Rangers failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth straight season after posting a 27-23-6 record in 2020-21. They finished in fifth place in the East Division.

Quinn, 54, compiled a 96-87-25 record during his three seasons as coach of the Rangers after taking over for Alain Vigneault on May 23, 2018.

–Field Level Media

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NHL wants answer on Canada border crossing soon

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The NHL has asked the Canadian government for a decision by June 1 about U.S. teams crossing the border during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, ESPN reported Friday.

 

The Canadian teams played only each other during the 2020-21 season in a revamped North Division because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that will continue during the first two rounds of the playoffs. It’s what happens after that — in the semifinals and finals — that is up in the air.

 

“The conversations are ongoing. We’ve told them we really do need to know by the end of the first round, and that’s around June 1,” Steve Mayer, the league’s chief content officer, told ESPN. “That’s pretty much the date that we’ve talked to them about, saying we have to know one way or another.”

 

Last season, the playoffs were held in bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto.

 

Under current rules, American-based teams couldn’t play in Canada without mandatory quarantines, which would make travel for home-and-away games impossible under the playoff calendar.

 

The NHL and government representatives last talked a week ago, and the Canadian officials submitted a variety of questions for the league’s response.

 

In the interim, Mayer said, the league has discussed the possibility of the Canadian team that advances from the North Division being based in the U.S. for the duration of the postseason. Talks have occurred with officials at NHL arenas where teams didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

 

An NHL source told ESPN this week that the league expects “a positive resolution” to the issue, however.

 

–Field Level Media

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Canada to play 2 more home World Cup qualifiers in U.S.

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As Canada continues to wrestle with the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s national soccer team will play two more of its home World Cup qualifying matches south of the border in June.

Canada will face Aruba in Bradenton, Fla., on June 5, and will take on Suriname in suburban Chicago on June 8, Canada Soccer confirmed Monday.

The games are Canada‘s last two of four matches in CONCACAF Group B. A March 26 Canadian home match against Bermuda was held in Orlando, Fla., which Canada won 5-1. Also, the Caymen Islands were the host team on March 29, when Canada rolled, 11-0.

Only one national team advances to the next round, and Canada and Suriname top the group and the game against Suriname in Bridgeview, Ill., figures to be the deciding match in both teams’ efforts to advance.

Thirty nations from Central and North America are competing in this first round with six group winners advancing to a second round of head-to-head knockout matches for the right to compete in the CONCACAF final round of eight teams competing for four places in the 2022 World Cup. A fifth team from CONCACAF advances to an intercontinental play-in round.

As was executed in Orlando, the match in Chicago will be staged in accordance with the FIFA International Match Protocols supported by the relevant public health requirements.

“We had hoped to play these matches at home with Canadian fans providing the support and momentum to play a tough nation like Suriname in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers,” said John Herdman, coach of the Canadian men’s national team. “The reality of the global pandemic and the priority to keep our communities in Canada safe means the match will be played at a neutral site in Chicago with no home advantage, but we will embrace that challenge.

“Whatever comes at us, we will take it on and do whatever we need to do to advance to the next round.”

-Field Level Media

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