Oilers continue road trip, gear up for Devils (Jan 07, 2017)

On June 29 last summer, the Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils rocked the hockey world with a bold trade of former first-round draft picks, Taylor Hall and Adam Larsson.

Now, more than six months later, Hall and the Devils (16-17-7) will face Larsson and the Oilers (20-13-7) for the first time since that mega deal, when the teams clash Saturday night at the Prudential Center.

“It’s going to be fun to go back,” Larsson said after practice on Friday. “It’s a different chapter now, though; and it’s all positive from the (Oilers) organization, from the (new) rink to the teammates to the city of Edmonton. We have something good going on here. It’s going to be a fun game.”

Last summer’s trade was a blockbuster, and one where each team filled a definite void on its roster. New Jersey acquired the 25-year-old Hall, a four-time 20-goal scorer and former first overall selection in the NHL Draft; while Edmonton added the 24-year-old Larsson, a solid defenseman who was the fourth overall pick in 2011.

“It’s going to be a super strange atmosphere for me,” Hall said to NorthJersey.com about facing his former club. “The quicker I put that aside and just focus on playing hockey and just focus on my contribution to (the Devils), I think that’s the best way to go.”

Both teams are happy with the deal, though it is the Oilers who have achieved more success to date than the Devils.

Edmonton currently sits in third place in the Pacific Division, and is hopeful of reaching the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in 11 years. Larsson has played in all 40 games for the Oilers, is averaging more than 20 minutes of ice time per contest, and has been credited with a team-high 119 hits.

The Devils, on the other hand, are tied for the third-fewest points in the Eastern Conference, and are in danger of missing the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season. Hall, despite missing 10 games due to injury this year, has been a bright spot for New Jersey with a team-best 25 points (9-16-25).

Saturday’s contest will be the second in as many nights for the Devils, who were defeated by the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2, Friday night at the Prudential Center. That loss snapped a two-game winning streak, their first consecutive wins since early December. New Jersey is 4-10-1 in its last 15 games.

“Clearly, we’ll be facing another high-powered offensive team similar to Toronto (on Saturday),” said Devils goalie Cory Schneider, who was pulled against the Maple Leafs after playing fewer than 15 minutes, having allowed three goals on five shots. “If I’m in, obviously, I’ll have to have a good bounce back game.”

Defenseman Jon Merrill scored his first goal of the season in Friday’s loss, while P.A. Parenteau netted his sixth in the past 12 games and now has 12 on the year.

“We know these guys come out hard right from the get go, especially at home,” Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said of the Devils. “So, we have to be prepared for that and have a good start ourselves.”

The Oilers will be playing the third game of a four-game road trip that concludes Sunday in Ottawa. Edmonton opened the trip with a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday before skating to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins two nights later.

Patrick Maroon recorded a hat trick in Thursday’s win and goaltender Cam Talbot made 33 saves. Maroon now has 14 goals and is tied with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for the team lead. For his part, McDavid had two assists Thursday and leads the National Hockey League with 45 points.

Edmonton is 5-1-2 in its last eight games overall, and a solid 11-6-5 so far this season on the road.