It's way too difficult to say that 2021 is the year the Devils become true cup contenders, but not before or after, and Adam Larsson would put them over the top. There's still plenty of moves to be made in that time. If trading for Hall puts them on the clock at 3 years, than keeping Larsson puts them on the clock at 4 years. Both players could very well leave/have left the Devils, or they could stay. It's not fair to judge that trade based on what a player might do in 3 years.
I know, and I don't disagree that we would've probably been more likely to re-sign him down the road. But remember how badly we needed NHL-ready, top-end forwards last season (and still do)? Passing up a Hall for Larsson swap because one might be more likely to re-sign in 5 years can't be justified unless the chances of one re-signing versus the other are wildly different. Larsson may have been more likely to re-sign, but not by that much - money talks in UFA. Bad performances last year from all the D and losing Merrill haven't helped that trade in hindsight, though, I agree.