Taylor Hall

Why Bruins shouldn't pursue trade for Devils star Taylor Hall

Why Bruins shouldn't pursue trade for Devils star Taylor Hall

The Bruins have not consistently been massive players at the NHL trade deadline over their recent history, but they haven’t exactly been gun-shy either under general manager Don Sweeney. 

A couple of years ago, the Bruins tracked down one of the biggest deadline targets when they used a first-round pick and prospects to land Rick Nash in a move that ultimately didn’t work out. Last season, they bagged Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson in a pair of moves that helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final, and led to them signing Coyle to a six-year extension just a couple of weeks ago. 

Clearly Sweeney isn’t shy when his team has needs, even if he is absolutely reticent to trade first-round picks or top prospects unless it’s the kind of asset that fits into Boston’s long-term planning. 

So how does that play into this season’s top trade deadline target in New Jersey Devils winger and former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall? 

Undoubtedly the Bruins could use a player of Hall’s caliber as the big, skilled winger that David Krejci has been looking for on his line for the last couple of seasons. It would force the Bruins to rearrange things a little bit, of course, whether it's shifting Jake DeBrusk down to the third line, or requiring one of Anders Bjork, Danton Heinen or DeBrusk to play on the right side rather than the left. 

But those are minor adjustments when it comes to a 28-year-old who's just a couple of years removed from 39 goals and 93 points on his way to the NHL’s MVP Award, and a player who could immediately give the Bruins two extremely dangerous offensive lines while handing Krejci the kind of experienced top goal-scorer he has been without since the days of Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Jarome Iginla, and even Loui Eriksson. 

The issues are two-fold with Hall, as they are with any number of big ticket items available at the deadline. The first issue would be the prohibitive cost for a player who's a former No. 1 overall pick and a Hart Trophy winner as well. The Devils would be seeking something along the lines of the Ottawa haul for Mark Stone (forward and D-man prospects along with a high draft pick).  

New Jersey is looking for first-round picks and top prospects with an eye toward defensemen after drafting Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier with high first-round picks in the last couple of years. The cost for the Bruins would be interesting given their organizational assets, and one has to wonder if young NHL roster players like Brandon Carlo, Bjork or DeBrusk would be in the crosshairs for the Devils organization. 

Would the Bruins be willing to give up a first-round pick, 2017 first-round pick Urho Vaakanainen and Anders Bjork in exchange for Hall? How about if it was Carlo and a second-round pick along with Jack Studnicka for a player in Hall who isn’t guaranteed to be sticking around in Boston after this season? Or DeBrusk, Vaakanainen and a second-round pick with it conditionally turning into a first-rounder if the Bruins can re-sign Hall following the conclusion of this current season? 

If the Bruins weren’t given assurances that Hall was willing to stay with Boston ahead of acquiring him, it would be a steep price to pay for a player who would be tasting unrestricted free agency for the first time in his NHL career while still in his prime. 

That brings up one of the other issues: the cost in salary cap damage. 

Hall is in the last year of a contract that pays him $6 million per season, but is due for a substantial raise based on his Hart Trophy season. How much of a raise will depend on how the rest of the current season goes for a player who has four goals and 22 points in 27 games thus far. Hall is on pace for just 12 goals and 67 points, and numbers like those coming off 11 goals and 37 points last season aren’t screaming out max contract to many NHL teams. 

Still, they would likely have to pay him at least as much as their highest paid player (David Krejci at $7.25 million if not more) given his body of work, his age and the amount of demand there will be for him around the NHL if he hits free agency. Given that the Bruins have Torey Krug, DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, Zdeno Chara and Jaroslav Halak among others up for contracts following this season, it sure doesn’t feel like the right time for the Bruins to add another massive piece to their group, despite the desperate need for a top-6 sniper. 

These past two seasons should also be a warning sign to potentially interested teams like the Bruins that Hall is on the downslide of his career as he approaches 30 years old, and that his 2017-18 Hart Trophy season might be as good as it gets for a player who never consistently lived up to the hype. 

For all those reasons, it’s the right call for the Bruins to take a pass on Hall with teams like the Canadiens, Canucks, Avalanche and others in even better position to surrender the moon in order to bring on New Jersey’s slumping star.

Sometimes it’s about being the right fit, at the right time for the right price for an NHL team in big-time trades — and none of those things seem to be aligned for the Bruins and Hall. 

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NHL rumors: Here is Devils' asking price for a Taylor Hall trade before deadline

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL rumors: Here is Devils' asking price for a Taylor Hall trade before deadline

The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 24, and the superstar dominating the rumor mill is New Jersey Devils left winger Taylor Hall.

Reports last week indicated the Devils were listening to teams interested in making a deal for the 2017-18 Hart Trophy winner. Hall is in the final year of his contract and eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. The Devils are going nowhere this season, and sit in last place in the Metropolitan Division entering Thursday's games.

So, which teams are interested in making a deal for Hall?

The Boston Bruins have not come up in any recent rumors involving Hall, and that makes sense. The salary cap part of a Hall trade wouldn't be easy to work, and the Bruins also need cap space to re-sign defenseman Torey Krug when he's a free agent in July or find a suitable replacement if he leaves.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, in his recent 31 Thoughts column, mentioned several teams in the mix. But perhaps more interesting, he noted what the Devils are seeking in return for Hall.

The Taylor Hall trade talks have intensified, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen at this time.

“He’s trying,” another GM said of Shero.

The Devils have made it clear they want first-rounders (although they are willing to discuss conditional situations, depending on the acquiring team’s ability to re-sign Hall or playoff results) and/or high-level prospects who are ready to play. They badly need defence, which is why there’s a lot of focus on Colorado as the perfect trade partner. The Avalanche have plenty of defensive prospects and think they can win. Several teams believe Arizona is making a serious effort. Hall is what they need, too. It’s believed Dallas and St. Louis are among other pursuers.

Hall missed most of last season with an injury, but he's been healthy in 2019-20. He's tallied 22 points (four goals, 18 assists) in 27 games and would make a strong impact for any contending team's top-six forward group.

The asking price, as it should be, is substantial, but it would be worth it for teams that strongly believe they can re-sign him after the season.

Click for five potential trade destinations for Taylor Hall>>>

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NHL trade rumors: Five destinations for Taylor Hall that make sense

NHL trade rumors: Five destinations for Taylor Hall that make sense

Taylor Hall is one of the most talented forwards in the NHL, but the New Jersey Devils star could find himself on his third team before the 2019-20 season concludes.

The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported Saturday the Devils are listening to teams interested in making a trade for Hall.

It's important to note Hall is not asking for a move:

This season has been a major disappointment for the Devils. They enter Tuesday's games with the second-worst record and second-worst goal differential in the league. Trading Hall, who won the Hart Trophy in 2017-18 but missed more than half of last season due to injuries, is an opportunity for the franchise to stockpile prospects and/or draft picks to accelerate its retool/rebuild.

Hall is 28 years and has a $6 million salary cap hit in a contract that expires after this season, so he'd be a rental for many teams. He's tallied 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) in 26 games for the Devils as of Tuesday.

Which teams should pursue Hal ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline? Here are five potential destinations based on fit and/or need (all salary information via Cap Friendly).

Colorado Avalanche
The Avs have $8,027,294 in salary cap space as of Tuesday, which is the third-highest in the league and enough to fit in Hall's $6 million cap hit. Hall would add another top-tier goal scorer to an already loaded Avalanche forward group. Could you imagine Hall playing left wing alongside center Nathan MacKinnon and right winger Mikko Rantanen? This would be one of the most feared lines in the league from an offensive skill perspective. Even Hall playing alongside Nazem Kadri on Colorado's second line would be a tremendous fit. The Avalanche already rank No. 1 in goals scored per game, so Hall isn't a need, but making this move would give Colorado tremendous depth ahead of what should be a very, very tough Western Conference playoffs. The Avs are in second place in the Central Division and have a very real shot at winning the Stanley Cup, so adding Hall -- even as a rental -- is a risk worth taking.

Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes are in a tough fight in the Metropolitan division, where just six points separate second place and fifth place. Carolina ranks 10th in the league in goals scored per game, but a lot of its offense is generated from the blue line. Dougie Hamilton leads all defensemen with 10 goals and ranks second in scoring with 28 points. Acquiring Hall would provide the Hurricanes with a proven goal scorer to upgrade their top-six ahead of a fierce playoff race.

Montreal Canadiens
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin typically waits until the offseason to make major moves, but without a significant addition in the near term, Montreal's season (and Bergevin's job) could end soon. The Canadiens have lost eight consecutive games, with the most recent defeat coming to the rival Boston Bruins at TD Garden after a horrendous third period performance. The Canadiens sit in fifth place in the Atlantic Division, and it could be sixth place very soon when the Tampa Bay Lightning (one point behind Montreal) finally get their act together. Montreal also has the cap space, around $7 million, and upper echelon prospects to make a deal for Hall work. Bergevin swung and missed on Sebastian Aho over the offseason when the Hurricanes matched an offer sheet. It's time for the Canadiens GM to make another bold move for a goal-scoring forward.

Edmonton Oilers
You knew the Oilers were going to be listed.

The Oilers drafted Hall with the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, but they never made the playoffs with him because management made so many awful roster moves. He was traded to the Devils in 2016 in exchange for defenseman Adam Larsson, which was a laughable move from Edmonton's perspective given Hall's elite talent. Fast forward three years and the Oilers are finally good, and the thought of Hall playing alongside Oilers star center Leon Draisaitl is pretty exciting for Edmonton fans. Hall knows Edmonton, knows many of the players there, and would be playing for a top Western Conference contender if dealt to the Oilers. 

St. Louis Blues
The Blues' run to a Stanley Cup championship in 2019 was not an aberration. The defending champs lead the Central Division with 42 points and have won four games in a row. St. Louis' best goal scorer, right winger Vladimir Tarasenko, dislocated his shoulder in October and might not return before the postseason. Hall would be an ideal replacement for Tarasenko, and if the latter does return this season, the two of them would give St. Louis excellent scoring depth in the playoffs. If Tarasenko doesn't return or isn't 100 percent when he does, Hall's presence would be even more valuable.

Keeping Hall beyond 2019-20 could be difficult for St. Louis given its lack of cap space and need to re-sign captain and No. 1 defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who's an unrestricted free agent after this season. However, the Blues went more than five decades without winning a Stanley Cup, and their core remains championship caliber. Why not acquire Hall and try to win back-to-back titles before the team's veterans move past their prime?

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