One of the biggest trade targets in the NHL is on the move.
The New Jersey Devils traded star left winger Taylor Hall to the Arizona Coyotes for a package that includes multiple players and draft picks.
🚨#NJDevils NEWS: Taylor Hall and Blake Speers to ARI in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, third-round selection (conditional) in 2021, D Kevin Bahl and F Nick Merkley and Nate Schnarr.https://t.co/PPZFky75oV— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) December 16, 2019
So, how does this move impact the Boston Bruins? It's actually a positive development. Here are three reasons for that.
1. Hall is out of the Eastern Conference
The Bruins own the second-best record in the league and the Eastern Conference with 48 points (21-7-6) through 34 games. There was always a chance Hall could've been dealt to an East contender, and that would've made it tougher for the B's to win the Prince of Wales Trophy in back-to-back seasons. East teams currently in a playoff spot such as the Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders all need another top-six forward with a proven goal-scoring résumé. Even a few of the top Western Conference contenders, including the Colorado Avalanche and defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues made a lot of sense as potential landing spots for Hall.
The Coyotes are having a tremendous season. They surprisingly lead the Pacific Division, and Hall fills a huge need for them. Arizona enters Monday ranked 24th in the league in goals scored per game, which is the lowest ranking of the four division leaders. The Coyotes deserve a lot of credit for their hot start, but it's still way too early to view them as a legit championship contender. This fact, combined with Hall not going to one of the Bruins' primary competitors in the East, is a positive development for Boston.
2. B's could still take advantage of Devils' situation
The Devils might not be done selling, and given their last-place standing in the Metropolitan Division, a firesale wouldn't be a bad idea. Who else could the Devils move before the trade deadline?
One name to watch is defenseman Sami Vatanen. The 28-year-old veteran is in the final year of his contract with a manageable salary cap hit of $4,875,000. Vatanen is a smooth skater with good offensive skills and the ability to log 20-plus minutes each game. He also could feature on a contender's second power play unit.
Devils right winger Kyle Palmieri also is an intriguing trade target. He is signed through the 2020-21 season with a $4.65 million cap hit. Palmieri has tallied 20 points (12 goals, eight assists) in 32 games, and it wouldn't be surprising if he came close to or hit the 30-goal mark.
Both of these players would not cost as much as Hall to acquire.
3. The Bruins were wise to hold on to their best trade assets
Finding a way to bring Hall to Boston would've been hard from cost (players/prospects and draft picks) and salary cap perspectives. He has a $6 million cap hit (although the Devils retained some salary in this trade), which isn't a small number for a Bruins team with less than $2 million in cap space, per CapFriendly.
The Bruins have some talented prospects, and given the Devils' need for young defensemen, 2017 first-round pick Urho Vaakanainen might've been a prime target for New Jersey. The B's have been pretty good at holding on to their first-round picks. They've made a first-round selection in five of the last six drafts, and the only time over that span when the Bruins traded a first-rounder for a deadline rental was in 2018 for New York Rangers forward Rick Nash. Nash wasn't able to play at a high level in the playoffs that season due to injury. Hall has his own injury history to be concerned over. He had arthroscopic knee surgery in February, which ended his 2018-19 season early. He also scored just six goals in 30 games for New Jersey this season.
Hall is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer, so giving up a package of valuable trade assets with the possibility of him leaving in July would've been quite a risk for Boston. The Bruins are better off holding on to their best trade assets for a different player.