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.
If and when he's dealt, I would expect the deal to have a conditional nature to it so that if he re-signs with his new club there will be additional asset(s)... Either way, this isn't necessarily a deal _ if it happens _ that must wait until the Feb. 24 deadline....— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) November 30, 2019
It's important to note Hall is not asking for a move:
Taylor Hall has not asked the Devils for a trade. He wanted to make that clear.— Abbey Mastracco (@AbbeyMastracco) November 30, 2019
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).
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.
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.
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.
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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