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Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Trading for Taylor Hall

It is only a matter of when, not if, the New Jersey Devils will trade Taylor Hall. Since being traded to New Jersey Hall is tied for 18th in points-per-game among NHL forwards at 0.99 points/game. His closest teammates are Kyle Palmieri at 0.67 PPG and Nico Hischier at 0.65 PPG.

There are six sets of teammates in the top-18: Connor McDavid (1.38) and Leon Draisaitl (1.11), Nikita Kucherov (1.32) and Steven Stamkos (1.13), Brad Marchand (1.23) and David Pastrnak (1.09), Evgeni Malkin (1.18) and Sidney Crosby (1.17), Alex Barkov (1.04) and Jonathan Huberdeau (0.99) and Mark Schiefele (1.01) and Blake Wheeler (1.00).

The others include Patrick Kane (1.13), Nathan MacKinnon (1.10), Jack Eichel and Artemi Panarin (1.03) and Alex Ovechkin and Johnny Gaudreau (1.01). Kane’s closest teammate is Jonathon Toews at (0.80), MacKinnon has Mikko Rantanen (0.94), Eichel’s is Ryan O’Reilly/Jeff Skinner (0.75), Panarin had Cam Atkinson (0.75), Ovechkin has Nicklas Backstrom at 0.94 and Gaudreau had Sean Monahan at 0.86.

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Most of the top scorers play with other good-to-elite players either at 5×5 or on the powerplay. Hall is a dominant player, and he won the Hart trophy in 2018. If anyone suggests he wouldn’t make a team better, I assume they are basing that on a personal disdain for the person, rather than a fair evaluation of the on-ice product. Hall moves the needle. As for the suggestion he is injury prone, he has had one major injury in the past five seasons and two in the past eight. That isn’t a big deal for me.

Let’s look at what it will take to acquire Hall, and what it could mean for the team who lands him.

COST TO ACQUIRE…

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If I’m a GM looking to add him at the deadline, I’m doing it with the mindset I will re-sign him in the summer, similar to what the Sharks did with Evander Kane and Las Vegas with Mark Stone. The one difference is, I could see Hall signing a four-year deal, instead of a seven or eight-year pact. He spoke openly about John Tavares going against the norm for an elite player, and testing free agency, and when you consider Hall is a fan of the NBA, I think a shorter term isn’t out of the question. How many elite players have their careers ended due to injuries? Almost none, so the fear of a career-ending injury should be extremely low. Plus many players have insurance for “future earnings.”

At the 2018 trade deadline, the San Jose Sharks acquired Kane from the Buffalo Sabres, for Danny O’Regan (he’d played 22 NHL games) and a second and fourth round pick. The second became a first rounder in 2019 when the Sharks signed Kane to a seven-year, $7million AAV in May. O’Regan has played three NHL games for the Sabres, and he has produced 30-46-76 in 110 AHL games.

The Sabres traded the 2019 first round pick, and Brendan Guhle, to Anaheim for Brandon Montour and they selected defenceman Aaron Huglen with the fourth round pick. Montour is a solid NHL D-man.

At the 2019 trade deadline, the Vegas Golden Knights acquired Mark Stone from the Ottawa Senators for Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg and the rights to Dallas’ second round pick in 2020. This was essentially a sign and trade as Stone signed an eight-year extension with a $9.5 AAV with the Golden Knights.

Brannstrom is currently the #6 Dman in Ottawa playing 13:38/game. He is only 20 years young and they still believe he will be a very good player. But at 5’9″, there will be challenges, not to mention he won’t get a lot of PP time in Ottawa in the future playing behind Thomas Chabot. It is very difficult to project how good he will be. There are many highly touted prospects who never become dominant NHL players. If he becomes a #4 D-man they’d be thrilled and that would be a great return for Stone.

The reality is Devils GM, Ray Shero, is not dealing from a position of strength. If he doesn’t trade Hall he will lose him for nothing in the summer. Every opposing GM knows this, so the best strategy Shero can do is talk to Hall’s agent, Darren Ferris, and find out which three teams Hall would most likely sign an extension with. Then Shero can negotiate with them, because if Hall re-signs with a team that return will be a bit more.

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I don’t see Shero taking on a player with a big salary cap, unless it is an expiring one to give the acquiring team room to fit Hall into their cap for this season. In Edmonton a contract like Brandon Manning for instance, or a Mark Barberio in Colorado. Just an added piece to make the $ work for this season.

Most likely teams will look at a deal somewhere in between Kane and Stone. Hall is a better player than Kane, while Stone was essentially a sign and trade. I think Shero would rather have a good prospect who could play next season than take a first round pick in the #20-31 range that won’t help the Devils for most likely, at least, two seasons. Shero might not be around in two years if the Devils don’t show some on-ice improvements.

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TEAMS THAT MAKE SENSE…

Taylor Hall

Colorado Avalanche:

Hall to Colorado would be an ideal match for both sides. The Avs big contracts include Mikko Rantanen at $9.25m, Nathan MacKinnon at $6.3 million, Eric Johnson at $6 million and Gabriel Landeskog at $5.5m. Rantanen is in the first year of his six-year deal, MacKinnon and Johnson’s deals don’t expire until the end of the 2022/2023 season, while Landeskog has one more year. They could acquire Hall at the deadline and have four playoff runs before MacKinnon’s extension would kick in.

They have young D-men in Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, Connor Timmins and Bowen Byram. Nikita Zadorov is only 24 years of age. They Avs are built to win this year and for the next few seasons. I don’t see a team with a better combination of cap space and young talent as the Avs. They could run Landeskog-MacKinnon-Burakovsky and Hall-Kadri-Rantanen as their top two lines.

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Would the Devils take Timmins and a second round pick? Or would they want TJ Compher and Timmins? Maybe the Devils would want Compher/Timmins and Alex Hewhook? Either way, I’d make that deal if I’m Avalanche GM Joe Sakic. The Avs have a good prospect pool and the space to re-sign Hall.

Dallas Stars:

The Stars don’t have many offensive forwards on the depth chart. Ty Dellandrea might be their best bet. They are in win now mode with Tyler Seguin (soon-to-be 28), Jamie Benn (30), Alex Radulov (33) and Joe Pavelski (35). Jim Nill might be willing to go after Hall, even if he might not be able to re-sign him. The Stars blueline is exceptional, and will only get better as the slick Miro Heiskanen continues to improve. Heiskanen along with John Klingberg and Esa Lindell give the Stars a great top three. Heiskanen has this year and next year before he needs an extension, and I wonder if Nill makes a big push at the deadline.

New York Islanders:

They have to extend Matt Barzal, Ryan Pulock and Devin Toews in the off-season, but Lou Lamiorello isn’t afraid to take a stand on young players. Barzal will get paid, but after scoring 85 points as a rookie he had 62 points in 82 games last season and has 23 in 25 games this year. He is still their leading scorer, but he might not break the bank like some expect.

The Islanders have a lot of cap space, despite burying over $5.8 million in the minors with Andrew Ladd and Thomas Hickey. Hickey has two more years, after this season, remaining on his deal, while Ladd has three. The Islanders could use another top-end scorer. Hall and Barzal would be quite the duo. Barry Trotz has them winning with sound defence, but having another game breaker in the playoffs would huge for the Islanders. I’m not sure Shero would trade within his division, but the Islanders are a candidate.

Montreal Canadiens:

Hall has stated he’d welcome playing in a hockey market again. He loves playing where hockey is front and centre. The issue is the Habs don’t look like a competitive team right now, or next season. Would he sign an extension with them? They would love to have him, and he’d love the insatiable appetite of their fans, but he wants to be on a team he feels will be a playoff contender for the next four or five seasons. I’m not sure the Habs fit that bill.

Carolina Hurricanes:

Many, including myself, wondered if Tom Dundon was serious about the NHL when he first purchased the Hurricanes. He has made a believer out of me. He’s marketed that team very well and they are competitive. He’s proven he isn’t afraid to spend money and they have the cap space to pay Hall. Sebastien Aho is their only player with an AAV above $6 million, and Dougie Hamilton ($5.75m) is their only top player who needs an extension in the near future (after next season). Carolina isn’t your usual hockey market, but under Dundon’s watch they have become much more relevant in their community and he isn’t afraid to make a big splash.

Edmonton Oilers:

The Oilers have interest in Hall and he would return here. But that doesn’t mean it will happen. The challenge for GM Ken Holland is he has already dealt his 2020 third rounder, unless James Neal falters and Milan Lucic suddenly scores a few goals. The Oilers forward depth isn’t very deep after Kailer Yamamoto and Tyler Benson. Ryan McLeod could be a solid third liner in a few seasons, while Kirill Maksimov is intriguing. Raphael Lavoie is having a great season in Halifax, but odds are he is a few years away. The Oilers are just coming out of a decade of losing, and while their depth on the blueline is quite good, I don’t see Holland eager to trade away a first round pick at the deadline.

If he could sign Hall to an extension, similar to Stone, then that changes things a bit, but if he signs Hall he needs to clear out some salary this summer, and every opposing GM would be low-balling him on deals for guys with a contract like Kris Russell and Adam Larsson.

Without question Hall would help the Oilers. He is a driver, and has been for years. You could keep Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl together and Hall would be the engine on your second line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, or if they move Draisaitl to centre Hall could easily play with him or McDavid and be dangerous.

But the issue is cap space. Darnell Nurse, Zack Kassian and Ethan Bear need new contracts. Nurse will be getting a fairly large raise. Bear will, at minimum, triple his salary up to $2.1 million/year, while Kassian will get some sort of raise, but probably not as much people have suggested.

Both sides have interest, but in order to sign Hall, the Oilers would need to move out some money this summer. A deal can be made, and it would help the Oilers, but other teams could make the move with more cap flexibility.

Hall’s main focus is being on a competitive team. There are no guarantees a team can win a Cup, but he’d like to be on a team that will be a regular at the table in April.

MONTH OF GIVING…

Thanks to Jason for his awesome bid on the Glendale Associate Membership package yesterday. A great way to start off Month of Giving. Today we have two packages.

Day 2: The Ultimate Made to Measure experience.

  • $1500 dollars towards two outfits hand-picked by Sterling Derk to fit your style. Options of blazers, shoes, jeans, etc.
  • Additional $500 in GCs towards shirt, ties or accessories at Mr Derk. Pick whatever you want.
  • All tailoring of clothes is included.
  • In store consultation with Sterling Derk to ensure you fill out your wardrobe properly.

You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Package #2:

  • Four Loge Ledge seats for the Oilers/Leafs game on December 14th courtesy of Trilogy Rentals.
  • A $500 tab to use at your loge for food and beverages.

You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.

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