Taylor Hall is coming back to the Pacific Division, but instead of wearing orange and blue, he’ll be wearing the brick red. After weeks of speculation, the Arizona Coyotes acquired the former Oiler and former Hart Trophy winner today in a deal with the New Jersey Devils.
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) December 16, 2019
It ends the talk of a potential return to Edmonton that has had the fan base incredibly divided. A lot of fans wanted nothing to do with Hall, citing the rumours that the 2010 first overall pick wasn’t universally liked by all of his teammates in Edmonton. There were plenty of other fans who looked at the Oiler’s clear need for an impact forward who can drive offence and viewed a reunion with Hall as a perfect marriage.
The Oilers were interested. Our very own Jason Gregor reported that Ken Holland had conversations with Devils General Manager Ray Shero on multiple occasions but clearly, there wasn’t a fit.
My take on it was that while I agreed that Taylor Hall would be a good fit in the Oilers lineup, I didn’t want them to spend an asset like Evan Bouchard or Philip Broberg to acquire him and based on last seasons Mark Stone trade, I thought that’s what it would take. I was wrong.
In the end, it cost the Coyotes a pair of draft picks, a 2020 first-rounder that is top-three protected and a 2021 third-round pick will become a second-rounder if the Coyotes win a Stanley Cup OR Hall resigns in Arizona and a first-round pick if both of those events happen, and three prospects (Nick Merkley, Kevin Bahl and Nate Schnarr) to acquire both Taylor Hall and Blake Speers. It’s worth noting that the Devils retained 50% of Hall’s $6 million cap hit as well.
Now that we know what the eventual return was, we can ask the question: should Ken Holland have paid the price to acquire Taylor Hall?
We heard all along that Ken Holland was not willing to give up a first-round pick to acquire Hall so there’s a chance that this was a non-starter for the Oilers GM but for the sake of this exercise, let’s say that he was comfortable with giving up the teams first-round pick in this June’s draft. Which prospects in the Oilers system are equivalent to what the Coyotes gave up?
I’m far from a prospects expert, but Simon Boisvert certainly is and I would trust his take on things. Here’s what he had to say on the deal (also, you should follow Simon ASAP. He’s great):
The only prospects with true potential is Merkley. Even then, his development was unfortunately hampered by injuries. https://t.co/LLwy63k6Uu
— Simon Boisvert (@simonsnake70) December 16, 2019
Merkley is 22-years-old and was taken 30th overall back in 2015. He has appeared in 109 AHL games and produced 89 points. Bahl is a 6’6 defenseman who is currently with Team Canada at World Junior Camp. He’s hardly known as an offensive producer but scouting reports say that he’s very strong in his own end. Schnarr was a third-round pick in 2017 who has 9 points in his first 22 career AHL games.
What would the Oilers equivalent be to this Coyotes offer? It’s tough to find a perfect comparable, but I think this would be close:
- A first-round pick in 2020 (top 3 protected)
- A third-round pick in 2021 (with the same conditions)
- Either Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi
- Dmitri Samorukov
- Raphael Lavoie (on pace for similar PPG to Schnarr in final junior season) or Kirill Maksimov (lesser prospect)
It’s not a perfect comparison, and maybe adding Lavoie in there is too much but even if it was Maksimov in that deal, would you have given that package up for 50 games of Taylor Hall? Do you think that this one move could have turned the Oilers into legitimate Stanley Cup contenders? I think it would help, but I’m not 100% it would turn the Oilers into Cup contenders. I still wouldn’t trust their bottom six or their goaltending to get them through a long playoff run.
I don’t have those same concerns when it comes to the Coyotes. They have a solid group of defensemen, a very deep forward group, and two goaltenders that are capable of being starters in the NHL. They are now Stanley Cup contenders and that’s why John Chayka pulled the trigger on this deal.
It really sucks to watch Ken Holland miss or pass up on an opportunity to bring in a game-changing winger and it’s an extra hard pill to swallow because he’s now with a division rival but I don’t blame him for not meeting the price that the Arizona Coyotes paid, especially in his first year with the organization. I don’t think this trade would have made them Stanley Cup Contenders.
The conversation is over. Taylor Hall will not come back to Edmonton this season but now there’s a new question to chew on: would you sign him on July 1st for 7 years/$70 million?