If 2019 was the year of John Tavares and 2018 was the year of Artemi Panarin… well gear up for 2020, the year of Taylor Hall.
The New Jersey Devils’ superstar is a pending free agent and has made it clear to Devils management that he’s interested in at least testing the open market. And, at this point of his career, can you really blame him? Hall has seen the Stanley Cup Playoffs just once in his NHL career, despite putting up some MVP calibre play. In fact, Hall has named league MVP back in 2018 when he personally willed the Devils into the post-season.
But with free agency looming and with the Devils mired in one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, you can’t blame Hall for looking at other options.
So… where might the former 1st overall pick end up?
NHL insider Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic reports that several teams seem to be in the mix for Hall including the Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames.
“As I reported Sunday morning, according to sources around the league, the Devils have begun to listen to trade offers for Hall, which they must do regardless of how it all ends up,” reports LeBrun.
Read below for LeBrun’s personal take on each potential destination:
The Avs make all kinds of sense. They’ve got ample cap room, and they could make a serious run at the Stanley Cup. And adding one more offensive weapon would end any talk they’re a one-line team entering the playoffs, although the acquisition of Nazem Kadri during the summer already has helped end that talk. Still, Hall on a line with Nathan MacKinnon, with the possibility of Kadri and Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog filling out the top six in one way or another — giddy-up, I’d say. The Avs have their first-round pick this year and next, so the pieces are there.
Is there hometown allure for Hall? The Flames have been inconsistent all season. They sit on the playoff bubble. How much are they willing to pay for a player they might lose July 1? Or does GM Brad Treliving only make that trade if, like Stone in Vegas, he can be assured he can sign Hall long-term? The Flames have all of their top picks for the next few years.
The Canadiens have lots of cap room and can especially leverage the field of bidders on Hall if they strike sooner rather than later, when the cap hit is less of factor. I’ve heard no concrete evidence they’re actually interested, by the way, but the combination of their cap room with the idea Hall might love to return to a passionate Canadian market has some people wondering. But like the Flames, the Habs are a bubble team thanks to their recent slide, and I don’t know if GM Marc Bergevin can justify a large price paid if Hall walks July 1.
You’ve got to love the idea of the surprising, Pacific Division-leading Oilers bringing Hall back where his NHL career began. If I know GM Ken Holland like I think I do, I’d be shocked if he didn’t at least inquire at some point with Shero. But I also think Holland would be very much uncomfortable dealing away a first-round pick so early in his reshaping of the Oilers even though they have done what they have done so far. If there was a way to somehow satisfy the Devils’ needs otherwise, maybe Holland would bite. But a July 1 bid on him when he’s not giving up assets in return might be wiser.
GM Don Sweeney’s trade-deadline acquisitions of Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle last season were quite impactful as the Bruins reached the Cup final. They have zero cap room this season, so making any trade of significance will be much harder. But with the Devils being willing, I believe, to eat part of Hall’s salary if they do trade him, I wonder how creative Sweeney can get if it means a chance at Hall, who would be quite the second-line luxury for the powerhouse Bruins but also make them less top-line reliant.
San JoseReally, I just don’t know that the Sharks can get into it. To start, Ottawa owns their first-round pick courtesy of the Erik Karlsson trade. I don’t know if a 2021 first-round pick would cut it, and does it make any sense for San Jose to trade away another one? But I can’t help but list the Sharks even as an outlier because GM Doug Wilson loves big-game hunting.
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