Taylor Hall was kept out of the New Jersey Devils’ lineup tonight in their game against the Colorado Avalanche. As speculation has run rampant lately regarding the forward’s inevitable and pending trade, this led many to believe that tonight was surely the night. As of the time of this writing, no announcement has yet been made.
But I have been scratching my head for days over the idea of why any team would be keen to trade for Hall. It’s not that he’s not worth paying a decent price to have on one’s team, but the price (if you believe all the speculation of how much the Devils may want for Hall) might be a bit too high to get a fair deal done.
On one hand, Hall has a recent Hart Trophy to his name as league MVP. On the other, it’s no great secret that Hall wishes to test his value on the open market this off season. As an unrestricted free agent come July 1st, 2020, that is, of course, his right.
So, why should any team give up more than a pittance for a guy that is likely to turn out to only be a rental? Many in hockey are reporting/speculating that the Devils are looking to get multiple assets in return for Hall, including a league ready defenceman, a high end prospect, and a relatively high draft pick (or two). If this is truly what Ray Shero is looking for, nobody in their right mind is likely to work with them on a trade. (Note here that I said nobody in their right mind.)
Although I sit in serious anticipation of a trade happening for Hall at any moment tonight, I can hardly believe that any team would be foolish enough to give up so much for him. In my view, a guy who may or may not pay off as a temporary asset to help one of only a handful of already strong clubs to make a deep playoff run is simply not worth all that much.
Much of the speculation surrounding a trade partner for New Jersey has revolved around their opponent from tonight—the Colorado Avalanche. If the Avs do in fact make an offer on Hall, I for one am concerned that his presence on the team could upset the amazing chemistry that the club has had thus far this season.
Even with a plethora of injuries to top stars like Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Erik Johnson, Nazem Kadri, Cale Makar, and others so far this season, Colorado ends the night in first place in the Central Division with 45 points in just 32 games. Only 2 teams in the entire NHL have more points than Colorado this season, so it’s questionable whether they even need a Taylor Hall on their roster.
However, one thing they certainly don’t need is another Matt Duchene on their hands—a player that carried a black cloud over his head for the better part of two seasons and brought the entire team down around him. The minute that Duchene finally left, Colorado became a contender—and Nathan MacKinnon went from star to superstar over night.
In my honest opinion, Hall has a bit of the dark cloud upon him as well (admittedly this is based largely on intuition—I have no specific evidence with which to back it up), so there’s no telling what his acquisition might do to Colorado’s team chemistry (or any other team’s, for that matter).
All the more reason why his value may be less than many are suggesting it is. Lead among this crew, it would seem, is New Jersey GM Ray Shero, who seems to want to bring in a bounty of assets for a player they’re sure to lose anyway.
Bottom line—if Colorado (or anyone else) can land Hall’s temporary services at a rock bottom price, it might be worth taking he risk. But for anything more than a thrift store bargain, it might be best to maintain the status quo and leave Hall where he is. Undoubtedly this disparity in Hall’s perceived value is what’s held Shero up from making a deal already.