The New York Islanders are in a battle for the top spot in the East Division and look poised for another deep playoff run. However, with Anders Lee out for the season, there’s no doubt the team is in need of scoring at the top of their lineup. Heading towards the trade deadline, we know general manager Lou Lamoriello will be active in the trade market and with the next few articles, I'll look at who the Islanders could target ahead of the deadline.
As of now, Taylor Hall is maybe the only true top-line forward available (that we know of). Despite his lack of production this year, with only two goals and 17 points in 33 games, Hall has consistently been a top winger throughout his career and would provide a major boost to the Islanders’ forward group. With Hall in the middle of the worst season of his career, it's important to remember he's just three years removed from being the league's MVP.
It’s also important to factor in his value, which is likely at an all-time low right now. Given his decline in production, his contract and the state of the market right now, I’d bet he doesn’t get the return many may be expecting. There’s no way Buffalo will be able to recoup the assets that New Jersey did by dealing Hall at last season’s deadline, though according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Sabres are asking for a first-round pick as part of the deal. Considering how expensive his contract is, however, many teams would likely struggle to make a deal work, even with retained salary. With Lee on long term injured reserve though, the Islanders will have some cap flexibility.
That said, the Islanders do need to make sure they aren’t overpaying here. Hall would likely be a rental and given his down year, if the price is too steep, perhaps the team looks elsewhere. Kyle Palmieri has been rumoured as an option and while he likely wouldn’t provide the same impact, he would almost surely cost less.
If the Islanders could get Hall at a reasonable price, I think they should be willing to pull the trigger on a deal. While he doesn’t play the same style of game that Lee does, we can expect Hall's production to bounce back with a change of scenery and he’d make the most impact of any forward available.
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Should the Islanders look to trade for Taylor Hall?