Not that this is anything even close to surprising, but the Devils have two options with Taylor Hall: Get him to the negotiating table (right now) and sign him to a monster extension or trade him for a king’s ransom ahead of the 2020 NHL trade deadline. The former, while worth it, assumes that Hall is content with the Devils’ current path and wants to stay in New Jersey. Hall’s camp, for what it’s worth, has not indicated that they would like to move on, so there’s a definite chance he’d stay.
But if they opted to make a move, which would almost seem likely if the Devils fail to get on track and meet the lofty expectations they entered the year with, there’s no denying the outright haul (no pun intended, but accepted all the same) Ray Shero and Co. would get for the pending free agent.
I mean, is there a legit comparable for Hall? Senator-turned-Golden-Knight Mark Stone seems like the guy, but then you remember that Stone remained criminally underrated throughout his time in Ottawa and did not have a Hart Trophy to his name when he hit the market last year. Still, Stone was enough to net the Senators top defensive prospect Erik Brannstrom, forward Oscar Lindberg, and a second-round pick. (It’s kind of amazing that Ottawa did not get a first-round pick for Stone, who signed a mammoth extension with the Golden Knights, but hey that’s Ottawa.)
So what does Hall fetch the Devils?
Start at the top: If the Devils trade Hall and do not get a first-round pick, Shero should be fired. Just look at the players who have been moved for first-round picks over the last few years and then try to tell me there’s a workable Hall package without a first. I think you could make the case that a team should give up multiple firsts for Hall, such as a second first-round pick that’s conditional (assuming Hall re-signs with the team that trades for him or that team wins the Stanley Cup). Getting a first is key, of course, but the Devils wouldn’t be crazy if they asked for another Top-93 pick, especially if they’re unable to lock down a second first by way of a conditional draft choice.
The next thing for the Devils should be a viable NHL roster player or two, preferably one on their second contract, so they’re still young enough to build around but not destroying your cap or entering territory similar to that of Hall in 2019. Especially given the age of the Devils’ high-ceiling talents.
But perhaps most important would be the addition of another high-impact defensive prospect, as the Devils’ pipeline could use another game-changer to go behind 2018 first-round pick Ty Smith.
So, you’re essentially talking about a starting package that should include a first-round pick, a secondary pick, an NHL piece, and a top prospect. Given Hall’s skill-set, as well as the desperation of more than a few teams on this trade market looking for one last kick at the can, is more than feasible.
That’s if Hall is even traded at all, of course.
Here are some other thoughts and notes from around the NHL…
- I’m very ‘meh’ on the Bruins’ new third jerseys. They’re basically a mix of the alternate the team introduced in 2008 and last year’s Winter Classic jersey. Still think a gold alternate (not Pooh Bear) or ‘80s throwback would have been the way to go with their new sweaters. Nevertheless, they’re undefeated (a super-large two-game sample size) in the laundry, so not many will complain.
- Watching last night’s Bruins-Canadiens game, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Bruins were going to fire Claude Julien for the second time in less than three years. In the last week alone, the Bruins hammered Julien’s Habs for an 8-1 final and then snatched a victory out of Montreal’s grasp with three unanswered goals in the third period, sending the Canadiens to their eighth straight loss. Yikes.
- Did the Flames have any other choice with Bill Peters? He confirmed a racial slur (even if it was 10 years ago), and Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour confirmed that Peters did physically accost players on his team. I have no idea how you’re supposed to rebound from that in 2019. Just a total circus.
- I don’t know if Julius Honka and Jesse Puljujarvi are NHL superstars, but I know they’re good enough to be playing in the NHL this season. The fact that neither player was signed or traded before the Dec. 1 deadline, meaning they’re not eligible to play in the NHL this season, is infuriating. This is where you wonder if the NHL would benefit from the equivalent of Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 Draft.
- David Pastrnak is emerging into a downright incredible, must-watch talent.
Just look at that goal. Yowzers.
Ty Anderson is a writer, columnist, and weird personality for 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, where he covers all things Boston sports. He has been covering the National Hockey League for HockeyBuzz.com since 2010, and has also been part of the Boston Chapter of the PHWA since 2013. In addition to writing, Ty can occasionally be heard on the air at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and seen and/or heard on the NHL Network every now and then. He will not give you his email, so yell at him on Twitter (@_TyAnderson).