As everyone is well aware, expectations heading into the 2019-20 season were sky-high for the New Jersey Devils. After a miserable 9-16-5 start, everyone soon realized these preseason expectations were not realistic. Now, with an interim head coach and several question marks surrounding the team, no one knows what is next. However, one item that seems to be on the docket is trading superstar Taylor Hall.
The 28-year-old left-winger leads the Devils in points (25 in 30 games) and – as everyone is aware – is set to be an unrestricted free agent after season’s end. With the notion that Hall is not willing to re-sign, and given the state of the team, it is exceedingly likely he will be moved before the NHL Trade Deadline in February. And with the rumors swirling regarding Hall, a trade seems likely to occur sooner rather than later.
Below you can find what are perceived to be the popular trade destinations for him, along with what these prospective teams have as far as assets general manager Ray Shero can pursue. Also included, are hypothetical trades the Devils may make in dealing their superstar.
As was mentioned above, trade rumors regarding Hall are alive and well. Possible trade destinations for the Devils’ top player have been made well aware to the public. Just last week on TSN’s radio show, NHL-insider Bob McKenzie explained how the Colorado Avalanche may be the best fit (see video below). However, McKenzie’s peer at TSN – Darren Dreger – said on “Insider Trading,” both the Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens will both also be front-runners in making a deal for the former Hart Trophy winner. Although the three teams mentioned above seem the most likely – with the Avalanche leading the way – several other teams have also been mentioned. The Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, and Dallas Stars have all been linked in some capacity.
However, of these teams, it will come down to who makes the best offer. It has been reported by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet that, “The Devils are encouraging teams to step forward with offers, not so much back and forth.” This type of mindset will not only lead to a prospective larger return but also help facilitate a deal sooner than later. Another interesting point made by Chris Johnston, is that it seems a trade for Taylor Hall may need to include, “as many as four pieces.” Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see which team steps up and makes Shero pull the trigger.
Now that we have a prospective list of teams who are most likely to trade for Hall, it is certainly worth examining what assets they have. Of the long list of teams, the top three seem to be the Colorado Avalanche – as confirmed by Sportsnet’s Christ Johnston – followed by the Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens. Below you can find pieces that general manager Ray Shero should pursue from these teams.
The Avalanche – led by general manager Joe Sakic – have done a tremendous job in rebuilding and have opened their window to make a serious run. Adding Taylor Hall to an already youthful and fast lineup would help tremendously in their pursuit of a Stanley Cup. And for this exact reason is why they are the favorites to land Taylor Hall.
Luckily for the Devils, the Avalanche have a loaded prospect pool, as well as draft picks to spare. An in-depth analysis for each prospect the Devils may want to pursue is below:
The 18-year-old was the fourth overall pick in last year’s NHL Entry Draft. He is a defenseman with tremendous offensive potential, as he has 117 points in 165 career WHL games with the Vancouver Giants. His best year being 2018-19, where he tallied 71 points (26G, 45A) in only 67 games.
Do not let these gaudy numbers distract you from the fact that he is also exceptionally sound in his own end. His top-notch speed, thanks to his well-above-average skating ability, coupled with what is described by many his top trait – his hockey sense – makes him solid defensively as well. Byram is rightfully regarded as one of the best defensive prospects in the league, so prying him away from Sakic may be difficult. But Shero should make it a priority to get it done.
The second-best defensive prospect in the Avalanche’s deep pool is Conor Timmins, and he would be a great consolation prize if Shero is unable to snag Byram. The 21-year-old was the 32nd overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and is currently playing for the Colorado Eagles (AHL). Timmins is described as a “puck-moving” defenseman who has tremendous vision. And this is confirmed by his gaudy assist totals in the OHL and the fact he’s compiled 10 assists in only 20 games played this season in the AHL.
Like Byram, scouts boast about his hockey sense. And thanks to this hockey sense, he is more than competent in his own end. Another part of Timmins’ game is his physicality, as he reportedly loves to throw his body around and plays with a described “edge.” Timmins is more likely to be in a trade, as Byram is rightfully valued higher by the Avalanche. However, make no mistake about it, Timmins is a wonderful prospect in his own right.
The former Nashville Predator is in his third NHL season, which is impressive given he is only 21 years old. Through 185 NHL games, he has tallied 60 points. As for his underlying statistics, he owns a career Corsi for percentage (CF%) of 48.6 which is slightly below average. Per the chart below, he is also below average in a few important statistical categories – but nothing frighteningly terrible. These struggles are most likely due to his young age, as it takes defensemen a few years to get acclimated to the NHL style and speed.
Girard is certainly a solid young player and is locked up through 2026-27 on a relatively friendly cap hit of $5,000,000. And compared to the other defensive prospects in the Avalanche organization, he is the most mature. Shero would benefit in soughing a package built around Girard.
Possible Trade: Avalanche Receive: Taylor Hall, 2021 Fifth Round Pick / Devils Receive: Conor Timmins, 2020 First Round Pick, Sampo Ranta, and a Conditional 2021 Draft Pick (If Taylor Hall re-signs)
As a team, the Arizona Coyotes are in an odd spot. Many believe they aren’t finished with their rebuild, however, they are currently second in an ultra-competitive Pacific division. The Coyotes are a team led by their defense as is evident by – according to dailyfaceoff.com – their 30th and 28th ranked first and second lines. Acquiring Taylor Hall would instantly upgrade an offense that has been quite underwhelming and help the Coyotes get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
The 21-year-old defenseman is the most mature player in this article as is evident by his 204 NHL games played. He owns a career 47.9 CF% and a relative CF% (CF% rel) of 0.8, which shows the Coyotes are a better team with him on the ice. The chart below shows Chychrun is slightly above league average in several important performance indicators.
Given he is a top-four defenseman that is locked down until 2025-26 for a team-friendly $4,600,000 cap hit, Shero should make it a point to include him in any trade between the Devils and Coyotes.
The best defense prospect the Coyotes own is last year’s 11th overall draft pick, Victor Soderstrom. The 18-year-old Swede is currently playing overseas in the SHL. He is praised for his ability to exit the zone with his excellent passing, as well as having a complete two-way game. Of the players listed in this article, he’d be the second-highest ranked defensive prospect behind Byram. The inclusion of Soderstrom may be tough – especially given Hall will be most likely viewed as a rental by Arizona. However, this does not mean Shero shouldn’t try.
Jan Jenik is one of the more compelling prospects in the NHL. The Czech Republic native has taken the OHL by storm, as he has 56 points in only 27 games played this season. He has shattered expectations from when the Coyotes took him in the third round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
All eyes will be on Jenik, as he is slated to represent his home country in the upcoming World Junior Championships. If the Devils do choose the Coyotes as a team to make a deal with regarding Hall, there is a possibility Jenik may represent the Devils at that tournament.
Possible Trade: Coyotes Receive Taylor Hall and Miles Wood / Devils Receive Jakob Chychrun, Jan Jenik, 2020 First Round Pick, and a Conditional 2021 Draft Pick.
The Canadiens started the season hot but have since cooled off. One of the possible remedies to make sure the team gets back to its winning ways is to acquire an ex-Hart Trophy winner. Hall would instantly improve the top-six of a Canadiens’ forward group that desperately needs more depth. Like the Avalanche, the Canadiens have several intriguing assets.
The University of Wisconsin standout has been electrifying the NCAA this season, as he has 20 points in 18 games. His scoring prowess comes to the surprise of no one, as the former teammate of Jack Hughes set all kinds of records in the USDP (126 goals in 123 games played), as well as a goal record in the 2018 World Junior Championships. This was just one of the many reasons why the Canadiens took him 15th overall in last year’s NHL Entry Draft.
Caufield is regarded as the top goal-scoring prospects of the 2019 draft class, so prying him away from Canadiens’ general manager Marc Bergevin may be tough. However, I wouldn’t put anything past Shero.
The 20-year-old centerman has gotten off to a tough start in the AHL this season, as he only has 12 points in 26 games. However, the former late first-round draft pick is loaded with potential as is confirmed by his wonderful NCAA career where he tallied 75 points in 107 games. Poehling is regarded for his hockey sense and work ethic, which makes up for the other parts of his game that need work.
Given that Poehling struggled immensely in his four NHL games this season and has fallen below expectations this season in Laval (AHL), his price may be as cheap as it will ever get. It is a real possibility Poehlig could be involved if the Canadiens and Devils work something out.
Cayden Primeau made his NHL debut on Dec. 5, as he made 32 saves on 35 Avalanche shots. The Voorhees, NJ native is regarded as one of the top goaltending prospects in the league. And this is rightfully true, as he dominated at Northeastern University, with a career .932 save percentage and followed it up with posting a promising .910 save percentage in the AHL for Laval this season.
The Devils have had goaltending issues ever since Cory Schneider fell off in 2016-17. And Primeau, who is close to being NHL ready at age 20, would make a nice duo with Mackenzie Blackwood for the future. Primeau should be sought after in any trade involving the Devils and Canadiens. And given that 32-year-old Carey Price is locked down until 2025-26, it may just make trading the young netminder a bit easier.
Possible Trade: Canadiens Receive: Taylor Hall, Miles Wood, and a 2020 Fourth Round Pick (BOS) / Devils Receive: Cayden Primeau, Ryan Poehling, 2021 First Round Pick, and a 2020 Second Round Pick
As usual, Shero is being extremely smart about trade negotiations with Taylor Hall. As mentioned above, he is letting the teams come to him rather than going to them. Of these teams, we have confirmation that the Avalanche and Coyotes have been in contact while several others — including the Canadiens — are rumored to be doing their due diligence. Each of these teams have several compelling assets. ranging from prospects — such as Conor Timmons and Cayden Primeau. Or NHL players such as Jakub Chychrun and Samuel Girard at their disposal.
For a team that has no clear direction and has a superstar on an expiring contract, the Devils have several options to make the correct move. And let’s hope that is the case in the coming weeks.