The Hall Report
Going into the 2019 offseason, number one on general manager Ray Shero’s to-do list is probably to extend star winger Taylor Hall. But, Hall may not be interested in extending his contract with the team this summer, according to a report from David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period. This brings into question what the shape of the Devils will be after the 2019-20 season if Hall chooses not to re-sign.
Obviously, Devils’ fans want Hall to be the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future, and after his success in New Jersey, this news may come as a bit of a surprise. Maybe he wants to first see how the future of the Devils looks before signing a long-term deal, but I think fans expected a little more faith. Especially when you consider the acquisition of the number one pick in the 2019 Entry Draft, upcoming prospects in the organization, and the obscene amount of cap space that New Jersey has. Though I wouldn’t rule out Hall extending later in the summer or even during the 2019-20 season, it certainly adds another concern to the Devils’ rebuilding process.
If Hall doesn’t re-sign this offseason, it may cause Shero to be less aggressive with the remaining cap space he has because of the players New Jersey has to re-sign next offseason. Think about the restricted free agents that will need contracts like Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, and Mackenzie Blackwood. Not to mention if they want to keep 2020 free agents like Andy Greene and Sami Vatanen, too. Even though Hall’s value is infinitely higher than those defensemen, Shero may have to reshape his plans to accommodate for Hall.
Assuming Shero was prepared to offer Hall a king’s ransom this offseason, he will have to produce the season after his knee surgery if he wants the same offer from another team. It also adds pressure on the Devils to be good because what MVP-caliber player would want to re-sign with a team who missed the playoffs twice in a row. If Shero loses faith that Hall will re-sign, he might even consider trading him for assets, since Hall doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his current contract.
Don’t Panic Devils Fans
Now, this is a big jump to conclusions coming from a report that as of now Hall isn’t ready to re-sign, especially since Ray Shero and Taylor Hall’s agent denounced the report.
But this news still shocked and scared Devils fans, which says something about our reliance on Hall. I’m sure most Devils’ fans are in the same boat as I am, in that they don’t even want to think about a future without Hall. After five years of missing the playoffs, he pretty much carried the 2017-18 Devils in with an MVP year, instantly winning over the hearts of the team’s fans. Watching Zach Parise leave the Devils in 2012, I couldn’t bear to see the same happen with Hall. So with the draft rapidly approaching and free agency on the horizon, our only option is to pray that Shero will get Hall to put pen to paper.