The reaction to this is sure to be level-headed on both sides. Former Oiler and current New Jersey Devil Taylor Hall is entering the final year of his contract, and questions have already begun to rise about whether or not he will re-sign with his current team. Hall has been non-committal, and some believe that could lead to New Jersey testing the market on the franchise forward.
Traded by ex-GM Peter Chiarelli for Adam Larsson in June of 2016, could Edmonton bring Hall back under Ken Holland? After all, the Oilers desperately need help on the wings and need to form a second scoring line to follow the McDavid line. Who better than Hall?
Why Is He Out There?:
As mentioned above, Hall is entering the final year of his contract and will hit free agency on July 1, 2020. The Devils, like Edmonton during Hall’s tenure, appear stuck in neutral. They’ve selected first overall more times (twice) than they’ve made the playoffs (once) since the one-for-one fleecing three summers ago.
At this point in time, the Devils don’t look anything like a Stanley Cup contender. It stands to reason that Hall, sick of being stuck on poor teams throughout his career, could go to market looking for a better situation. He hasn’t shown any willingness to commit to the Devils long-term at this time, although that very well could change.
What Does He Do Well?:
Friend of the blog Lowetide uses a phrase to describe players like Hall. Hall is a ‘river pusher’, a player that drives possession, creates offensive chances and makes the players around him better. He’s a proven top-line threat in the NHL, and for my money is one of the three best left wingers in the league currently.
The only thing holding Hall back is injury, something that was a concern all the way back in his draft year of 2010. Hall played in only 33 games in 2018-19, with his season ending prematurely. He did post fantastic numbers, however, with boxcars of 11-26-37 and a Corsi For percentage of 53.8% at five-on-five. For comparisons sake, that Corsi For was +6.5% relative to his teammates.
Although the injury hides it, Hall provided the Devils with yet another season of elite offensive production to go with terrific possession metrics. If he had stayed healthy, it would have been a strong encore to Hall’s MVP season in 2017-18, where he posted a career-high 93 points and led New Jersey to their first playoff berth since 2012.
Oiler fans don’t need me to tell them what Hall does well. He possesses immense skill and blinding speed, with a willingness to play a physical game. He isn’t afraid of the tough areas, sometimes being a little too willing to risk the body to make a play or create a scoring chance.
Hall is the complete offensive package. Speed, skill, consistent production and strong possession metrics. When you put Taylor Hall on a line, it will almost always be a scoring line that controls play. Edmonton sorely lacks a player like that to help Connor McDavid.
All numbers via hockey-reference.
Here’s a look at Hall’s scouting report via The Sports Forecaster.
Assets: Is an explosive skater with supreme puck skills, natural scoring ability and tremendous determination. Can make spectacular plays look easy. Goes to the net with authority and is a great finisher. Displays constant energy.
Flaws: Has a tendency to play with sheer reckless abandon, which leads to plenty of injuries. Needs a little more work on his defensive-zone coverage in order to maximize output. Could stand to slow his game down just a tad.
Career Potential: Electrifying, star winger.
Where Should He Play / Where Will He Play?:
There really isn’t any debate as to where Taylor Hall belongs on a depth chart. Outside of a handful of teams, he would be the best left winger on a roster. He’s a legit top-line attacker in the NHL.
As for Edmonton, Hall would slide in nicely on the second line. Think about it, the Draisaitl/McDavid duo tearing up the top unit, with Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins following them up. It would be the most lethal one-two punch in the Pacific Division.
Hall would be Edmonton’s best winger, by far, but putting him on the second line would be like what the Blackhawks did with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. That worked out okay.
What Will He Cost?:
In terms of trade, Hall is going to cost Edmonton a lot more than they got in return three years ago. If the Devils are moving him, younger assets would certainly be in command. The 8th overall pick in Friday’s draft would be appealing. That wouldn’t be nearly enough.
The Devils would likely be looking for a prospect as well. Think someone along the lines of Caleb Jones or Ethan Bear. They’d probably want a young forward too. This could be a good spot to move Jesse Puljujarvi, but Tyler Benson might be the ask. Of course, with Hall making $6,000,000 per season, Edmonton would need to move salary too. Perhaps veteran D Kris Russell heads the other way to offset some of the money.
Contract wise, because that is a factor too, Hall won’t be cheap. He’s likely to get the max term of eight years, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he earned $9,500,000 – $10,500,000 on his next deal.
If Ken Holland wants to be loved in this city, trading for Taylor Hall to give Oiler fans what they were robbed of three summers ago would be a great place to start. The Oilers would immediately have two scoring lines and be a legit playoff contender in my opinion.
The cost will be dear, however, and I don’t think there is a match. Unless Hall believes he has some unfinished business to handle in Northern Alberta, a reunion just doesn’t seem like it is in the cards.