As far as NHL roster move goes, June 30, 2016 was one of the craziest non-trade deadline/free agency days in recent NHL history.
That, of course, was the day P.K. Subban was traded for Shea Weber, the day Steven Stamkos decided to remain with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the day the New Jersey Devils picked up Taylor Hall from the Edmonton Oilers for Adam Larsson.
Each one of those moves was significant in its own way and will have a huge impact on every team involved for the foreseeable future. Some of those impacts will be better than others.
But the one move that seemed to be perfect for the team making it in every possible way was the Devils’ ability to acquire Hall, one of the best players in the league at his position and the type of player the Devils desperately needed.
Just five games into the 2016-17 season and Hall is already showing why he was such a massive addition for the Devils.
Since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, with a roster that was built around Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, the Devils have been unable to make a return to trip to the postseason due in large part to an offense that was gutted following that deep postseason run (Parise and Kovalchuk were both gone within two years) and has never been able to replace the top-line talent it lost. The only team that has scored fewer goals than the Devils’ 673 since the start of the 2012-13 season is Buffalo, while nobody has averaged fewer shots on goal per game.
It is an offense that has wasted most of the prime years of one of the best goalies in hockey (Cory Schneider) and has been desperate need of a game-breaking forward up front.
There are really only two ways to get that type of player when they are still in their prime years: The top of the draft, or hope that Peter Chiarelli is running a team that has one because you might be able to trade for him.
Enter Taylor Hall to New Jersey.
It’s only been five games at this point, but so far Hall has proven to be everything the Devils needed him to be. A game-changing forward. As of Sunday he has three goals and is pretty much directly responsible for all of the offense in the Devils’ two wins.
He scored both goals in a 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks earlier this week, and then on Saturday scored the overtime winner against the Minnesota Wild when he forced a turnover in the defensive zone, nearly went coast-to-coast with it, then finished the game with a wide open shot that beat Devan Dubnyk.
Hall on his own is not going to be enough to completely fix the Devils offense over the course of a full season (or from a long-term outlook). But he is a heck of a place to start, and he has given the Devils plenty of reasons to be excited over the first two weeks of the 2016-17 season.