Taylor Hall‘s days as a member of the New Jersey Devils are definitely numbered.
The team’s playoff chances are fading by the day, he is months away from free agency, there seems to be no progress in contract talks, and general manager Ray Shero is reportedly listening to offers from other teams around the league.
The Colorado Avalanche have been the odds on favorite to land him, and they were expecting to get an up close look at him on Friday with the Devils making their lone visit to Colorado. That did not happen however as the Devils held him out of the lineup due to what they called precautionary reasons.
NEWS: The #NJDevils are holding Taylor Hall (precautionary) out of tonight’s game at Colorado.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) December 14, 2019
Pierre LeBrun reported that Hall has not yet been traded but there is traction in trade talks and the Devils do not want to risk playing him at the moment.
With the speculation growing, it was only natural for Hall to be asked about the possibility on Friday ahead of the game.
Asked Taylor Hall if it was weird to get questions about Denver and the Avalanche. He pointed out that there have been lots of times where a frontrunner emerges and it doesn’t work out. Said it’s a nice city and they have a great team but he hasn’t thought about it much.
— Corey Masisak (@cmasisak22) December 13, 2019
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston mentioned on Saturday’s edition of Headlines that teams believe it could take as many as four pieces to complete a trade for Hall. He also added that the Avalanche are pushing to acquire him, perhaps as soon as the holiday roster freeze which begins on Dec. 19.
Why the Avalanche still make the most sense
It’s not hard to see why the Avalanche are so high on the list.
They have one of the best rosters in the league and are already a Stanley Cup contender. Adding Hall to their second line would easily make them one of the most intimidating and dangerous teams in the league. Combine that with the fact they have the salary cap space to fit the remainder of his current contract, as well as possessing the young assets to trade, and they are a near perfect match for the Devils.
The Avalanche, meanwhile, have superstars still in the prime of their careers, with several signed to below market contracts to give them added flexibility.
It might be the right time to pounce and add another superstar to go all in on a championship while the opportunity is there if the price is right.
It all comes down to the cost
At this point Hall is a luxury for the Avalanche.
Make no mistake, he would be a huge addition and probably make them the Stanley Cup favorite. But he is not a necessity, and there are some potential risks that could come with trading for him.
Giving up significant assets — high draft picks, multiple high-end prospects — for a player that could walk in a few months is always going to be a risk a team in Colorado’s spot has to weigh. If you win the Stanley Cup with him, nobody cares. But that is always far from a guarantee.
While their salary cap situation is great right now, re-signing him could also lead to some long-term complications.
Sam Girard has a new contract starting next season. Gabriel Landeskog will need a new deal the year after that. Let’s not forget about Cale Makar and how much he is going to cost in the future given his development.
Hall will also be 29 next season, and while he is still an excellent player he would require a significant investment for a player that’s probably already played his best hockey for someone else.
Set up for success either way
The Avalanche have done enough work to fix their scoring depth, they have a kings ransom of cheap young players coming through their system they can keep building around, and they still have the flexibility to look elsewhere for potential secondary players that might be more cost effective. In terms of both long-term salary cap space and assets they would have to give up.
Trading for him without giving up a Bowen Byram caliber prospect, or re-signing him to a long-term deal that does not crush your long-term salary cap outlook would be a no-brainer for the Avalanche.
But if neither of those things can be accomplished there is nothing wrong with looking elsewhere or standing pat because the team is still set up for long-term success even without him.