Taylor Hall is on his way to the Arizona Coyotes as part of a blockbuster trade with the New Jersey Devils.
The Devils announced on Monday they have traded Hall — the 2018 league MVP — in exchange for Arizona’s 2020 first-round draft pick (conditional), their 2021 third-round draft pick (also conditional), and prospects Nick Merkley, Nate Schnarr and Kevin Bahl.
The Coyotes are also acquiring Blake Speers as part of the trade.
The Devils are retaining 50 percent of Hall’s salary. He is in the final year of a contract that pays him $6 million this season. He is eligible for unrestricted free agent after this season.
The conditions on the two draft picks are as follows, via the Devils:
If Arizona’s 2020 first-round selection is in the top three, New Jersey will receive Arizona’s first-round pick in 2021.
The conditions on the 2021 pick are as follows: the third-round pick in 2021 becomes a second-round selection if Arizona wins a Stanley Cup Playoff round OR Taylor Hall re-signs in Arizona. The third-round pick in 2021 becomes a first-round selection if Arizona wins a Stanley Cup Playoff round AND Taylor Hall re-signs in Arizona. If neither condition happens, New Jersey still receives the 2021 third-round pick.
While the Colorado Avalanche were the odds on favorites to land Hall, the Coyotes started to become a contender for him over the weekend as the Devils continued to hold him out of the lineup.
“Taylor Hall is one of the elite talents in the game today; a Hart Trophy winner, a high-end playmaker and one of the NHL’s most talented forwards,” Coyotes general manager John Chayka said in a team statement announcing the trade. “We are beyond thrilled to add Taylor to our team as we continue in our mission of bringing a Stanley Cup home to Arizona.”
He is expected to join the Coyotes in San Jose for their game against the Sharks on Tuesday.
The Coyotes perspective
This is a huge win for the Coyotes because it gives them the exact type of player they need at minimal cost. They have the defense and goaltending to compete right now, while the addition of Hall gives them the front-line scorer they desperately need.
It also continues to show the Coyotes are all-in on trying to win right now. They made a huge splash over the summer by acquiring Phil Kessel from the Pittsburgh Penguins, and now picked up a former league MVP just a few months later. And they did so without having to give up a significant part of their future. None of the prospects involved are among the Coyotes’ top young players, while the condition on the first-round pick protects them in the event the miss the playoffs and land a top-three pick in the lottery.
Even if Hall doesn’t re-sign after the season it’s a worthy gamble for a team that needs to win and show its fan-base that it’s going to do what it takes to put a winner on the ice. When you have a chance to add a player like Hall for that cost you have to do it.
They are in first place in the Pacific Division at the time of the trade, while their acquisition of Hall keeps him away from their primary competition within the division. That includes the suddenly fading Oilers who could have absolutely used Hall.
The Devils perspective
This has to be disappointing for Devils fans.
Just a few years after getting Hall in one of the most lopsided one-for-one NHL trades in recent memory, they have to say goodbye after getting just one playoff appearance and one postseason victory out of his time with the team.
Is it a great return, or even a good return? No, it is not. It is a quantity over quality deal as none of the prospects involved project as top-line players, while they also forfeit the small chance the 2020 pick could be a top-three pick. But there’s also probably not much they could do about that. It was becoming increasingly clear Hall was not going to re-sign in New Jersey, and with only a few months remaining on his deal they didn’t have a ton of leverage to hold out for a massive return.
It is also the latest crushing blow to the 2019-20 season that started with such high hopes but has turned into bitter disappointment.
The Devils won the 2019 draft lottery, acquired P.K. Subban, Nikita Gusev, and Wayne Simmonds over the summer, and were going to get a full season of a healthy Hall after he missed most of the 2018-19 season due to injury. But the lack of quality goaltending, a bunch of blown leads, and a roster that simply wasn’t as good as they hoped has the team at the bottom of the NHL standings and in sell mode ahead of the NHL trade deadline. With Hall gone and head coach John Hynes fired, replaced by Alain Nasreddine, the significant changes have already started. These probably will not be the only changes.