Devils send Taylor Hall to Coyotes for picks, prospects

Taylor Hall Trade
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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.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.