Arizona Coyotes Pending Taylor Hall Contract Dilemma

Taylor Hall trade deadline

With the Arizona Coyotes dropping eight of their last 10 games including three overtime clashes, why hasn’t his addition helped them more by now?

It has to be on their thought pattern for several reasons. Adding a player of Hall’s capabilities has not advanced them in the standings. It has moved them further from a coveted playoff spot. They resided in a tie for the first place back in the Pacific Division on December 16, 2019, a day before they acquired Hall.

Taylor Hall Contract Dilemma

When Taylor Hall was traded to the Arizona Coyotes, it certainly was not predicted that he’d end up in the desert. General manager John Chayka pulled off a trade most didn’t see coming, but if it hasn’t elevated the team’s standing, was it a worthwhile endeavour?

It is the general manager’s job to improve his team. If Chayka can be criticized for anything in the trade, it may have been that he gave up some future young talent. Certainly adding Hall had to be considered a positive move for the franchise’s goal to get to the postseason for the first time since 2012. Yet, the statistics don’t show it.

While Hall is performing admirably (18 points in 20 games) the team has not done that well. Some of the blame can be directed towards the loss of Darcy Kuemper who was playing his heart out for the team. He should be back soon, and that may give the management time to analyze the value of Taylor Hall going forward. Over the 20 games with Hall on the roster the team has a dismal 8-9-3 record. Of course, Kuemper went down in Hall’s second game as a Coyote and hasn’t returned yet. Keep that in mind.

So, is the rest of the team thinking that Hall will be able to be their playoff saviour? He has fit in well with linemates Christian Dvorak (7G, 4A) and Conor Garland (6G, 8A).

Salary Must be Considered

When the Coyotes acquired Hall, half of his annual $6 million salary was picked up by his former New Jersey Devils employer. Thus, there wouldn’t have been a path going forward to even consider trading for Hall. The Coyotes were very close to the salary cap top limit. The only thing that saved them was the long-term injured-reserve contract they had for Marian Hossa.

So there are some possible scenarios for what could happen to Hall. They need to make some moves to create some salary-cap space to afford the contract Hall will demand. Or, they need to trade him before he becomes a free agent to acquire replacement assets.

If the team continues to drop as it has recently, trading him may be the best option at some point for them. There will be plenty of teams looking to trade for Hall. Some can afford what he will want in a contract, which may be his last. There would be no shortage of teams interested in making a deal with Arizona. Before he was traded to the Coyotes no less than 12 teams had expressed interest in adding him to their front line.

Looking at it from this perspective, it’s clear to see that Hall is valuable even as a trade ingredient. That is if it doesn’t work out for him to stay in Arizona.

How to Come Up with the Money Taylor Hall Will Want

There are some possibilities to create cap space for the Coyotes to solve the Taylor Hall trade deadline dilemma. They currently will have three unrestricted free agents and four restricted free agents to consider. Of course, to afford a projected salary cap hit of eight years, $11 million AAV, the team would need to lose all the open contracts of the seven free agents on their roster and that is unlikely to go down.

They have to pay Phil Kessel ($6.8M), Derek Stepan ($6.5M), Nick Schmaltz ($5.85M), Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($8.25M), Christian Dvorak ($4.45M), and Clayton Keller ($7.15M).

General manager John Chayka merely avoided the topic of how to pay Hall if they can convince him to stay in Arizona.

Chayka told arizonasports.com, “The goal of this deal was certainly to get a player here for the long term that’s an elite player,” Chayka said. “Having said that, I think we had a bit of a different view on trying to extend the player throughout this process. Our view is we want Taylor to want to be here if he is extending. The only way for him to understand that is to be here.

“So it’s a good opportunity for us to bring him in. He wants to win, we want to win. We want to showcase what we’re about and what we have. And like I said, if I just called him up and asked him to extend, I don’t think that would’ve been the right process. So now we get a chance to show him and get that experience of what we’re doing here. It’s a bet on ourselves, but again, it’s a calculated gamble.”

Some Expiring Contracts to Consider

Of course, Chayka never mentioned how he was going to pay Hall’s huge contract. He will have just $785,000 of cap space for next season to payout. That is unless some of the contracts are possibly traded or left to seek free agency.

One possibility could be Michael Grabner who earns $3.35 million through next season. He’s struggling this season with only eight goals, three assists in 45 games. He has been a healthy scratch on numerous occasions alternating with young Christian Fischer due to non-performance issues. Fischer will be due a new contract since his entry-level deal ($821,666) will expire at the season’s end. Another candidate could be Carl Soderberg. At 34-years-old he still playing well with 13 goals, 16 assists in 54 games. He earns $4.75 million and his contract expires this year as well.

If anyone can determine a method of keeping Hall on the Coyotes’ team, it is general manager John Chayka. He is playing it cool right now because he realizes that if Hall doesn’t want to stay in Arizona, he can play the open market to see what he can get. If he wants to stay, then Chayka needs to work his magic to make it happen.

In Conclusion

There’s no doubt that Hall makes any team he’s playing with a better team. Perhaps there are still some adjustments to be made for him to help the Coyotes be where they want to be. Maybe if Chayka is offered a deal he can’t refuse, he will be traded at some point. As of now, he is a player this team needs to move to the next level. All options should be considered to keep him in Arizona.

In any case, this team had better figure it out. The time to solidify a playoff spot is decreasing game-by-game. With only 27 games remaining, it’s time to perform. Having Hall in your lineup has to help. Figuring out how to pay him is another entire topic of discussion.

Will Hall stay or will he go?

We’ll find out sometime before July 1st.

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