On Dec. 16, 2019 Arizona Coyotes general manager/President of hockey operations John Chayka pulled off a trade to acquire forward Taylor Hall. It wasn’t without some pain in the return, as he had to give up quite a bit in order to add Hall to the Arizona lineup. Three (that’s right) promising prospects went to the New Jersey Devils in return. In addition, the Devils got Arizona’s first round 2020 pick and a conditional third round selection in 2021. Hall didn’t come cheap, so what now?
Coyotes Must Re-sign Taylor Hall
The three prospects the Desert Dogs relinquished were forwards Nicholas Merkley, Nate Schnarr, and defenceman Kevin Bahl. While Merkley is the only young player in that group who has any NHL game experience, Schnarr and Bahl hold skills which may elevate them to that level. Merkley, who has been plagued by injuries played four games with New Jersey and tallied one goal, and one assist. Schnarr participated in 43 games in the AHL gathering three goals and 14 assists. Bahl, who is stands 6′-7″, 240 pounds played 54 games in the OHL and scored six goals, 25 assists.
The Coyotes gave up plenty to get Hall, now the question is apparent. Can they re-sign him? There is no question that Hall makes the Coyotes a better team, although their record didn’t really show that since his arrival in the desert. He had accumulated 10 goals, 17 assists in 35 games before the suspension of play. If you add in the 30 games he played for the Devils, he has a very respectable 16 goals, 36 assists in 65 games. Imagine if the Coyotes had him an entire season.
That is the intention of Chayka. Getting Hall for an entire season, or better yet perhaps locking him in for eight years. That would be the maximum the team would be able to add his name to a new contract. There’s no doubt other teams would like him to join their team as well. Not many players score 52 points in 65 games, and certainly not a player wearing an Arizona Coyotes uniform.
What Taylor Hall Adds to the Arizona Coyotes
Hall has speed, a terrific shot and isn’t afraid to hit someone. He has a nose for the puck and knows what to do with it when he gets it. When you can put him on a line with Christian Dvorak and Conor Garland, magic happens. Dvorak is an excellent faceoff and possession player who is an astute two-way player. Garland is all over the place like a tornado. He makes things happen and causes turnovers. Throw Hall into that mix and you have instant offence. That offence is exactly what is lacking on this team so keeping Hall is imperative.
Hall has fit in nicely with the Coyotes game plan, so it’s mystifying why the team hasn’t done better with him in the lineup. Much of that could have been caused by the injury to Darcy Kuemper. It would have been interesting to see what kind of record the team would have had if Kuemper was able to stay healthy.
Salary Cap Issues
Hall has not shown his hand as to what he intends to do as far as free agency goes. There was not a short supply of teams who were interested in his services before the Coyotes landed him. Just imagine Hall playing for an already gifted team like the Colorado Avalanche. They will have plenty of cap space to work with as their till is much more full than the Arizona club’s. The Av’s will have about $24.9 million but have quite a few free agents to possibly sign.
The Yotes may have just $4 million to negotiate a new pact for Hall. This is assuming the cap rising to $84 million. The amount of money the NHL will lose even if the season resumes, could affect the cap even staying put at the present $81.5 million or rising very little. This is also not taking into consideration what happens to players whose contracts are expiring, or any trades Chayka may implement.
Taylor Hall Needs to Stay in the Desert
The Coyotes lack a player of Hall’s stardom and he can help the younger players develop. Adding Phil Kessel was supposed to do that, but Phil has really struggled this season for some reason. If he can get back on track and put at least 60-65 points up, having Hall would be that much more valuable.
Hall has stated that he wants to be with a winner. So far that hasn’t worked out. Yet, he seems to be happy here and likes the lifestyle. Whether that plays into his final decision to stay here is an unknown for now. If (and that’s a very conditional word) Chayka can pull off some magic to create enough cap space, he should do all he can to retain Hall.
The competition for Hall will be brutal. Only he and his agent can decide what is best for his career and goals going forward. It’s a no-brainer that the fans of the Coyotes would love to see Taylor Hall in an Arizona Coyotes jersey next season.
The true value of his play may be exhibited if the Coyotes were to qualify for the playoffs if and when the league decides it’s safe to play hockey again.
Wouldn’t it be a thrill to see Taylor Hall shows off his moves in the playoffs?