Arizona Coyotes Moving on From Taylor Hall

Taylor Hall #91 of the Arizona Coyotes

Back in December of last year, then Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka pulled off a trade to acquire forward Taylor Hall. The Coyotes hoped he could take them places.

That never happened. In fact, the team went 18-22-4 including the four games in the qualifying round and five games in the regular playoffs.

Taylor Hall Not Re-signing With Arizona Coyotes

The drama is over. The what-ifs are gone. The Taylor Hall stay in the desert has officially ended. To some, that is sad news. To others, it is a reality check. The Coyotes acquired him at a costly price. The team gave up three prospects and two draft selections to the New Jersey Devils. The jury is in, and the Chayka gamble came up snake eyes. In other words, he put the entire team’s destiny on one deal and it failed to pay off. I hope Chayka doesn’t gamble in Vegas, because he then might lose his life savings.

One thought of consummating a trade like that would be logical if the Coyotes were contending for a Cup. While they were in first place for a time in January, adding Hall didn’t get them over the hump. What added to that was the untimely and severe injury to goalie Darcy Kuemper in Hall’s second game in the desert. From that point forward, the Coyotes went a dismal 17-21-4. While they did make it to the playoffs due to the 24-team play-in rules created by a once-in-a-hundred-year pandemic, Arizona more than likely wouldn’t have qualified had the season ran its course.

Playoffs or No Playoffs

The Coyotes finished with 74 points and an 11 seed in the play-in series. They did manage to get past the Nashville Predators, winning the five-game series 3-1. Hall managed two goals and four assists in the nine postseason games. During the regular season, he accumulated 10 goals and 17 assists in 35 games. Then, in their disastrous playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche, the Coyotes were just outclassed in every facet of the series. Hall managed one goal and one assist in the one victory. He was on the ice for five of the 14 goals allowed by the Yotes in the last two embarrassing 7-1 losses.

The John Chayka Fiasco

While many may commend Chayka for bringing Taylor Hall to the desert, the cost turned out to be really detrimental to the team’s future. In an unrelated issue, what made things worse was the team’s training violation of prospects. After months of deliberation, the NHL decided to punish the organization by removing their first-round pick for 2020 and their second-round selection in 2021. While Chayka may not have directed this illicit behaviour, he was after all the general manager. It would be his job to know these things.

We may never know why Chayka left the organization but he has certainly left his fingerprints all over it. Getting back to normal may take some time. Hopefully, the team’s fans will be patient. Wait… they’ve been patient for 25 years and still no Cup, or a Cup Final.

Taylor Hall Was Indecisive

For quite some time Taylor Hall was playing both sides of the fence on whether he would stay in Arizona or leave. He stated he wanted to be with a winner and that money didn’t matter that much. Right. We all know every professional athlete holds out for the most money they can get. Hockey is a very physical and sometimes dangerous sport. As time ticked on, most knew Hall wasn’t going to stay. He wanted the big contract and mostly a Cup like every NHL player desires.

He may now explore free agency. One team Hall may land with is the powerful Colorado Avalanche. They have $22.4 million of cap space and possess an already talented team. If Hall’s dream is to win a Stanley Cup, he may just get that opportunity in Colorado. Hopefully, he won’t keep his new team in limbo on whether he will sign or not.

John Chayka’s Mismanagement of Cap Space

Let’s face it, Chayka handed out some pretty controversial contracts to unproven prospects. The most egregious of which was the eight-year $57.2 million deal he gifted a yet unproven player in Clayton Keller. Keller’s first year was sensational. He tallied 23 goals and 42 assists for 65 points. Well worth a contract he was awarded… IF he maintained or improved upon those numbers.

As a comparison, the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning‘s Brayden Point received a bridge deal of three years worth $6.75 million AAV. He is just about the same size as Keller, and plays centre and wing. Now, the best part. In 295 NHL games Point has scored 116 goals and 146 assists. Keller’s numbers don’t approach that with just 54 goals, and 104 assists in 237 games. Both signed their deals in September of 2019.

Did Chayka think he had a player similar to the talents of Point? Did he even consider that his team’s salary cap would be unmanageable by spending 8.77 percent of the cap available on a player who hasn’t really proven to be worth it? To further evaluate the two players, Point has a 0.97 points per game ratio. Keller only has a 0.67 points per game statistic.

The Phil Kessel Experiment Failed

Chayka also added former star forward Phil Kessel in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was a complete failure gathering just 14 goals and 24 assists for a mediocre 38 points. That was less than half of his previous two season’s average scoring statistics. When Hall was added it was thought that having both Kessel and Hall would be the one-two offensive punch the team had been missing for years. It never happened. Hall, the former Hart Trophy winner in 2017 just couldn’t excel on a team needing some offensive prowess in the Coyotes.

While new general manager Bill Armstrong inherited a mess, he is very skilled at developing young players and an expert in drafting them. Too bad that due to an agreement with his former employer, the St. Louis Blues, he was unable to participate in the draft this time around. Of course, since Chayka lost Arizona’s draft picks, Armstrong is only human and will do the best he can to get the team back on track.

Taylor Hall Will Help Some Team

Hall is a very skilled player. Wherever he lands he will help his new team but it wasn’t meant to be in Arizona. The only one who believed that was Chayka, and well… we all know how he mishandled that situation. Now it may take two-three years to get Arizona back to respectability. One thing is certain, for the contract that Keller received he had better get up there in the vicinity of Brayden Point’s production or better. If not it may be time to consider trading him. Keeping a player of better worth like Darcy Kuemper would much more sensible.

It can be agreed that the word ‘sensible’ may not have been in John Chayka’s vocabulary… at least not in relation to how he mismanaged the team’s finances.

The good news going forward is that the Taylor Hall drama is over. The better news is that Chayka is not around anymore. And, the even much better news is the Coyotes have a skilled, experienced, and sensible general manager now.

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