Anyone else thinking that the Taylor Hall trade saga has turned into the Taylor Hall trade fiasco, at least from a New Jersey perspective?
Hall’s own team asked him this past weekend to sit out two games, presumably expecting he’d quickly be traded. Yet no trade materialized.
That can’t be a good sign for New Jersey and for Hall’s trade value.
The deeper we go into the season, the less Hall’s value, especially as a rental. The more complications that come up in moving him — and surely a major league complication came up to stymie a trade this weekend — the less his value. ‘
This could be good news for teams interested in Hall but not willing to pay the highest price for him, similar to what Vegas paid for Mark Stone last trade deadline.
Of course, I’m not hockey insider. This is all speculation on my part. But here’s how things appear to have unfolded in New Jersey with Hall this fall and early winter and what it means to the trade market:
- It’s clear that heading into the year, New Jersey was hoping Hall and the Devils would have a huge year, built around Hall, P.K. Subban, Nikita Gusev, Jack Hughes and Wayne Simmonds and others. That hasn’t happened. If it had happened, maybe Hall and New Jersey could have reached a new contract. But that all fell apart very early in the year, with hockey’s top insider, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, saying on the Tim and Sid Show on Oct. 17 that he could see New Jersey moving Hall: “There’s no question that as New Jersey has struggled to win this has become more and more of a conversation around the league: ‘How long will they wait?’ The other thing, too, is the Devils know if they’re not looking like a consistent playoff team the chances of him staying are extremely unlikely. So they know they have to get going… They realize that if it doesn’t change they’re going to have to start having this conversation with other clubs.”
- On Nov. 1, another sharp hockey insider, TSN’s Frank Seravalli, listed Hall as 15th overall on the TSN trade bait list.
- On Nov. 15, Friedman dropped a bomb on Oilers Now, talking to team insider Bob Stauffer: “I think more likely than not he gets dealt. I think the bigger question is how deep does Ray Shero go on this. But I would expect he’s going to get traded.”
- On Dec 4, Friedman sounded even more certain: “He is going to get traded. They are looking at it now. They’re taking a run at doing it. I’m not guaranteeing anything. But they’re at least trying and checking out the market.” At that point, Friedman didn’t sound bullish on the Oilers as the prime destination. “I think there’s a limit on the what the Oilers are willing to do. I don’t even know if there’s a guarantee that he’s going to extend right now either. I think generally he’s preferred to wait until the end of the year. I don’t know if anybody trading for him now is even going to get the opportunity to try to sign him. I just think Edmonton, they’re interested, but there’s a limit to what they want to do. I have a feeling that threshold for this deal is going to exceed that.”
- Friedman’s analysis at that point sounded exactly right, that if Hall was going to get traded, some other team with more assets to trade, more cap room to sign him and more of a need for a dynamic attacker would outbid the Oilers.
- But it was at this same point — with Friedman mentioning that Hall might not extend his contract and might prefer to sign in July when he’s an Unrestricted Free Agent — that it struck me the Hall trade saga was spiralling out of control for New Jersey. I mean, Friedman is a solid and thorough reporter. He didn’t tell us how he knew Hall might want until July 1 to sign, but as a credible and trusted source, we knew Friedman wasn’t making up that information. For New Jersey, this was bad news.
- The best case scenario for the Devils would be Hall moving to a new team in a trade-and-sign scenario, with Hall inking a new long term deal with his new team. That would justify Hall’s new team paying a high price for him in trade, maybe similar to the price that Las Vegas paid for Mark Stone last trade deadline, a first round draft pick and an A or A- prospect in Erik Brannstrom. That was the precedent in terms of top value for Hall, the likely return if things went New Jersey’s way. But things haven’t gone New Jersey’s way, not with news leaking that Hall was likely going UFA, news which has only been reinforced this past weekend.
- In his most recent Sunday, Dec. 15 report, Friedman said of Hall: “I’ve mentioned several times I don’t believe Hall will sign during the season, and New Jersey is well aware of that. But, that doesn’t mean the Devils won’t allow a conversation if they get an offer they like that’s contingent on one. Not every team will consider that essential, but a couple might.”
- Could it be that Hall’s camp has somehow made it clear to a prospective buyer, say Arizona, that the player is not interested in signing there long-term, and that this is why there was no deal with Arizona this weekend? Could it be that New Jersey will now have to circle back to other lesser offers for Hall? Whatever the case, him sitting out two games and not getting dealt looks like a bad omen for the Devils, a fiasco even. What went wrong?
- It could be some team with the assets, ability and intent to sign Hall long term will still make a move. But it feels like that moment has already passed in this trade deal.
- As a pure rental, Hall will not get what Ottawa got from Vegas. Maybe Hall’s value drops to a A-/B+ prospect and a conditional pick, both lottery protected and its value determined by whether or not Hall’s new team gets into the playoffs and goes deep there. Maybe a minor pro prospect is also thrown in.
- For the Oilers such an offer might be Jesse Puljujarvi, Caleb Jones or William Lagesson, and a second round pick, which could bump up to a first if the Oilers make the playoffs and/or win a round or two. I never thought the Devils would take that kind of an offer from Edmonton, or a similar one from a team like the Avs, but that’s where this appears to be trending. Hall is now a pure rental, and rentals no longer command a huge price in the NHL.