New Jersey Devils’ star forward Taylor Hall has all but made his intentions clear to his team’s front office; he has little intention of signing a long-term extension with the team.
Hall, a former league MVP with the Devils, spent time on the shelf this past season due to injury while the Devils tanked their way to another first-overall selection. He has just one year remaining on his contract, with a modest cap hit of only $6 million.
If the Devils have no shot of re-signing the superstar forward to an extension, the Devils can take their leverage in trade talks and toss it out the window. Other general managers will know he is likely to walk and will be less inclined to deal high-end assets for a future free agent. That is, unless the bidding war for Hall’s services drives up the price.
I highly doubt we would see a Peter Chiarelli-esque trade like the Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall deal that brought Hall to Jersey in the first place, but talk of a potential trade brings up the question of what is fair value for the star?
Personally, I would be surprised if the package in return for Hall doesn’t include a highly-touted prospect, similar to the deal that saw Erik Brannstrom sent to the Senators for Mark Stone. A name that I could see packaged with picks or roster players for Hall would be Owen Tippett, a former first-round pick in the Florida Panthers organization. Tippett is a highly-valued scoring prospect and could be the focal point for a team that already has Nico Hischier and the first pick in this year’s draft to build a future around.
On the Panthers’ side, pairing Hall with two-way powerhouse Alexander Barkov would be a match made in heaven for Panther fans. As an organization the Panthers have shown that they don’t have a shyness from trading picks or prospects for proven scoring wingers. Just last season, they shipped three picks for Mike Hoffman, and even traded a package including former first-round picks in a deal for 27-year-old Pavel Bure in 1999.
The Devils may have their hands tied with their star, but they need to do due diligence and explore the trade market for Hall rather than hoping he changes his mind about signing an extension. Losing a player of his caliber in free agency will be similar to the magnitude of the John Tavares sweepstakes. However, the Devils don’t have a Barry Trotz and Mat Barzal waiting in the wings to lead them to the playoffs that following season.
The Devils need to start a rebuild as soon as possible, rather than indefinitely hovering in mediocrity. Get a blue-chip prospect and some draft picks to help you down the road and compliment your first-overall selection this season.