Normally, I don’t put too much stock in rumors. However, it seems likely that Taylor Hall has played his last home game for the Devils. If that truly is the case, the former 2017-18 Hart Trophy winner at least scored on the power play in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Blackhawks.
The latest rumor has the potential 2020 unrestricted free agent scoring forward landing in Colorado. If it happens, it would strengthen an already very good team led by Nathan MacKinnon that is looking to challenge for the Stanley Cup.
Tyler Kelley was correct on the Devils trading for and signing Nikita Gusev last summer. We’ll see if he nails this one as well. Chris Wassel I know quite well. He is reputable and usually has good sources.
If it does come to fruition, what will the Devils get back in return for Hall? Is recent 2019 Avalanche fourth pick Bowen Byram a possibility? The highly rated 18-year old defense prospect has three goals and 14 assists in 26 games this season. In ’18-19, he posted 26 goals and 45 assists totaling 71 points to break out for the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. Byram added 26 points (8-18-26) in 22 playoff games.
A guy like Hall should bring back a good return. Even with him off to a slow start in the goal department with only 5 to go with 18 helpers for 23 points on a low scoring Devils team, that still leads them in points. If he does indeed move to a contender such as Colorado, it could be just what he needs. He’s 28 and his average cap hit is $6 million this season.
Following an injury riddled ’18-19 that limited him to 33 games where he still produced 37 points (11-26-37), it’s been a struggle to finish for the Calgary native. He’s heard the boos at home games and vented to reporters about it which definitely didn’t sit well with fans. It’s astonishing that only a year and a half ago, he carried the team to the postseason with 93 points (39-54-93) to become the first New Jersey Devil to win league MVP. Ironically, he edged out MacKinnon in a very close vote.
Imagine if they wind up playing together in Colorado with Mikko Rantanen. Colorado team captain Gabriel Landeskog just returned after missing over a month. He scored a goal in his first game back. A one goal win at Montreal.
The Avalanche are looking for secondary scoring. If they can add Hall to an improved supporting cast that features Nazem Kadri, Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky, they certainly will be tough to beat next Spring. Featuring Calder favorite Cale Makar on the blueline and Philipp Grubauer in net, Colorado would be all in.
As for the Devils, who currently sit in last place with 23 points, which is only more than lowly Detroit, it looks like another rebuild for a team that replaced John Hynes with interim coach Alain Nasreddine. PK Subban has been a colossal bust so far who seems more visible on Twitter promoting crap while his play for the team has been brutal. Wayne Simmonds isn’t scoring consistently. Neither is top pick Jack Hughes, who recently returned from a lower body injury after blocking a shot. Sami Vatanen will play tonight which is good news.
The thing is both Vatanen and Simmonds also could be moved since they’re in the last year of their contracts. But moving on from Hall is huge. GM Ray Shero must get it right. Otherwise, more New Jersey fans will lose faith completely.