Devils had to trade Hall

Taylor Hall was finally traded today by the Devils. AP Photo via Getty Images

It’s finally done. Taylor Hall is officially no longer a New Jersey Devil. The ’17-18 Hart winner, who carried the Devils to its only postseason appearance since 2012, was traded with minor league forward Blake Speers to the Coyotes in exchange for three prospects, a 2020 first round pick and a conditional third.

Here’s a further breakdown via Twitter:

The three prospects are defenseman Kevin Bahl, center Nate Scnarr and right wing Nick Merkley. Of the trio, Bahl sounds like the key player to the deal for Devils GM Ray Shero. Ironically, the Coyotes kept better D prospect Victor Soderstrom and Bahl’s Ottawa 67’s junior teammate Noel Hoafenmayer. Please refer to Hasan’s excellent piece on the three prospects as they were rated well by Corey Pronman in Arizona’s system.

The Devils will retain half of Hall’s remaining salary ($6 million AAV). So, that enabled them to get a better return for a potential rental with the 28-year old scoring left wing expected to test the market next summer. He turns unrestricted on July 1.

Even though he went through some struggles due to the off ice distraction of not knowing his future, Hall still was leading the Devils in scoring with 25 points (6-19-25). He was a healthy scratch the final two games of the team’s road trip at Colorado and Arizona. Two teams heavily involved in talks for Hall. To their credit, New Jersey played well in both games and posted a 2-1 win over Arizona to earn interim coach Alain Nasreddine’s first win.

Poetically, it turned out to be Hall’s new team. The former Oilers 2010 first overall pick came over to the Devils in a straight up deal for defenseman Adam Larsson on June 29, 2016. A trade many hockey pundits laughed at due to not understanding how Edmonton could deal a player of Hall’s caliber one for one for a defensive D in Larsson.

It’s interesting that the Oilers made the playoffs in ’16-17, even reaching the second round. Larsson fit in while Hall didn’t find his footing right away. However, things changed in Year Two. He was brilliant in posting 39 goals with 54 assists for 93 points in 76 games to carry the Devils to the postseason. So remarkable was he that Hall became the only Devil to win the league MVP. He edged out Nathan MacKinnon. It was well deserved. In a five game first round defeat to the Lightning, he had two goals and four assists.

An injury riddled ’18-19 tarnished his third year in Newark. He still was over a point-per-game with 37 points (11-26-37) in 33 games. With Shero adding first overall pick Jack Hughes along with PK Subban, Wayne Simmonds and Nikita Gusev, the Devils had higher expectations. But they never materialized. Instead, the team severely underperformed which led to coach John Hynes’ dismissal. Nasreddine replaced him.

It wasn’t long before rumors started circulating that the Devils were listening to offers for impending free agent Hall. They knew they weren’t going to keep him. So, it made perfect sense to start seeing what the market was. With Hall sitting out for precautionary reasons, it was obvious to everyone his days were numbered.

He finishes his Devils career with 76 goals, 132 assists and 198 points over 211 games.

For New Jersey, they’re probably not done selling. As Hasan has alluded to in previous posts, both Simmonds and Sami Vatanen could be available before the trade deadline in late February. Each can hit the market next summer. Both should have value to contenders. Even captain Andy Greene could be a candidate to get moved for the same reason.

For the Devils, it now becomes about evaluating what they have. Michael McLeod tallied two assists in their win over the weekend in The Desert. Jesper Boqvist scored a goal. With Hughes the centerpiece plus Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri, they have to figure out who belongs as part of their rebuild.

Expect even more changes over the long haul.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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