Pros and cons for the Arizona Coyotes in the Taylor Hall trade

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 02: New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall (9) sets up near the goal during the NHL hockey game between the New Jersey Devils and the Arizona Coyotes on December 2, 2017 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 02: New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall (9) sets up near the goal during the NHL hockey game between the New Jersey Devils and the Arizona Coyotes on December 2, 2017 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Taylor Hall sweepstakes are over, and he is headed to the Arizona Coyotes in a blockbuster trade. What are the pros and cons for the Coyotes’ biggest move in franchise history?

Taylor Hall’s time in New Jersey has come to a close, and well before the trade deadline. Hall has dominated the NHL news cycle as the star forward was all over the trade market, with a deal now finally being struck with the Arizona Coyotes.

The Coyotes acquired Hall from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2020 first round pick, a 2021 conditional third round pick and prospects Nick Merkley, Nathan Schnarr and Kevin Bahl. The Devils are also retaining 50 percent of Hall’s salary, giving him a cap hit of $3 million for the rest of the season.

The conditions on the 2021 third round pick are:

  • If the Coyotes re-sign Hall AND win a playoff round, the pick will become a 2021 first round pick.
  • If only one of those scenarios happen, the pick will will become a 2021 second round pick.
  • If none of those happen, the pick will remain a 2021 third round pick.

The Devils currently sit in 30th in the league despite a promising offseason, and were actively looking to trade the former Hart Trophy winner before his contract expired at the end of the season. The Devils preferred to get a deal done before the holiday roster freeze coming on Dec. 19, and that is what led to this deal being struck so early in the season.

Hall won the Hart trophy in the 2017-18 season after almost singlehandedly dragging the Devils to the playoffs with 93 points, but suffered through injuries last season and played only 33 games, still scoring at over a point-per-game pace with 37 points. This season, Hall has been the best player on an awful Devils team but has fallen behind his usual scoring pace a bit with 25 points in 30 games, which can be explained by his low shooting percentages of 5.5 percent. Hall has more than enough talent to bounce back, and should regress towards his career mean of 10.5 percent.

As for the Coyotes, this trade is definitely the biggest move in franchise history. The Coyotes currently sit atop the Pacific Division with 42 points and they are going all-in at a shot at some long desired playoff success.

The Coyotes should be a great fit for Hall considering the amount of firepower he brings to the table, but a deal for him may not be all positives. Let’s look at the pros and cons of the Hall trade for the Coyotes.

Pros to the Coyotes acquiring Taylor Hall

This is absolutely the biggest move in franchise history for the Coyotes, and for good reason. The Coyotes haven’t made the playoffs since 2012, and they’re finally putting it together this season with outstanding goaltending and a solid defensive system, but the one thing they desperately lacked was a true producer on offense.

Despite making a trade for Phil Kessel in the offseason to boost their offense, Arizona has not gotten nearly enough offensive production to be considered serious contenders. Clayton Keller leads the team with 23 points in 35 games, and Conor Garland is the leading goal scorer with 12 goals.

Kessel was supposed to help, but has disappointed so far this season with seven goals and 19 points. The Coyotes lead the Pacific Division despite that, but that is not going to be good enough down the stretch, especially in the playoffs. Hall solves that problem in spades, even if his production has dipped slightly so far this season. His 25 points still makes him the Coyotes’ leading scorer, with reason to believe it will pick back up.

Just looking at the deal itself for Hall, the Coyotes didn’t have to give up a roster player and kept all of their top prospects like Victor Soderstrom and Barrett Hayton. Merkly, Schnarr, and Bahl all have NHL potential, but the Coyotes could not afford to miss out of getting Hall for lower level prospects. Getting the deal done in December rather than at the trade deadline in February is also a huge boost, as it will allow Hall the extra time to adjust to the Coyotes’ system in time for the playoff push, and hopefully the playoffs.

Hall is also a player that’ll get fans into the seats for the Coyotes, who have had among the worst attendance numbers in the NHL for a strong majority of their existence. This move just showed everybody that they are willing to do whatever it takes to win, and fans should reward them for it for the rest of this season and beyond.

Cons to the Coyotes acquiring Taylor Hall

The Coyotes needed Hall badly, but now they’re going to have to rely on him very heavily if they want to make this deal worth it in the end, with little room for error. The center depth in Arizona still leaves plenty to be desired, with either Christian Dvorak and Derek Stepan centering the top line with Hall, and the struggling Kessel likely on his opposite wing. Hall will be relied on to not supplement, but to carry the Coyotes offensively if the slack isn’t picked up by the rest of the roster.

While there is no doubt that Hall is phenomenal and will boost the Coyotes at bare minimum, he is still having a bit of a down year and you can’t make the guarantee that it’s going to get better. For him to carry the Coyotes, he will need to be perfect and back to his Hart winning form from two seasons ago. Even if he does improve, if the Coyotes’ goaltending regresses, it might not matter. Not to mention that Hall has struggled with injuries in the past, and the Coyotes will be out of luck if those surface again.

Hall is also on an expiring contract and will also almost definitely be gone after this season, given his previously expressed interest to explore the free agent market in July. The odds of Arizona being able to keep Hall are next to zero, barring either a Stanley Cup run for Arizona or them making an absurdly high extension offer to keep Hall, which they won’t have the cap space for.

Arizona is banking on winning the Stanley Cup this season based on the trade, and the team around Hall might not be ready yet to make that kind of run. They’re also not a lock to the make the playoffs either. While they do lead the Pacific Division, they lead the second place Vegas Golden Knights by a single point. The difference between first in the division and the second wildcard spot is a meager two points, so just one bad stretch can dump them from the playoff picture entirely.

It’s not the most absurd risk in the world for the Coyotes to take given the caliber of player Hall can be, but this trade has the potential to blow up in their face if they end up missing the playoffs.

Regardless of the risks, this is a phenomenal and necessary move for the Coyotes. They have dwelled in the league’s basement for too long, and they need to start making some noise to continue to build that fanbase in Arizona. While Arizona still may not be Stanley Cup favorites with this move, hockey is worth getting excited about in the desert for the first time in years.

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