The entire team seems to be all in on a playoff push after Devils alternate captain Brian Boyle stated “we know we won’t go 34-0 but we’re sure going to try” during a pregame interview. Realistically, getting a bid into the playoffs most likely won’t happen for New Jersey this season, so what’s next?
With the trade deadline less than a month away the Devils organization is taking a hard look at who is in their system, what can they get in return for certain players and who is coming into the 2019 draft class. I could sit here and list players that should be up for trade bait, unfortunately the list of who not to trade is a lot shorter.
It should go without saying that former first overall pick Nico Hischier is on that list, in only his second season he currently sits at 32 points (13G, 19A). Nico has an incredible talent that I feel hasn’t even been unleashed yet, and it is starting to show in the absence of Taylor Hall. Kyle Palmieri continues to be a bright spot in the Devils lineup leading the team in goals and points with 23 goals adding 16 assists for a total of 39points. In an interview with Devils beat reporter Amanda Stein, Palmieri said “We want to start putting some pressure on the teams above us and see what happens, you see teams get hot and cold this time of year, last year we went on a run ourselves. We just have to focus on the next game and see if we can string a couple together and see if we can put pressure on the other team.”
There are a few other players who have floated between New jersey and Binghamton who I believe deserve to stay on the roster for a few years but let’s cut to the player everyone is asking about.
Taylor Hall currently sits on the IR but so far this season has 11 goals 26 assists and 37 points total in 33 games. All signs say Hall is a must sign, but does that mean New Jersey shouldn’t see what kind of offers are out there for him? Taylor Hall is now a Hart Trophy winner that alone will most likely make his yearly contract a minimum of $8.5million, over who knows how many years. The organizations priority is to build a Stanley Cup caliber team around Hall, the issue is coming into year 5 of Shero’s five-year plan how close is New Jersey to getting that team? There is no doubt Hall Led the hard charge into the playoffs last year scoring multiple goal games on numerous occasions, but can he carry the team again in the future?
Hall lead the team last year with 93 points finishing 41 points ahead of second point getter Nico Hischier. You pay a player big money you should expect him to carry the team every night, realistically that’s just not how things work, injuries happen, players fall into slumps and the plan to build a team around a certain player just doesn’t work out. New Jersey is missing pieces on offense, defense and for the first time in a long-time goaltending.
To upgrade these positions it’s all about trades, drafting and MONEY. Money is where the Taylor Hall contract comes in. Can the Devils give Taylor Hall the money he will most likely ask for and still afford to build a cup caliber team around him, or do they try to negotiate with Hall on his contract and maybe see who is willing to trade for him. The Colorado Avalanche got a great trade deal for Matt Duchene, not comparing the two players but Colorado finds themselves making a hard playoff push and could very well have a first overall pick in the 2019 draft thanks to Ottawa. Again, I’m not saying the Devils must trade Taylor Hall, but I don’t see the harm in seeing what’s out there, after all a sports franchise is a business.
At the end of the 2016-2017 season Devils GM Ray Shero and Hall had dinner together where Hall described the Devils as “the right fit.” This could very well help the Devils, it’s no secret Taylor Hall enjoys playing in New jersey, he loves the fan base he enjoys living in the area he does, all this plays a major factor. Ray Shero doesn’t seem like the GM to spend big money on bringing players to New Jersey, he likes to use the draft and mold young players. During an interview with NHL.com Shero stated “We will definitely talk after the season, and he is a priority, but an announcement, if any, won’t come until after (July 1), per league rules. Our feelings haven’t changed about Taylor. He’s an incredible addition to our team and franchise. Like I said before, he has come in, bought in and transformed this franchise.
This is a faster, younger and more exciting team in part because of Taylor. We made a trade for a player that became the MVP which is only the second time NHL history that has happened (Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks). I think we have a lot of unfinished business and it’s been a great fit for both sides.”
The 2019-2020 season marks year 5 on the plan, and from the sounds of it, Ray Shero and the Devils organization are all in on Taylor Hall.
Photos: Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images,