Taylor Hall is once again on the trade block.
“He might be out,” Sabres interim head coach Don Granato said before his team suited up against the Devils on Monday night. “We still, undetermined yet. But it’s just part of it, it’s part of the business. Taylor knows that.”
Well, when the lineup was announced, the winger was indeed out. With the NHL trade deadline less than a week away (April 12 at 3 p.m. ET), Hall was held out as a precaution to preserve his health and his trade value.
The fact that Hall is available for the right asking price is not a surprise considering his tenure in Western New York has been, for lack of a better word, atrocious. In 37 games he collected two goals and 19 points. Yes, you’ve read that right, two goals in 37 games, and the first came on opening night.
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It’s not what was expected when he signed a one-year, $8 million deal in the offseason. It’s not what was expected when the 2018 Hart Trophy winner reunited with ex-coach Ralph Krueger, who worked with him for three years in Edmonton and who he praised during his media availability following the signing. And, it’s not what was expected when he lined up next to top NHL centerman Jack Eichel.
Yes, Hall has battled injuries in the last few years and he only dressed for 33 games in 2018-19 due to a knee injury that resulted in arthroscopic surgery to remove bone fragments. But he also has some firepower with 582 points in 664 career games. One major concern though is that the 29-year-old 2010 first-round pick looks to now be destined for his fifth NHL team in just 11 seasons. Not a good look.
For now, the big question is not really where will he go, but who can actually afford him? According to CapFriendly, the upcoming unrestricted free agent has got a remaining cap hit of $2,206,897 (as of April 7) in 2021 — but, there’s a whole bunch of teams that have zero wiggle room.
There’s also the rumored asking price to consider: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported back on March 26 it involves a first-round pick. Plus, Hall does have a no-move clause but it’s doubtful he’ll use it in this situation as things in Buffalo have, obviously, not worked out.
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Either way, the basic tenet is: if a team really wants him, we’re sure they’ll follow Tim Gunn’s advice and, “Make it work.”
So, with that, here’s a few potential landing spots for one of the top guys available.
Taylor Hall trade rumors
New York Islanders
“We’re always trying to find a scoring winger,” GM Lou Lamoriello said during his midseason chat with reporters. “Everybody is. That’s not something that’s easy to do.”
Well, Lou, it may just be for you.
Entering Wednesday’s games, the New York squad is tied with the Capitals atop the East Division standings. They’ve done a better job this year of putting the biscuit in the basket with 2.95 goals for per game (fifth in the division); last year it was 2.78 (22nd in the league). But having a guy like Hall, especially after losing captain and top scorer Anders Lee to a season-ending knee injury, would be more than ideal for the Stanley Cup contenders.
Should also add that with Lee, who was tied with Brock Nelson for the team lead in goals (12) when he got injured, on long-term injury reserve the Isles do have that all-important wiggle room in regards to the salary cap.
There have been some rumblings that the Bruins are looking to upgrade their roster and Hall may be the fit; after all, he was reportedly on their radar back in October before he joined the Sabres.
Currently, the Boys from Beantown sit in the last playoff spot in the East with a number of teams within striking distance. And they surely need some offensive juice. The Bruins have just a plus-11 goal differential, which is the lowest among the top five teams in the division, and have potted a measly 99 goals (not the worst). Mind you, this is a team that notched 227 in 70 games last season. Basically, they were on pace for 267 in 2019-20 if it went a full 82 games and are looking at 226 this year. That’s a 40-plus goal drop. Yikes.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs may not have had the room to sign him this past offseason, but Toronto is surely appealing to the forward. He spends his summer breaks in the area and did sign as close as possible to where his parents live in Ontario without crossing the border. (Note: back when he signed there was no way of knowing the border would still be closed today.) Joining the Leafs may just be the best thing for Hall long-term as he’ll be looking for a new deal come this offseason.
As for the Leafs, GM Kyle Dubas has repeatedly said that Toronto’s store is wide open.
“It’s no secret that we are going to be a team that is going to be looking to acquire players at the deadline,” he told TSN’s James Duthie recently. He added that his team is flexible with whether their trade partner is looking for picks, prospects or roster players. In the next three drafts, the Leafs still have all their picks but two (2021 third- and seventh-round picks) and the team does have some high-end prospects like Rasmus Sandin, Nick Robertson, Timothy Liljegren, Filip Hallander and 2021 IIHF World Junior standouts for Finland, Roni Hirvonen and Topi Niemela.
This one hasn’t been thrown out too much but it may just make the most sense — but only if Hall is signed long-term.
Since his return to the Saddledome, head coach Darryl Sutter has repeatedly said that the Flames roster does not have enough firepower to compete. When Hall is healthy and doing his thing, he’s scoring; however, he may not entirely fit the Sutter mold as his defensive game needs some sparking, but he can definitely bury the puck at the other end. Which, by the way, is something that Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan have struggled to do this season. Could one of these guys finally be on the move after years of speculation? Sutter has called them both out on more than one occasion for their lackluster play and there’s a sense their days in Alberta are now truly numbered.
While some have said that the big changes will probably come in the summer, the fact that Sutter’s struggles are only heightening issues with the roster construct, GM Brad Treliving may feel the pressure to make a move now. Why? He may not be around for the summer overhaul.
As for the Sabres end of things, Calgary has draft picks. They also have reportedly put David Rittich on the trade block, and when you consider Buffalo hasn’t had a top goalie since Ryan Miller, he could be a nice addition between the pipes in Buffalo.
And why would this move pique the interest of Hall considering the Flames season is all but done too? He’s a Calgary native and he may be enticed to play for the team he grew up cheering for more than a few weeks.