New Jersey Devils’ GM Ray Shero has informed the league that he is actively listening to offers for elite winger Taylor Hall.
Before we start, I know exactly what you’re thinking. ‘But, Matt, we don’t have the cap space to fit him!’, you think to yourself as you get your typing fingers ready to roast me on Twitter. That is absolutely true. The Carolina Hurricanes are very short on cap space, especially if we are looking at acquiring someone like Taylor Hall. This is gonna be a long one, so stick with me.
As of the writing of this article, Taylor Hall currently has 4 goals and 18 assists, for a combined point total of 22 in 27 games played. Imagine what his production could be when paired with any of the Carolina Hurricanes’ top lines.
Hall’s current contract expires after this season, and carries a cap hit of $6M. Very, very tough to make that fit into a roster where the Carolina Hurricanes currently have $1.6M or so in cap space. There are a few scenarios in which Hall could be made to fit, so let’s take a look at a few of them.
Before we get into this, I need to address something that I’ve noticed, especially on Twitter. This is directed at no single person, just a generalized observation. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having favorite players on a team, and wishing that they’d stay with your favorite team for an extended period of time. I fully understand; we’ve got a lovable bunch of jerks on our hands, and it’d be a shame to see any of them go.
That being said, nobody should take simple trade speculation as ‘hate’ against a certain player (unless the speculator has some type of personal vendetta against a player. But, I digress).
Hockey is (for lack of a better word) a business, and teams need to produce; retaining the services of certain players who aren’t performing to their potential, or to at least their cap value is not a recipe for success in any organization. The same can be said for players that are unlikely to re-sign after their current contract is up.
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Please, if you take nothing else away from this article, take this away: I am not advocating that any given player mentioned in this article ‘doesn’t belong’ on the Hurricanes’ roster, or that they ‘aren’t good enough’ to play here. Each player brings their own contribution, and are obviously talented in their own way. None of what I say is intended to be ‘hate’ against a player or their individual skills.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s start with a few different trade scenarios that could see Taylor Hall shipped to Raleigh.
The return that New Jersey should be expecting for Taylor Hall should be immense. I’m talking a solid player or two, and even a higher-round pick or two. It will not be a one-for-one trade if Hall does, indeed, become a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Don Waddell is a verified trade wizard, but no amount of wizardry could bring Ray Shero to let Hall go on a one-for-one deal involving anyone the Hurricanes would be willing to part with.
The first trade scenario that I believe could happen would see one of Trevor van Riemsdyk or Haydn Fleury shipped to New Jersey, along with one of Brock McGinn or Warren Foegele (and a pick or three) in exchange for Taylor Hall. A ‘top-end’ prospect may be required as well, but more on that later.
Now, before you get those roasting fingers ready, hear me out. Moving van Riemsdyk and McGinn, coupled with the Carolina Hurricanes’ current cap space as of right now would give them exactly $6M. $6M just so happens to be Hall’s exact cap hit, but this would put the Hurricanes right at the cap ceiling, and could cause problems if players need to be sent down/called up due to injuries and whatnot.
Obviously, McGinn and van Riemsdyk would not be enough to entice Shero to send Hall to Raleigh, but the Carolina Hurricanes are flush with draft picks. Toronto’s conditional 1st round pick that was traded to the Hurricanes in the Patrick Marleau deal could prove to be pivotal in this scenario.
This pick is looking to be close to 11th-15th overall or so in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft (if Toronto stays their current course, or improves slightly), and Hall may not even re-sign after his contract is up. Given how deep the 2020 NHL Entry Draft is projected to be, this could prove to be quite the acquisition for the New Jersey Devils.
There are quite a bit of unknown variables at play, but they could prove to pay off for the Carolina Hurricanes in the long run, especially if Hall re-signs with the Canes. Even then, the conditional 1st would likely not be enough.
The Canes would potentially have to ship off the aforementioned first round pick, and a second round pick on top of McGinn and van Riemsdyk for it to even come close to making sense for New Jersey. Even then, a few more later-round picks would be warranted, if not another 2nd rounder. High risk, high reward.
Conversely, moving players like Fleury and Foegele would require salary retention for Hall on New Jersey’s part, which, at over $7M in cap space, they definitely have cap room to accomodate for. This would mean several picks on top of the conditional 1st from Toronto would be packaged in with Foegele and Fleury in order to reach the value of Hall at any type of discount.
In my opinion, moving van Riemsdyk and McGinn makes the most sense, and giving up a conditional 1st round pick (alongside whichever other picks New Jersey asks for within reason) wouldn’t be such a high price to pay to bring Hall on board, and to even have a bit of his salary retained to give the Carolina Hurricanes a bit more wiggle room in the event of injuries.
Trevor van Riemsdyk will more than likely not re-sign after his contract is up this season due to the amount of up-and-coming defensemen the Canes have waiting in the wings that are all but ready to break into the NHL, and replacing McGinn with Hall would give the Hurricanes that extra offensive punch that they need, even if it means losing a bit of sandpaper in the process.
On the other side of the coin, the New Jersey Devils have also reportedly mentioned that they want to obtain a ‘top-end prospect’ in exchange for Hall, so given that Brock McGinn, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Toronto’s conditional 1st round pick, and possibly another few 2nd/3rd round picks would be packaged, the Canes might be able to get away with just those pieces.
If I’m Ray Shero, however, I’d be pushing to acquire someone like Eetu Luostarinen, Julien Gauthier, Janne Kuokkanen, or Jake Bean. Any of those four players would do well with the Devils, but giving up one of those up-and-coming prospects could prove to be too high an ask for the Canes to acquiesce.
If Hall doesn’t re-sign in Carolina, the Canes would’ve given up quite a bit for a rental, and would effectively be fleeced in this scenario. If Hall does re-sign in Carolina, he could be potentially eating into Dougie Hamilton‘s next contract, or even Andrei Svechnikov‘s sure-to-be-monster contract after 2020-21. These are just a few of those unknown variables I mentioned.
The good news on the cap space outlook is that both the Marleau and Alexander Semin buyouts will be off the books by then, and Justin Faulk‘s retained salary will be gone as well. The cap is also projected to increase between now and then, so Hall’s future cap hit shouldn’t be seen as an issue quite yet.
Taylor Hall would seemingly fit right in to Rod Brind’amour‘s system, and would undoubtedly make a near-immediate impact if he were brought in to the Carolina Hurricanes’ Top-6 group.
I know many of you want to move Jake Gardiner for him, but I invite you to take a look back at the Calvin de Haan situation. (I am still incredibly salty about that trade. We miss you, Calvin.) Granted, de Haan made much more of an impact in hindsight, but if the Carolina Hurricanes were to do the same thing to Jake Gardiner, we’d have a tough time attracting free agents in the future.
Gardiner has also been incredibly unlucky and is wildly under-performing because of it. He (and Nino Niederreiter) will come around, and I’m sure around this time next year, we’ll be glad to have kept both of them.
It will be very interesting to see where Hall eventually ends up. He’s a fast, extremely talented playmaker who could be a huge asset in yet another push for the playoffs at a time when the Carolina Hurricanes need more offensive firepower. Hopefully the Don has at least thrown his hat in the ring, and has spoken with Shero about a potential scenario or two. It can’t hurt to at least have a discussion, right?
Question for CC Readers: Should the Carolina Hurricanes trade for Taylor Hall? If so, who and what should they move?