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Taylor Hall Will Make or Break the New Jersey Devils Season

After missing most of last season due to injury, New Jersey Devils star Taylor Hall comes into 2019-20 healthy and with a better supporting cast. Today we look at why he’s still the player who can make or break this season.

Columbus Blue Jackets v New Jersey Devils

33 games; out of a full season of 82, that’s all that New Jersey Devils star left wing Taylor Hall managed to appear in due to injuries. By the end of the campaign, he still ranked 5th on the team in total points with 37. I think we all know how important Hall has been to the Devils since coming over from Edmonton, but let that sink in for a minute.

37 points in 33 games...

From a player who didn’t play a game in the 2019 calendar year...

Still good enough for 5th best on the team...

Now obviously there was a slew of other injuries which may have affected some point totals, but nevertheless Hall still wound up finishing high up on the team’s point totals. Yes, the Devils have made some additions; yes, there’s a good chance that the team won’t deal with as many integral injuries. But if anyone thinks Hall isn’t going to make or break this season, one way or another, I would say they haven’t been watching him...somehow...

Taylor Hall is one of the most dynamic scoring wings in the NHL, and the Devils sorely missed his presence after he went down with injury. A player of his caliber being out makes it easier for opposing teams to shut down the remaining players who are performing, and to “pick on” lesser lines. Hall started off last season picking right up from the Hart Trophy-winning one prior, earning over a point per game. Prior to his injury, he was head and shoulders above the rest of the team in scoring, yet it wasn’t enough as Jersey’s Team struggled all of last season, even prior to Hall being shutdown for the season.

He’s coming in healthy and the team is coming in reloaded; we all know of the moves that the Devils made this offseason along with some previously drafted players who will be pushing for roster spots this season. Hall wants to win, and realistically his best chance to do so up until this point in his career is, in my opinion, this upcoming season. The Devils qualified for the playoffs two seasons ago, and haven’t subtracted anyone of consequence since that point really; they arguably have the most talented roster since the 2011-12 season coming in as well, which even in an ever more competitive Metropolitan Division should give them a fighting chance.

But Hall is still the driving force; his success or lack there of will determine whether the Devils make noise this season, or if they start booking tee times toward the end of March. We’ve seen both what the team can do with him, and what they can (or can’t) do without him. We know there are a lot of supporting characters, many of them new, and that a bounce back season for the team also hinges on the goaltending, but to win games you have to score. Hall is good at both putting the puck in the net and helping his teammates to bury the biscuit; having more talent surrounding him should give him greater freedom to do both of those with consistency.

With just this upcoming season remaining on his contract, some talks have swirled about trading Hall now or before the deadline; either way, I’m not a proponent of that. Right now, he’s simply too important to the Devils to lose him; the absolute only way he’s traded is if the Devils are out of contention at the deadline and he’s made it clear he will not re-sign with the team. While Nico Hischier or Jack Hughes may take over as the most important player on the Devils in the next few years (with or without Hall on the roster) that time is not now; Hall stays this season (again with only the one previously stated exception) and the Devils ship will go where he steers it.

The Devils need Taylor Hall to have a healthy, productive season; the moves this summer were made in hopes of restoring the team to its former glory, and at least the P.K. Subban trade was okayed with Hall prior to completion. Ray Shero has demonstrated to Hall that he was serious about the team being competitive again; the time to be competitive is now.

Do you believe Hall to still be the engine of this Devils’ team or not? Are you expecting a big season from him and/or the team? Are you on the “Trade Taylor Hall” train? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!