Oh no, we’re back to THIS discussion again; New Jersey Devils star winger Taylor Hall is set to see his contract expire at the end of this season, with unrestricted free agency looming on July 1st. Devils fans have to be torn; Hall is one of the most talented players to put on a Devils sweater in at least the last decade, and could be one of the most explosive offensive talents that the team has ever had. On the other hand, we Devils fans have seen too many players walk away from our franchise for nothing, and the fear of it happening again is ever present. So what should the team do?
Well, this week has sent Devils fans careening on a roller coaster ride, with the number of different pieces of news that were published. Darren Dreger of TSN reported on Insider Trading that Hall’s agent had met with Ray Shero and there was some movement toward a new contract. NorthJersey.com published this piece with Hall himself disputing these rumors, and claiming the discussions to just be an initial meeting with no numbers on the table. However, we would have yet another chunk come from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman in his 31 Thoughts piece, which simply said:
5. I think the Devils and Taylor Hall are underselling this a bit. They are trying to make a serious run at an extension.
I don’t know about any of you reading this, but that’s way too much “Will he or won’t he?” for me for one day! You would think it best to trust what Hall himself is saying, but seeing as how Shero’s regime has been very quiet in the past about signings and deals, and Friedman saying Hall was underselling as well, it lets that thought seep into your mind as to if he will re-sign sooner rather than later.
In his favor are his statistics: Hall has been over a point per game for his last season and a half with the Devils, and we have seen firsthand just how adversely affected the team has been when he is out of the lineup. He drives play in the right direction, is a legitimate Top-6 Forward, if not Elite Forward, and again just makes the Devils a better all-around team when he is in the lineup.
Working against Hall is his injury from last season; I’m not going to over-exaggerate this and call him injury prone, as he prior to this past season, he appeared in 82, 72, and 76 games the three seasons before, but the injury costing him over half of last season is still worth discussing. Since going down last season, Hall has only made the one preseason appearance (with a second expected tomorrow night) which was a good test for his knee, but not exactly the wear and tear of the NHL season. The concern of him bouncing back has to be there both for the team and for Hall’s desire to have one more large lucrative payday in his career.
Now we also have something working in the team’s favor and in Hall’s favor and the best way to term that is his budding bro-mances with Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes and even P.K. Subban, though apparently that was has been around for a while. There’s the famous Hischier/Hall picture from the Devils making their run to the playoffs two seasons ago, and also Hall and Subban’s Twitter banter shortly after the latter’s trade to New Jersey. Hall and Hughes’ pairing might be good reason to hope the former sticks around; Hall specifically asked for Hughes’ locker stall to be next to his and while it may be a case of a veteran aiding a rookie, it could also be a sign that Hall wants to stick around with these talented youngsters (and P.K too - sorry P.K.) for a while.
The concern here still remains what to do with Hall if no extension is in place by the trade deadline; obviously, the results of the season until that point will play a big role in whether he is kept or dealt at said deadline. If Hall’s agent throws out a number that he would sign for, as long as it’s not a gross overpay, Ray Shero should jump and get Hall extended. Is there a chance an eight year deal looks ugly down the line? Sure, there’s always that risk, but Hall in his later years will probably still provide decent value; even if he doesn’t, you have to spend in today’s NHL to get, and Hall is worth spending on. He’s the most talented player currently on this team, and keeping him in the fold would push the Devils even closer to a true window of contention.
Personally, I don’t want to see another talented winger walk away from this team, either to go home or to “retire” from the league. If Friedman is right, and a possible extension is being undersold, then I hope everyone involved doesn’t wait much longer; preseason ends Friday, regular season starts exactly one week later, which means there’s plenty of time to hammer out a new deal. Get it done Ray!
What are your thoughts on all of this week’s Taylor Hall contract news? Do you think the truth lies with what Hall is saying or do you think he’s being conservative with his words? Could you see an extension being done prior to the start of this season? Will the bro-mances sway Hall back? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!