No doubt, until the moment he either signs with the New Jersey Devils or is traded prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, trade speculation will continue as it pertains to Taylor Hall’s future. At that point, discussion will move to whether or not Hall is a temporary addition to a playoff contender or a long-term fit on a team that needs one of the best left wings in hockey. For Hall — a pending unrestricted free agent — such is the reality of his situation as a player primed to hit the jackpot in the summer.
That said, Darren Dreger of TSN writes that today, things are near-silent on the trade front when it comes to Hall. The New Jersey Devils are still a team struggling to meet the expectations the organization had set for itself this season. While the hope was additions they made this past off-season would pay dividends, sustained success isn’t coming and chances for the playoffs seem to be disappearing. As such, speculation is that Hall will eventually be moved.
But, who will grab him?
The latest buzz in the rumor mill circles around the Montreal Canadiens.
Dreger noted he believes the Canadiens are a team to watch when it comes to Hall and cites specifically the desire Hall has to play where hockey matters, in a city that has a passion for the game like Habs fans do. And, to that end, Hall does have some experience playing in a hockey-mad market considering he spent many of his NHL year’s in Edmonton.
Dreger said, “I don’t understand why they wouldn’t have interest and I’m not so sure, that given the opportunity, Taylor Hall wouldn’t sign in with the Montreal Canadiens.” Dreger didn’t seem to have first-hand knowledge that the Canadiens had kicked tires on Hall, more that this was speculation by the NHL insider that the Canadiens and Hall might make a good fit.
And, when you consider recent rumblings the Canadiens might be looking to move some big salaries, there would be plenty of room.
Dreger adds that while some players might buckle under the pressure of playing in a city like Montreal, Hall seems like he’d be one of the few players who would relish the opportunity. Dreger compared Hall to a player like John Tavares.
Tavares had an opportunity to stay with the New York Islanders and be a saviour in that market, but also remain on the down low, away from the bright lights of scrutiny. Instead, he chose (over a number of teams) to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, where hockey is dissected more than anywhere else. Not only did Tavares pick Toronto, but he did so because he loves the passion that market has for the game. Dreger believes Hall comes from the same mould.
Adding Hall Would Be a Gamble
Montreal has more than enough money to fit Hall in but the question right now is whether or not the Canadiens are a playoff team? If they aren’t, there’s no reason to add Hall unless the Canadiens can ship out unwanted salary or they know Hall will extend in the summer or before. And, that’s a pretty big if.
It would suit Hall best to test the market. While Dreger suggests the Canadiens might see the leftwinger as a nice solution for their offence, they won’t be the only team.