It’s only December and we might have already seen the biggest rental splash of the season.
The Arizona Coyotes sent a first-round draft pick, a conditional draft pick, and three prospects to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall. It had widely been known that Hall was on his way out of New Jersey as the Devils’ season flopped and general manager Ray Shero was skeptical the team would be able to sign him long-term. Ultimately, it was the Coyotes who won the sweepstakes well before trade deadline season even began.
TRADE details per @ArizonaCoyotes
– Taylor Hall (LW)
– Blake Speers (C)
– Nick Merkley (RW)
– Nate Schnarr (C)
– Kevin Bahl (D)
– 2020 conditional 1st Rd. Pick
– 2021 conditional 3rd Rd. Pick
— Daily Faceoff (@DailyFaceoff) December 16, 2019
The Coyotes, who are currently sitting with a one-point lead in the Pacific Division, are clearly very serious about making the playoffs this spring. It’s been a long time since there was playoff hockey in the desert and with a new ownership group at the helm, general manager John Chayka has gone all-in. He acquired Phil Kessel and Carl Soderberg in the off-season and doubled down by acquiring Hall to boost the team’s below-average offence.
This addition more than likely makes Arizona the team to beat in the Pacific. They’re already sitting in first, but that’s almost entirely because of their ability to keep the puck out of the net. Arizona has allowed the third-fewest goals in the league so far this season, and adding Hall to the equation will give them a strong offence to go along with it.
Why does this matter? This isn’t Coyotes Army, right? Deals like this directly affect the Canucks’ playoff hopes this spring.
Arizona currently sits in first and they just got a lot better. Right behind them is Vegas and Calgary, two teams who got off to slower-than-expected starts who, on paper, are playoff teams. Also in the mix are the Oilers, who are still in a playoff spot despite their losing streak, and the Sharks, who have the talent on their roster to turn their season around at any moment. The Canucks are sitting four points out of a playoff spot in an already-competitive division that isn’t getting any easier.
Jim Benning to chose to dive-in this off-season by signing Tyler Myers, Micheal Ferland, and Jordie Benn and by trading for J.T. Miller. It seems there’s likely going to be more work to do before the trade deadline in order to make the Canucks a playoff team. But given the salary cap situation the team is in, it won’t be easy.
On a more positive note, the fact that Hall commanded such a light return is a good sign for teams like Vancouver who might need to make an addition prior to the deadline. Hall, a former MVP winner and easily the best rental on the market, netted New Jersey a first-round pick (and possibly another one if he signs and the team wins a playoff round) and three good-not-great prospects. If that’s what it costs to acquire a player as good as Hall, there’s no excuse not to go after other rentals out there, right?