New Jersey Devils: Dissecting Taylor Hall’s Possible Scenarios

(Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images) /

There are a lot of storylines heading into this New Jersey Devils season, none bigger than Taylor Hall’s contract year.

This is a huge season for the New Jersey Devils, and it’s a particularly big year for one of their most important pieces; Taylor Hall. On July 1, 2020, Hall’s six-year, $36 million contract expires and he’s due for a huge raise.

The big question is, are the Devils going to pay him that money and lock him down for the next eight years? This is something that will loom like a dark cloud over the Devils all season, assuming Hall doesn’t agree to a contract extension before camp begins.

There are three possibilities with the Taylor Hall situation, and obviously Ray Shero will do what he thinks is best for the organization’s future. While immediate success is important for the fan base and the veteran players, the most critical goal is building a true Stanley Cup contender.

First and foremost, Hall can re-sign with New Jersey. This is pretty straightforward. He has mentioned on numerous occasions that he enjoys living in the area. While he embraces wearing the Devils red and black, his biggest desire is to win a Stanley Cup.

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Thus, he will re-sign with the Devils if he basically feels there is an eight-year window in which the Devils can compete and win a championship. Hall is going into his 10th season, and he’s only qualified for the playoffs once. As we all know, that 2017-18 playoff run was exciting but short-lived.

With that being said, the contract also has to work for the Devils. Artemi Panarin just signed with the New York Rangers at seven years, $81.5 million ($11.6 million per year). This is a relatively accurate benchmark for Hall, although we can all probably agree that Hall is the superior player.

Do we really want the Devils to make that type of financial commitment to Hall—an elite player but one who has dealt with a fair share of injuries? After three or four years at an $11.6M annual value, that Panarin contract is going to be rough for the Rangers. The same can be said for the now 27-year-old Hall when he passes through his prime midway through a new contract.

Shero will be smart with his number. It’s hard to imagine him giving Hall more than what Panarin will be making. Can we snag Hall at a slight hometown discount in the $10.5M range? With an eight-year contract, Hall would be taking home less per year than Panarin, but more money when it’s all said and done. I’d sign up for this type of scenario 10 times out of 10.

With a contract extension, I’m sure Hall would also be named the new captain and be all but guaranteed his jersey would hang in the Prudential Center rafters one day.

The next scenario is that Hall is traded before or at the 2020 trade deadline.

Picture this: it’s late February and the Devils sit in third in the Metropolitan Division. They seem to be making a clear run to the playoffs. Hall is having another point-per-game caliber season, but he has yet to make any commitment to signing with New Jersey.

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What does Shero do here? Does he let the regular season and playoffs play out with the hope that the success convinces Hall to stay come July 1? I would hope that in this situation, Shero sits down with Hall and gives him an ultimatum: sign with us by this date or we’re trading you. If Hall is traded at the deadline for a reasonable haul (no pun intended), that’s not a terrible scenario.

If Hall returns to his MVP form, one would have to think a trade would garner a team’s top prospect, a 1st-round pick in 2020, and a decent roster player. While losing Hall would put a playoff run in jeopardy, a trade would be extremely helpful for the future of the franchise.

Last but not least, the disaster could happen. Our beloved Taylor Hall, the 2018 Hart Memorial Trophy winner, an elite NHL forward, could go to unrestricted free agency. Hall could do to us what John Tavares just did to the New York Islanders.

This is obviously the worst case scenario because the Devils would lose Hall for nothing. If he goes to UFA, a cap-friendly team would absolutely give him the kind of dough he’s asking for. Would he move to a Cup-contending Calgary team, his hometown team? Would he look for a big-market organization that has success brewing? We cringe at all of these possibilities.

Let’s hope that Hall meant it when he said he loves being a New Jersey Devil, but let’s also hope that Shero will be the wise general manager he’s proven to be. Either way, Devils fans can expect Hall, if healthy, to have a monster 2019-20 campaign. When this level of money is on the line, players rise to the occasion.