What’s a realistic return for Taylor Hall at the trade deadline?
When was the last time a Hart Trophy winner was available as a trade-deadline rental? We could technically say Jaromir Jagr in 2015, but he was 43, and Martin St-Louis was 38 when he got dealt. Even Peter Forsberg was 33 and no longer at the peak of his powers when traded in 2007. There’s almost no precedent for what Hall could be at the 2020 deadline: a 28-year-old star in the cap era, still close to his peak years, less than two years removed from winning the MVP, available as a rental piece for a contending team. Despite his early-season struggles with the Devils this season, he’d still be an extremely impactful first-line addition on almost any roster.
We can thus expect Devils GM Ray Shero to demand an astronomical price for Hall. The 2019 trade deadline had some top-end forwards available to rent, so we can use them as a reasonable and recent baseline to generate a Hall scenario.
Mark Stone netted Ottawa a truly A-plus prospect in defenseman Erik Brannstrom, a warm body in Oscar Lindberg and a 2020 second-round pick. Matt Duchene brought in prospects Vitaly Abramov, Jonathan Davidsson, a 2019 first-round pick and a 2020 first-rounder conditional on Duchene re-signing with Columbus, which he didn’t.
I love Stone as much as the next person does but, with all due respect to him and Duchene, neither of them has a Hart Trophy. So I think Stone would be the floor for a Hall trade. Think first-round pick and elite-level prospect at minimum, plus maybe another decent depth prospect.
As an example: I was asked this week about the Carolina Hurricanes’ chances of getting Hall. If we follow the Stone/Duchene trade model, Hall would cost something like Dominik Bokk, Jake Bean and Carolina’s 2020 first-round selection.
If the Hall negotiations appear to be heading south, the Devils will be virtually guaranteed a delectable pile of foundational players and/or picks in any trade for him. That’s why, as a Devils fan, you want the team to be great or terrible but nowhere in between this season. The worst-case scenario would be the team hanging around the playoff bubble, retaining Hall as an “in-house” rental, missing the playoffs or losing quickly in the playoffs, then losing Hall as a UFA. That’s what happened to Columbus with its top UFAs last spring.
So the Devils having the fewest points in the NHL as of today isn’t the worst news. It’s nice and definitive. It could make future decisions easier for Hall and Shero.