We are at the fever point of the Taylor Hall trade rumors and having the dynamic left winger pulled out of games by the New Jersey Devils makes it pretty obvious where things are going. Now we wait to find out which team wins the Hall sweepstakes.
But what will the return be for Hall? In all likelihood, it’s going to be a package that includes a prospect, so let’s take a look at who some of the possibilities are and what they bring to the table. Perhaps most importantly, all these kids are relatively close to being NHL-ready – something the Devils no doubt will be looking for since this franchise needs to get back on track very soon.
The Coyotes are seen as the front-runner right now and the name mentioned by Elliotte Friedman is Kevin Bahl. A mammoth defenseman who comes in at 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, Bahl is currently with Team Canada, preparing for the world juniors. His day job is in the OHL with the Ottawa 67’s, where Bahl has been a key member of a high-end team that went to the league final last season and has designs on winning it all this year. Bahl obviously has great reach and defensive prowess, but he moves pretty well for a big guy, too. He probably won’t put up a ton of points at the NHL level, but he does have 20 in 28 games for the 67’s right now.
There are a couple options for the Panthers and I would say that circumstance muddies the waters a bit. For instance, center Henrik Borgstrom is a marquee name, but he has been struggling at the AHL level with Springfield – even though he spent the majority of last season in the NHL. The top player with the Thunderbirds right now is Owen Tippett, the rookie pro who, like Hall, plays on the wing. Tippett plays the right side instead of the left, but he also has great speed and a great shot. Now, would the Panthers be willing to sacrifice one of their hottest prospects in order to get the short-term boost that Hall would bring to their NHL lineup? It kinda feels like a playoffs-or-bust campaign for the Cats, so maybe they would. Tippett is still learning how to be more consistent in his game, so he’s not a finished product – but there is a load of potential there.
The Avs are a bit spoiled right now because their prospect pool is in great shape and they could swing a Hall deal without putting too much of a dent in their future. The obvious target in this scenario is defenseman Conor Timmins, who has bounced back from serious concussion-related time off to be a solid contributor to the AHL’s Colorado Eagles this season. A smart player with great two-way ability who shoots right, Timmins would be a coveted commodity for anyone, but the Avs could move him because they already have Cale Makar on track to win the Calder Trophy and Bowen Byram coming up fast from the 2019 draft class.
St. Louis Blues
It’s very tempting to offer up defenseman Scott Perunovich in a potential Blues-Devils swap, but there’s a significant fly in the ointment here: as a college player, Perunovich is unsigned and the University of Minnesota-Duluth star could ultimately choose unrestricted free agency once he leaves the Bulldogs. So yes, Perunovich would bring excellent mobility and offense to the New Jersey back end, but let’s go a bit safer and choose Klim Kostin instead. The Russian power forward already has some NHL experience in St. Louis and his upside is pretty enticing. Most importantly, he’s under contract – so there’s no uncertainty there.
I’m not sure if the Bruins can make a Hall deal work in terms of salary cap, but if they do, I’m asking for Jack Studnicka in return. He’s a heart-and-soul center who has put up nearly a point-per-game for the AHL’s Providence Bruins and earned a call-up to the big squad. Another great fit would have been goaltender Jeremy Swayman, but like Perunovich he’s an NCAA kid (University of Maine) and therefore unsigned.