The Arizona Coyotes are approaching the point where they would be negligent if they didn’t at least entertain offers for star forward Taylor Hall.
Back in December, the Arizona Coyotes shocked the NHL by making an aggressive move. They outbid the Colorado Avalanche, among other teams, to acquire then-New Jersey Devils forward (and 2017-18 Hart Trophy winner) Taylor Hall. At the time, it was a move the Coyotes hoped would propel them to a deep postseason run and help them pull away from a mediocre Pacific Division.
However, that has not been the case. When the Coyotes acquired Hall on Dec. 16, they had the 10th-best point percentage in the NHL and the best one in the Pacific Division. They had a 19-12-4 record. Since then, they’ve gone 9-11-4.
And let’s be clear, their poor record isn’t Hall’s fault. Before acquiring him, the Coyotes had the second-highest 5v5 save percentage in the NHL, which helped them offset a 7.0% 5v5 shooting percentage, one of the lowest marks in the league. Their shooting percentage and inability to create and finish chances is the whole reason why they traded for Hall.
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Since acquiring Hall, the Coyotes have an 8.1% shooting percentage at 5v5. When Hall’s on the ice, that jumps to 8.94%, the third-highest mark among Coyotes forwards (min. 300 5v5 minutes). So why have the Yotes been bad? Well, their 5v5 save percentage dropped from 94.1% pre-Hall to 91.1% without him. Obviously, losing Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta to injuries hasn’t helped there.
He has 20 points in 24 games on a team that struggled immensely to score goals before the trade (and still does, though not nearly as much as before). The Coyotes still have problems, but Hall is not one of them.
All of this leads to an interesting question – as crazy as it sounds, should the Coyotes consider trading him?
WHY THE ARIZONA COYOTES SHOULD CONSIDER TRADING HALL
First of all, let’s remember the Coyotes didn’t give up much at all for him. The 2020 first-round pick is, by far, the most valuable thing they surrendered in the deal. So if things don’t improve quickly for them, why shouldn’t they at least see what kind of package they could get for him?
History shows the Coyotes should expect to get a first-round pick back for him (though it will likely be conditional). But they’ll also probably get back at least one good (or perhaps even very good) prospect. Hall’s the kind of player who can dominate as few can. There’s a reason a lot of teams wanted him before he was traded to the Coyotes.
Also, let’s suppose the Coyotes don’t trade Hall. What if they don’t make the playoffs? They would have given up a first-round pick and a decent prospect for zero playoff games. That would be very painful for a team with a deck that’s already not complete.
The Coyotes have a good team. They nearly made the postseason last year despite having numerous injuries. Heck, they’ve had bad injuries this year and they’re still fighting for a playoff spot, albeit in a mediocre division. If the Coyotes aren’t in a playoff spot by a few days before the deadline, it would be wise for them to at least listen to offers for Hall.
WHY THEY SHOULDN’T
That said, it makes sense for them to hang onto him too. They gave up a lot for Hall. Why not stick with him? And as I said, the Pacific Division is pretty darn mediocre. The Coyotes still have a good chance of making the postseason.
As of Feb. 13, the Coyotes are the second wild card team in the Western Conference with 64 points. The difference between the Coyotes and the Edmonton Oilers (who won’t have the best player in the world until late February at the earliest) is two points.
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Either way, I get what the Coyotes are doing. They face a really tough decision with Hall and there might not be a right answer – just one that’s merely a little less wrong than the other.