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Islanders and Taylor Hall trade: Pros and cons

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 30: Taylor Hall #9 of the New Jersey Devils stretches during warm ups before the game against the New York Rangers at Prudential Center on November 30, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 30: Taylor Hall #9 of the New Jersey Devils stretches during warm ups before the game against the New York Rangers at Prudential Center on November 30, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Does trading for New Jersey Devils Taylor Hall make sense for the New York Islanders. Here’s what you should think about before you come up with an answer to that question.

On Sunday, Pierre Lebrun tweeted that Devils GM Ray Shero is in listening mode for offers on Taylor Hall. The immediate reaction from New York Islanders faithful is, ‘make the trade’! But after closer inspection, does a deal for Taylor Hall make sense for the Islanders?

After all, the first overall pick from 2010 will be a UFA at the end of this season.

Unlike ‘he who shall not be named,’ Hall has given every indication he will not be returning to the Devils, even calling out New Jersey fans last month for their lack of support.

In theory, Hall fits the bill for the Islanders. He is an elite talent, plays with energy and drive, and can put the puck in the net. Hall is only two seasons removed from his Hart Trophy year, where he had a career-high in goals (39) and assists (54).

But decisions like these are full of unintended consequences.

Variables to Considers

Before Islander fans fully commit to this shiny new toy, we need to consider a variety of variables. We already know his stats. In 588 games played he has 532 points. He’s one of the better left-wings in the league.

Again, he won the Hart Trophy just two years ago. But what else should we consider when deciding if a trade is a good idea?

The Injury– Hall missed most of the 18-19 season with a knee injury that didn’t show on MRI and confused many doctors. It wasn’t until explorative surgery revealed tiny bone fragments were the cause of Hall’s debilitating pain. It was Hall’s second left knee surgery in three years, and both indicate a degenerative condition.

Hall’s explosiveness has been on display only intermittently this season. And his four goals to date are overshadowed by poor defensive play over the first 26 games.

The Contract– Hall will most certainly command top dollar in free agency, and that could mean as much as eight years at $12 million per. For the Islanders to make this deal, it would require sending comparable salary, as well as young talent, a conditional first-round pick (contingent on Hall signing).

Would the locker room disruption of moving a Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk (who have both been outstanding), sacrificing an Oliver Wahlstrom or Otto Koivula, and compromising a deep 2020 draft be worth it?

The Future- The Islanders must sign Mathew Barzal and preferably to a long term deal. At 22 years old, Islanders fans have to ask, would you instead commit eight years and $96 million to Hall or Barzal?

I think the answer is obvious to most.

Further, Islander fans covet a sniper to play on Barzal’s wing during that period. Will a 33-year-old Hall be able to keep up with a 27-year-old Barzal in the prime of his career? It’s unlikely.

The Verdict- For the long-term, Nikolaj Ehlers still makes more sense for this team. The Winnipeg Jets are very much in it despite a porous defense. Although I would hate to move one of our top six d-men but at 23 years old an RFA protected Ehlers (with Barzy) could light up Belmont for a long time.

As for Hall, the Isles can’t sacrifice this much for a rental. Especially one like Hall, who has played a total of five playoff games over his nine-year career.

Lou would require the conviction that Hall’s knee will allow him to continue over the term at an elite level. Hall would need to indicate that he’d be willing to sign.

And the Devils would have to live with the possibility of helping their area rival win a Cup.

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There is no doubt the second half of 2019-20 would be extra exciting for Islander fans with a healthy Taylor Hall on the first line.

I just don’t see it happening.

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