When Taylor Hall signed as a free agent in Buffalo this offseason, it was supposed to mark the start of a turnaround for the franchise. Unfortunately however, it feels like they took a step even further back. While they were able to snap out of their 18-game losing skid, they sit an unfathomable 22 points back of the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot in the East Division.
As a result of the struggles, general manager Kevyn Adams has already started selling, most recently trading Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens. While they have multiple other assets who could be moved, the one everyone is talking about is Hall.
The 29-year-old has an impressive resume. He was selected first overall in 2010. He has nearly 600 career points in 664 games played. He even has a Hart Trophy to his name, winning the award after the 2017-18 season in which he had 39 goals and 93 points in 76 games. Non-surprisingly, given his past accolades, the Sabres are reportedly seeking a first-rounder in regards to trading him. While he certainly has had an impressive individual career to this point however, teams would be wise not to pay that price.
Lack of Playoff Experience
From little to no fault of his own, Hall has almost no NHL playoff experience, having played in the playoffs just two times in eleven seasons. In fact, last season his Arizona Coyotes would more than likely not have qualified for the postseason had the NHL not expanded it to 24 teams. Thankfully for Hall, they were able to get in thanks to that, and he was able to up his career playoff game total from five to 14.
Evidently, Hall has played on some bad teams throughout his career, perhaps the worst of all being this years Sabres roster. As previously mentioned, the losing isn’t his fault, at least not completely, but the lack of winning experience should be concerning for any general managers looking to bring him in for a deep playoff run.
Decline in Numbers
While Hall’s lack of playoff experience is one concern, an even bigger one are his numbers as of late. In 37 games this season, he has just two goals and 19 points. Of course, that small sample size could be blamed more on the Sabres lack of success more than anything else, however this isn’t the first off year he has had.
Last season, before being traded from the New Jersey Devils to the Coyotes, he had 25 points in 30 games, but just six were goals. In Arizona, he had 10 goals and 27 points in 35 games, giving him a total of 16 goals and 52 points in 65 games.
Those totals aren’t bad by any means, but are not what he had been capable of in the past. It raises the question on whether or not he has just had two off years in a row, or is not the player he once was.
Will Adams Cave?
Clearly, a first-round pick is a steep price for teams to pay, which is likely the reason why a Hall trade has not yet happened. Most teams are likely playing hard ball and hoping that Adams drops his asking price, however that may not happen.
Appearing on the 31 Thoughts podcast, Chris Johnston brought up that Adams may choose to hold onto Hall if he does not have a good enough offer, saying that because he is a rookie general manager he may not want to be known as the guy who traded Hall for a third-round pick. Johnston was not suggesting that a third-round pick is the best offer he has, but making a general statement as to why he may not want to make a move.
My personal thought is that Adams should move him for whatever he can. He still has six days remaining until the deadline, so holding off for now makes sense, but at the end of the day, it’s better to get something for him than see him walk as a free agent this summer. Considering the points listed above regarding Hall, getting a first-rounder may be extremely tough.
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