The talk of the town is Taylor Hall. Avalanche fans have been frothing at the mouth since Pierre LeBrun broke that the Devils are starting to listen to offers on their star winger.
The news was later perpetuated — and in a way validated — when LeBrun posted an article on The Athletic about the Devils’ best options for moving Hall, to which he implied the Avalanche likely have the best chance, and assets, to make that type of blockbuster move.
So, it begs the question — which many of you asked in this week’s mailbag:
Who/what do you think the Avs would trade for Hall?— Jenika E. (@icemyeyes) December 1, 2019
Take a shot at hall at what expense though?— John Spina (@JohnSpina2) December 2, 2019
It would be an expensive trade, no doubt about that. The asking price would likely command something like a roster player, a prospect, a first-round pick in this year’s draft and possibly even another conditional pick in a following draft, a la the Mark Stone or Matt Duchene trades.
The Armchair GMs on my Twitter offered their best deals:
Timmons and Kaut and 3rd rounder conditional on Hall signing at lest a 3 year bridge deal.— Michael Feltes (@fca4life) December 3, 2019
Hmm. Not bad, but they’d want more. I don't think there’d be any desire for Martin Kaut in New Jersey. I think Conor Timmins or Bowen Byram is probably the prospects Ray Shero is eyeing for the Devils. And again, a first-round pick is most certainly going to be included in this potential trade.
How about this?:
I agree as well when it comes to Byram and/or Timmins. No chance Sakic will bite. Now, maybe Newhook or a combo of Kaut/Bowers and a couple 1st round picks? I think adding Hall would be a good move if wasn't just a rental. Then it's not worth giving up prospects.— J. Canfield (@CreativeBoulder) December 3, 2019
This is closer. I don’t think Alex Newhook is on the table, nor would Shero be asking for him given how young he is, and likely still three-ish years away from competing for an NHL roster spot. I’d say if the Devils are eyeing one of Colorado’s forward prospects, it’d be Shane Bowers.
It seems many don’t want to see Timmins nor Byram as part of the package...
It’s not that we don’t need him, it’s that we shouldn’t give up what it would take. IE Byram or Timmins— Macktastic (@DangerJonez21) December 3, 2019
Any way to exclude Timmins and Byram and still get this done?— Aaron Sarfaty (@forseberg21) December 3, 2019
I wouldn’t do it if the offer hinges on any of Byram, Timmins, or two firsts— Jason Berlinberg (@jasonberlinberg) December 3, 2019
Unfortunately, to get a guy like Hall on your side, you’re going to have to give up some big pieces, i.e., Timmins.
I really don’t think Byram is on the table. He’s likely a non-starter for GM Sakic. He’d be more willing to give up Timmins, though I don’t think he’d like to. Here’s my guess as to what could be going back to New Jersey in this hypothetical trade situation:
Option 1: Tyson Jost, Conor Timmins and 2020 first-round pick.
Or, if Timmins is off the board:
Option 2: Tyson Jost, Shane Bowers, 2020 first-round pick AND a conditional 2021 third-rounder selection, with the condition hinging on Hall’s and Colorado’s performance (i.e., Hall plays in the playoffs and the Avalanche reach the Conference Final).
If you don’t give up Timmins, you’d have to give up two firsts, I think (see Option 2). Also, I think this deal doesn’t get done unless Hall agrees to an extension before the trade, a la Mark Stone to Vegas. No way Sakic gives all this up for a rental.
And for what it’s worth, I don’t want this to happen. While, obviously, adding a high-caliber player like Hall would immediately make the Avs a better team, I think this current squad already has what it takes. Just look at what Colorado was able to accomplish when the entire team was healthy. They were nearly unstoppable to start the season. Stay the course, don’t sell the farm and let’s ride.
I asked my followers if they think the Avs should make a deal for Taylor Hall, and the jury was pretty much split down the middle:
Ok. Let’s settle this...— Scott MacDonald (@0ffScottFree) December 3, 2019
Should the Avalanche trade for Taylor Hall?
Now I’ll ask the general masses here at MHH...
Should the Avalanche make a trade for Taylor Hall
This poll is closed
Enough about Taylor Hall, let’s move on
Hall SchmHall. Should the coaching staff continue to do what they’ve done the last couple of games and against the Sharks in the playoffs and make Z the bane of existence of the other teams top forward? Keep it simple and just shut them down, he seems to thrive in the role.— Jim (@JimCarlson1571) December 2, 2019
Yes. I think this is truly Nikita Zadorov’s strength. He’s a decent defenseman, but his main purpose on this team lies in his ability to menace and get inside the heads of his opponents and make their lives miserable.
He’s an OK, sub-50 percent Corsi — if you’re into that technical mumbo-jumbo — where you’d like percentage over 50, in a perfect world. He’s fifth on the team in giveaways, while he’s second-to-last among Avs defensemen (just ahead of Cale Makar) in blocked shots. His 66 hits lead the team and are nearly double the next Avalanche player.
So, yes, get your menace on Z. It’s his easily his greatest strength.
Forget about Hall. We have a great team. If you had to give Makar a contract extension today what would it be?— EastCoast Avs Fan (@eric_hervieux) December 2, 2019
While he does still have another year left on his entry-level contract, Makar has thrust himself into the contract negotiation conversation of being among the highest-paid NHL defenseman. And when he wins the Calder Trophy this season, that will certainly be more leverage for him and his agent, too.
Sakic will obviously wait until the end of next season to see if Makar can maintain this torrid pace before he opens the vault for young star defenseman. If he is able to maintain this production, I think we’re talking in the realm of $10 million-plus. Erik Karlsson owns the highest-paid contract in the NHL right now at $11.5 million per season, and while I don’t think Makar will receive that much, it’ll certainly put him in the conversation as top-five highest-paid NHL D-man.
To answer your question, I’d say he’s getting all eight years at $9.5-10 million per year.
And then with Landeskog and MacKinnon extensions impending — and no doubt both earning pay raises — Sakic has a lot of money coming off the books in the next few years. Maybe too much... This may become a handcuffing issue to follow in the coming seasons.
When Landy comes back does he rejoin the first line, or does Donskoi offer something different and stay there?— Brandon Friedel (@BFriedel19) December 2, 2019
Absolutely, Landy returns to his original spot on the top-line. I think he’s obviously more than earned that right, despite being out for some time. That three-headed monster top-line is damn-near impossible to stop, and having Donskoi, a pretty solid and serviceable interim top-liner, return to the second line is added wealth of depth.
While Donskoi has been establishing some chemistry with MacKinnon, and most recently Rantanen in his return, to the effect of 11 points in the last 10 games, the production you’d get from having your three-headed monster back speaks for itself — as it has in the past.
For what it’s worth, really anyone would be good on the top-line. You could put Nichushkin up there and he’d probably notch 20 goals, too. Let’s call it the “Nathan MacKinnon Effect.” Take for example, Joonas Donskoi. He had three goals and three assists before his promotion to the first line. Since then, he’s tallied eight goals and eight assists and is averaging a point-per-game in Landeskog’s stead.
But here’s a fun fact:
Donskoi and MacKinnon have been on the ice together for 103 scoring chances, 102 against.— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) December 2, 2019
Donskoi WITHOUT MacKinnon: on the ice for 58 scoring chances, 100 chances against.
Can’t believe DeBoer never figured out he needed to play Donskoi with maybe the best center in the NHL
Still, I think Landeskog gets his top-line role back.
And along the same line as the last question...
Mine is should Rattanan and McKinnon continue to play on the same line or should they be split like Salic & Forsberg? Prefer the super line, or maximize time one is on the ice?— George Snyder (@georoc01) December 1, 2019
And like that last question: No way.
Play to your strengths, right? For three seasons now, the line of Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen has been one of the NHL’s best line. I don’t see a need to shake things up.
When everyone was healthy, and the top two lines were intact, the Avalanche looked nearly unstoppable. Stay the course, I say.
What's the thinking behind who they're calling up on defense? Timmins made the team out of camp, but isn't a call-up with EJ out? Similarly, what kind of injuries would it take to get Shane Bowers called up? A little surprised a few guys are seemingly ahead of him.— Aaron Sarfaty (@forseberg21) December 3, 2019
As far as Timmins goes, I really think they’re starting to realize they rushed him a bit out of camp.
Last I spoke to the Colorado Eagles leadership they told me this of Conor:
“He’s a work in progress. Everybody gets excited that he starts in the NHL but he hasn’t played hockey in 18 months. That’s a long time without playing. He knows what he has to work on. He’s going to have to get better away from the puck, which he’s aware of. I think he’s from a fundamental perspective, he’s committed to it. I think once he gets confident defensively I think his game is going to grow exponentially.” — Eagles head coach Greg Cronin
“This is from Joe (Sakic), Chris (MacFarland) and myself. Our expectation was for him to come in after not playing and have a training camp and let it evolve and don’t set any expectations beyond him having participated in camp and having an assessment about where he’s at...I think when a player misses significant time, it’s always good to get those touch-points and get on the ice and get those situations and feels and get those ‘reps,’ as we call them, so you get comfortable and confident within them.” — Eagles GM and Avalanche Assistant GM Craig Billington
Timmins is crushing it in the AHL, no doubt about it. He got his shot early in the season and now I think Sakic and Co. want to give others their shot, too. He may earn himself another call-up if his continues to do so well, but until then, everyone’s earning their fair shake.
As far as Bowers goes, I really don’t see him getting called up at all this season. He’s behind guys like Sheldon Dries, Logan O’Connor and even A.J. Greer. In some freak way, if all those guys were to be out, maybe, just maybe, he gets called up. Very unlikely, however. Bowers has struggled a bit at the AHL level this season. He has just one goal and four points in 14 outings this far. He’s also a minus-5, second worst on the Eagles roster. He’s really not playing any special teams minutes, either, which in the AHL is a good indicator of coach’s trust.
Bowers is still a very, very raw talent, but talented, nonetheless. He, like Timmins, needs a year in the AHL and we’ll talk in camp next season.
More questions, comments or concerns? Hit me up on Twitter anytime @0ffScottFree. See you next Tuesday!