Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and right now Taylor Hall is engulfed in a cloud of burgundy and blue smoke. While some fans of the Colorado Avalanche don’t believe trading for Hall is something the team should do, general manager Joe Sakic very much disagrees - and he doesn’t want to wait until the trade deadline. Sakic is putting on the full court press to acquire the 28-year-old winger before the holiday roster freeze kicks in on December 19th.
Saturday night, Chris Johnston of Hockey Night in Canada had this to say about where the Hall trade negotiations stand:
“Some teams are thinking it might take as many as four pieces to get him (Hall) from the Devils...There are a lot of teams sniffing around this process but the feeling around the industry is that the Colorado Avalanche are the favorites right now. Pushing to get Taylor Hall, perhaps as soon as the Christmas break”
This corroborates what Mile High Hockey had been told about the situation last week. The four pieces would likely end up being two prospects a first-round pick and another pick that would be conditional on re-signing. This package would be very similar to what the Ottawa Senators got for Matt Duchene at the deadline last season.
Due to Hall’s unwillingness to sign a contract extension in-season, Bowen Byram will not be one of the prospects involved in the trade. The Devils would love to get the 2019 fourth overall pick as a part of the deal but with no extension, that isn’t going to happen.
The sticking point appears to be Conor Timmins. The Avalanche want to hold on to him at all costs but he might be the necessary price to get the deal done. Ray Shero would like to land a young defender that could play for New Jersey this season. Timmins would be exactly that. The Avalanche love Timmins both as a player and as a person so they could hold firm on not letting him go in the trade. If that’s the case, Shero might settle for a defensive prospect that is a little further away from the NHL.
From what I’ve heard, there is a very strong possibility that the Avs want the final deal to be Martin Kaut, Drew Helleson, Colorado's 2020 first round pick and a 2021 pick that is conditional on Hall re-signing with the Avalanche in the summer. While the Devils insist on it being Timmins and Kaut.
While Kaut’s value has diminished for some since being selected 16th overall in 2018, the Devils are said to have been enamored with him going into the draft and likely would have selected him if he had fallen one more spot to them. In Helleson, New Jersey would be getting a very underrated prospect. The 18-year-old played the top shut down role on the Jack Hughes-led USNTDP team and has flourished as a freshman at Boston College this year. Drafted 47th overall this past summer, Helleson is the type of unassuming prospect that most fans don’t pay attention to until he turns into a dependable second pairing defender in the NHL.
Trading away Hall without a prospect that is viewed as a “blue-chip” might be a tough sell for Shero but a package of Kaut, Helleson and a 1st is a very nice return for a player the team knows won’t be re-signing in New Jersey when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.
One interesting wrinkle to the story is that the Devils will be visiting Denver to take on the Avalanche next Friday night. At this point, there is a realistic possibility that Hall is in an Avs jersey for that game.
Part of the reason Sakic would like to get the deal done soon is that as we get closer to the trade deadline, Hall’s cap hit for the remainder of the season is going to drop. This would allow teams closer to the cap ceiling to join the sweepstakes and it could cause more of a bidding war. Right now, the Avalanche are one of the few teams that can afford to add Hall’s cap hit without subtracting from the current lineup.
If Sakic is able to execute his plan of acquiring Hall before Christmas, it would be a huge coup for the Avalanche. Most teams operate conservatively, allowing these situations to play out until February. Sakic undoubtedly sees the benefit of having two extra months of Taylor Hall in his lineup. Whether the trade gets done in the next two weeks, at the trade deadline in February or not at all, one thing is for certain, Sakic thinks Taylor Hall could be the missing piece to put his Avalanche over the top this season. That’s especially the case if he can acquire Hall without giving up a body from the current roster.
They’re already one of the best teams in the Western Conference, adding the 2018 Hart Trophy winner to play alongside Nathan MacKinnon & Co. would turn them into a Stanley Cup favorite.