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COLUMN: Should the Colorado Avalanche pay the price Taylor Hall?

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Stay the course...

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at New Jersey Devils Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

You’ve read the title, and you already know where I’m going with this. So let’s just jump in, play a little devil’s advocate (pun absolutely intended).

I don’t think the Colorado Avalanche need Taylor Hall. There, I said it.

The reality of the situation is the New Jersey Devils are a disaster this season. They just relieved their coach of his duties, they sit at the bottom of the NHL standings — keeping warm with the “once-greats” like the Detroit Red Wings or the L.A. Kings or the Chicago Blackhawks — their star winger isn’t going to re-sign with them, and so naturally, GM Ray Shero is going to do all he can to get some pieces back to his team, rather than watch Hall walk away for nothing when his contract expires this offseason.

It’s been reported by SportsNet’s Chris Johnston on Saturday night’s Hockey Night in Canada “Headline’s” segment that “The feeling in the industry … is that the Colorado Avalanche are the favorites right now pushing to try to get Taylor Hall; perhaps as soon as the Christmas break, which starts Dec. 19.”

Though he adds, “It sounds as though the conversations so far have largely been one-sided. The Devils are encouraging teams to step forward with offers, not so much of a back and forth.”

It’s pretty clear that if a trade is really to go down, the Avs are likely the landing spot for the former Hart Trophy winner. The question(s) then becomes: How much is this going to cost? And is it worth it?

I can assure you that this trade won’t be one-for-one, and the asking price is the ballpark, or ice rink, of four pieces going back to New Jersey.

We can follow history’s model of successful trades made for top-end talent like Taylor Hall. It’d likely go a little something like this: A roster player — say Tyson Jost or Vladislav Kamenev — a top-end defensive prospect — looking at you Conor Timmins — for sure at least one first-round pick and then a conditional pick that would probably become a first if, say, Colorado reaches the Cup Final or Hall re-signs at the end of the season.

No, Bowen Byram would not be included in this trade — Joe Sakic knows better than that. Rather, he’d more than likely have to part ways with his heart-warming comeback story of a highly-coveted defenseman that is Conor Timmins. Does he do that? I could see it happening. After all, the Avs are loaded with talented puck-moving D-men like Timmins (see: soon-to-be Calder Trophy winner Cale Makar, Sam Girard and Bowen Byram, who will be in the NHL next season).

Are you comfortable giving up your future for a shot at glory this year? It becomes a question of short-term versus long-term success.

Look, no doubt about it, Taylor Hall would make the Avalanche a better team and would boost their already-good odds to raise the Cup that much higher. Sure. The argument for many is that Colorado’s Cup window is wide open and the time to act is now. The “window” everyone is referring to, by the way, is Nathan MacKinnon’s contract. Given his elite production, the fact that Sakic is paying just $6.3 million on average per season for their superstar is truly highway robbery. His next contract will command closer to double that, no doubt. His, and the Avs’, window will be open for at least the next few seasons, before he’s due for a raise in 2023.

Instead of adding one piece, think about this high-octane defensive unit you’d retain by staying the course. Girard, Makar, Byram, Timmins. Coming soon to a roster near you at the start of the 2020 season. That is, given they’re not dealt. Couple that with you’re ridiculously potent top line, re-sign Burakovsky at a mid-tier price point for the strong depth he’s added this season, and there’s really no need for a guy like Hall.

Sakic has worked hard to build towards the future. It’s what he does. He’s worked hard to build a young, exciting, fast-paced defensive core. He’s filled the necessary depth roles to accompany his superstars. He’s worked hard to get to where the Avalanche is at right now, and that is a Stanley Cup contender.

Without Hall’s services, and month-long run with a depleted garrison, Colorado still sits pretty tied for fourth in the entire NHL. They’ve scored the second-most goals in the league and average the second-most goals-scored per game, and for much of the time without two-thirds of one arguably the best line in hockey.

So what is it exactly that Taylor Hall adds to the Avalanche?

Sure, he adds a big-time name to Denver and even more excitement to Colorado’s roster. But aside from his enigmatic Hart-Trophy winning season of 2017-18, his production has been on the decline ever since the trade sent him to New Jersey. If we throw out that — I’ll emphasize the word “enigmatic” again — season, Hall hasn’t topped more than 20 goals since the 2015-16 campaign.

There’s no guarantee that he signs a contract with Colorado at the end of the season. He’ll likely go chase the money, and like MacKinnon, will be due for a pretty healthy raise from his $6 million AAV. With money to spend on guys like MacK, Makar, Landeskog and potentially Burakovsky in the somewhat near future, how much is really left for Hall?

A simple Cost-Benefit Analysis would tell us there’s plenty of risk — maybe too much — involved in selling some long-term impact players for a short-term improving chance at a championship. As I look at the team’s roster now, and look at what they’ve been able to do — even when the hockey gods smite Colorado’s roster with the injury bug — I’m very impressed. This is a strong team — both on paper and on ice.

After the Avs beat the Boston Bruins handily 4-1 on Saturday, their odds to lift Lord Stanley’s chalice in June is up to the third-best chances, right behind Washington and the aforementioned favorited Bruins. Before the season, Colorado was given the fifth-best odds. “Impressive” really doesn’t begin to describe how the team has been able to win, and improve its Vegas odds, while without many of its top stars. That’s a team you look at and say “wow, that’s a Stanley Cup contender.” And that’s without Taylor Hall.

I ran a poll on MHH a week ago and asked if the Avs should trade for Hall. A whopping 72 percent said “no.

**Editors note: the twitter poll that ran yesterday with 1,000 votes yielded a 82% “yes” for Taylor Hall if the price is right

Now I ask again: Do the Avalanche really need Taylor Hall?

Poll

Make the trade?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Yes
    (310 votes)
  • 74%
    No
    (916 votes)
1226 votes total Vote Now

If the price isn’t too expensive, would you like the Avs to get Taylor Hall?

Poll

Make this trade

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    Yes
    (722 votes)
  • 38%
    No
    (445 votes)
1167 votes total Vote Now