Remember back before the 2019-20 season began how everyone — myself included — was talking about how the 2019 offseason will be remembered as the catalyst for heating up the cold war between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils? Well, a lot has changed since then.
The Battle of the Hudson isn’t going anywhere, but one of its key figures is. The Devils are actively shopping 2018 Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall, to the point where they are holding him out of their lineup because they don’t want to risk injuring him. In other words, Hall’s days as a Devil are done.
I’m told Taylor Hall has not been dealt at this point, however, there is some traction in trade talks the Devils are having with teams and so the risk is not worth playing him play at the moment. Stay tuned. https://t.co/i3273tPiDX— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 14, 2019
The Arizona Coyotes are reportedly the front-runners for Hall, but of course a lot can change before New Jersey general manager Ray Shero pulls the trigger on a deal. At least half a dozen teams have been linked to the Devils in Hall trade discussions.
What Does this Mean for the Rangers?
When it became clear that the Devils weren’t going to re-sign Hall this season, a shadow fell over Chris Kreider’s potential trade value for the upcoming deadline.
Last season, general managers across the league were waiting to pull the trigger on deals because Mark Stone was on the market. At the 2018 trade deadline, that player was Erik Karlsson. From the outside-looking-in, this trend makes plenty of sense; teams don’t want to settle for less when they are competing for the biggest fish available. When so many teams are waiting for that big domino to fall, it impacts the entire market.
So, if the Devils move Hall before the New Year begins, that could change how things play out at the 2020 trade deadline in a big way. It could also be a boon to the Rangers to have Hall, who is undeniably a more desirable asset, off the market when they are trying to sell Kreider. There’s also a chance that Kreider’s value could increase in the aftermath of the Hall deal. We have seen the arms race for talent at the deadline result in some teams getting a lot more than they probably should for “rentals” like Kreider.
The Big Picture
Needless to say, Shero and the Devils will get a big haul in return for Hall. If the Devils focus on adding picks and prospects when they move Hall, which they should, it will likely have major implications not only on the future of their franchise, but also the future of the division.
It took less than three months for the Devils big 2019 offseason to look disastrous, but there are a lot of exceptional young players on New Jersey’s roster and in their system — Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier being the cream of the crop. If Shero plays his cards right, he could harvest a lot of potential for his team. However, he might also consider acquiring a player(s) who can help his team now. There’s a case to be made for replacing Hall as both a leader and someone to help carry the load in New Jersey while the kids develop.
Regardless of which path Shero chooses, it will impact the future of the Metropolitan Division and the Rangers-Devils rivalry. The good news for the Rangers is that the Devils’ decision to move Hall sooner rather than later is good news for Kreider’s value at the deadline. It’s also highly unlikely that the Devils will be able to find a player as valuable or impactful as Hall in the assets they acquire, but we won’t know that for sure until those seeds start to grow.