While GMs around the league weigh their options ahead of the impending Feb. 24 trade deadline, the Arizona Coyotes watch and wait to see how their own blockbuster deal pans out.
GM John Chayka pulled the trigger on his franchise-altering move back in December, acquiring former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall from the New Jersey Devils in a seven-piece deal. But two months on, little has been altered at all.
Despite Hall putting up 21 points through his 25 games in the desert, the Coyotes remain mired in the wild-card race, sitting within a couple of points of four other Western clubs looking to claw their way into the post-season. And with the star winger set to hit UFA status at the conclusion of this season, the Coyotes’ middling performance has some wondering whether the former MVP will be flipped at the deadline once again.
For Hall’s part, he says he’s hoping to stick this time, despite the lack of W’s.
“I want to make the playoffs with the guys here,” Hall told NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti Sunday. “I don’t want to go anywhere else. … I want to play here for the rest of year.”
Arizona’s earned just nine wins in the 25 games Hall’s been part of the picture, their marquee acquisition unfortunately coinciding with the loss of starting netminder Darcy Kuemper. But while his tenure with his third career franchise has gone somewhat similarly as the prior two when it comes to team success, Hall says he wants to see this season through in a Coyotes sweater.
“Everything has been great, besides the winning part. That’s basically the only part that’s missing over the last couple weeks, but the guys are great, the coaching staff’s been awesome, and Arizona is a great place to live,” he told NHL.com. “It’s been really fun just kind of getting into a new city, getting acclimated with a new group of guys. These guys have a lot of fun. They have a lot of fun playing hockey and it’s been fun enjoying that.”
For Chayka and Co., the impact of keeping Hall around may outweigh the haul they could potentially get should they move the 2010 No. 1 pick. Firstly, after seven seasons on the outside, making it into the post-season at all is of utmost importance to the slowly progressing ‘Yotes, perhaps even more than building towards greater success down the line.
And second, Hall has experience dragging a team through, having helped lead the Devils on a dominant stretch to close out the 2017-18 season, pushing them into the dance.
“There, with 14, 15 games left, we had the hardest schedule in the League, a lot of travel, and we made the best of it. We won games that we had to, and we salvaged points when we didn’t have our A-game and we made the playoffs on the second to last night of the year,” Hall told Gulitti.
“So, anything can happen if you have faith in what you’re doing and you believe in yourself, believe in your teammates. There’s a lot of hockey left to be played. That’s probably the most important thing to remember.”