For the NHL’s 31 general managers, the season pause brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has spawned a unique situation — not simply in the sense that everything feels fairly unprecedented at the moment, but in the opening of a new window in which to make some decisions.
In Arizona, the most highly-scrutinized NHL-related decision at the moment involves star winger Taylor Hall and his potential future with the Coyotes — a future that’s reportedly being discussed once again amid this break in league action.
The former Hart Trophy winner joined the organization in December via a seven-piece trade with the New Jersey Devils, posting 27 points through 35 games with the club before league play came to a halt. With unrestricted free agency around the corner following this season, it appeared talks between GM John Chayka and Hall’s agent, Darren Ferris, would wait until the off-season.
But given the current situation, the off-season’s come early, in a sense.
“I have shared some calls with Darren. I think we’re both just trying to get our head wrapped around this scenario here and how it affects the Coyotes; how it potentially affects Taylor. It’s unique,” Chayka told The Athletic’s Craig Morgan Saturday. The Coyotes manager added that talks haven’t progressed to ironing out details of a potential contract, however. “I don’t have an answer for you other than to say, no, we haven’t exchanged numbers or anything like that.”
While talks were originally to be put off for the time being so as not to be a distraction down the home stretch of the season, the NHL’s current predicament has obviously changed the situation.
“Obviously, our intent was always to get through the season and not having any conflict with Taylor’s play. This leaves us in a bit of a limbo where it’s obviously not technically the end of the season, but it also wouldn’t conflict with his play to talk,” Chayka told Morgan.
“All I would say right now is that both sides are gathering information and having some discussions. Where that goes I’m not entirely sure today. As we talk, we’ll see where things go.”
Hall’s currently playing out the final season of the seven-year, $42-million deal he signed with Edmonton back in 2012. With a career-best 93-point effort in the books the season before last and a Hart Trophy added to his shelf, a raise is sure to come for the 28-year-old.
It remains to be seen whether that comes from the Coyotes or elsewhere, though it appears the possibility remains open that a deal comes sooner than previously expected.