Rss

The Arizona Coyotes are going all-in. It’s been quite some time since playoff hockey was played in the desert and John Chayka wants that drought to end this spring.

On Monday afternoon, Elliotte Friedman reported that the Coyotes had won the Taylor Hall sweepstakes, sending a package of prospects and draft picks to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for the most coveted player on this year’s rental market.

New Jersey is eating half of Hall’s remaining salary hit in order to make the money work. The third-round pick will become a second-round pick if Hall sticks around in Arizona or the Coyotes win a playoff series this spring. It becomes a first-round pick if both of those things happen.

Nick Merkley was the 30th overall pick in the 2015 draft. He’s now in his third full season in the AHL and has 16 points in 26 games. Nate Schnarr was a third-round pick in the 2017 draft. He had a huge season in the OHL last year, posting 102 points in 65 games, but has just nine points in 22 games as an AHL rookie. Kevin Bahl is a second-round pick from 2018. He’s a defenceman who’s having a good season in the OHL and might make Team Canada’s World Junior squad.

So, ultimately, Arizona gave up three solid prospects and, at worst, two first-round picks for Hall. And those picks will be late first-rounders if everything works out for them. If things don’t work out for the Coyotes and they lose in the first round, they won’t have to worry about that second first-rounder anyways.

At a glance, it’s an incredibly light package for a player of Hall’s calibre. The Coyotes are one of the league’s best defensive teams right now and adding Hall will be a big boost for their below-average offence. If Arizona can become an above-average team offensively, which I imagine they will with Hall, they’ll be poised for a serious run this spring.

This likely makes Arizona the team to beat in the Pacific Division. Hopefully, Ken Holland has a response.

The Pacific Division is already incredibly tight and there isn’t much room for error. The Coyotes are serious about contending, the Flames and Golden Knights are waking up and playing to their abilities, the Sharks are a sleeping giant who could turn things around, and the Canucks will surely be aggressive at the deadline as they desperately want to get back into the playoffs.

It isn’t the end of the world that the Oilers missed out on Hall. Beyond it sentimentally being a great redemption story, the fit would have made quite a bit of sense and he certainly would have made the team better, but there are other players on the market. The important thing now is that Holland has a response to one of Edmonton’s competitors getting a lot better today.

I can empathize with not wanting to mortgage the future in order to go on a run this season because the Oilers aren’t good enough to contend for a Stanley Cup, but, when you have Connor McDavid on your roster, you simply can’t be punting seasons. The team’s strong start put them in a position to make the playoffs this spring, but it’ll take some work. Given the pretty cheap cost the Coyotes had to pony up for Hall, I’m not sure it’ll even require mortgaging the future to do so.

If a former Hart Trophy winner in Hall nets a first-round pick and three good-not-great prospects, you aren’t going to have to break the bank to acquire J.G. Pageau or Chris Kreider. None of the players the Coyotes traded are as good as Philip Broberg or Evan Bouchard. It might cost Kailer Yamamoto or Caleb Jones or even a first-round pick, but adding a player like that could very well be the difference between making the playoffs and not.