Since being acquired from the New Jersey Devils on December 16th, 2019 Taylor Hall has been far and away the best talent on the ‘Yotes roster. He has amassed 9 goals and 14 assists during his short tenure in the desert showcasing the kind of elite skill not seen before in the valley. So what is the problem? The problem is the underwhelming record of 11-14-4 that the team has posted since Hall’s arrival in the desert and the fact that he is a free agent after the season. Although Hall is certainly not to blame for the team’s woes, they are in a tough spot regarding Hall’s future with the team. So the question is, with Hall’s impending free agency, are the Coyotes better suited to deal the best talent that has ever graced Gila River Arena before the trade deadline to continue to try to amass young talent and picks? Or, risk missing out on the playoffs for the 8th straight season and having Hall take his talents elsewhere?
Hall has gone on record to say that he doesn’t want to be traded again this season. Although that is certainly understable after he has already been dealt across the country once this season and had to uproot his life, that decision is not his to make. The NHL trade deadline is right around the corner, leaving the Coyotes with only a few days to come to a decision on how to handle Hall’s future with the team. In my opinion, there are only two viable options that I think the club should explore.
The first option would be trading Hall to a contender against his wishes. Chayka and company need to take a long hard look at where they are in the standings, which is currently the first spot out of the playoffs with 68 points. So it probably goes without saying, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway, the Coyotes really aren’t in a great spot. There are several teams that are also very much alive in the race for the postseason:
- Winnipeg has 2 games in hand on the Coyotes and are only 1 point behind the Coyotes.
- Nashville has 4 games in hand on the Coyotes and are only 3 points behind the Coyotes.
- Minnesota has 4 games in hand on the Coyotes and are only 5 points behind the Coyotes.
That’s not to mention the other teams already in playoff positioning such as Calgary, Las Vegas, Vancouver and Edmonton. Suffice it to say the Coyotes are facing stiff competition for a playoff spot and the odds certainly don’t seem to be in their favor, especially the way the club has been playing the last 2 months. I’m not going to get into what has been going wrong for the ‘Yotes the last few months, but when you factor in how they have been trending in the wrong direction, the teams nipping at their heels and their remaining schedule, its enough to give any Coyote fan a case of Valley Fever. All things considered, the playoffs just don’t seem realistic at this point for the floundering Coyotes. And if that is what Chayka and company believe as well, ship Hall to a contender and continue to try to improve the future of the team with whatever you can recoup in a trade for the star.
The second option, which is my least favorite of the two, is to mortgage the future for the present. Although the odds are fairly long for the Coyotes to make the postseason, it is not an insurmountable task. That being said, if the front office believes they are another solid piece away from being a true playoff contender, they could look to their minor league system to see what they have to offer. With their first round pick this year already sent over to New Jersey in the Hall exchange earlier this season, it seems the Coyotes would have to dig into this prospect pool to pull off any type of trade for some NHL talent at the deadline. There is one name that comes to mind right away that could pique another club’s interest in a potential deal. That name is Victor Soderstorm, the team’s first round pick from this year’s draft. He is a talented, young, smoothskating defensmen who is very responsible with the puck on his stick, something teams covet on their blueline. After trading other top defensive prospect Pierre Oliver-Joseph to the Penguins before the season in the Kessel deal, if the organization was to part ways with Soderstrom as well, it would leave the cupboard looking pretty lean. This option would be a huge gamble and could potentially set the team back a year or two if they miss the playoffs and Hall does not resign in the Valley of the Sun.
So what direction will the Coyotes proceed down? That I am not sure, but my personal preference would be for them to thank Hall for his time and give him a shot at a true Stanley Cup Contender and try to put some more pieces in place for the future. I hope Chayka and company feel the same. I guess we will all find out together come Monday.