Ever since the embarrassing back-to-back 7-1 losses to Colorado during round one, the general consensus is that there is no chance at all that Taylor Hall will re-sign with the Arizona Coyotes. There’s also been a shockingly sizable subset of Coyotes fans online arguing that Arizona shouldn’t bring him back. The usual “Hall Curse” was commonly cited, but another argument was Hall’s production. With all of the questions and speculation running around, I wanted to give my own thoughts on the topic.
Right off the bat, I’d like to address the argument of the “Hall Curse.” As we all know, sports fans are ridiculously superstitious and will dub just about anything a curse. Just like with the “Madden Curse,” this is simply a self fulfilling prophecy.
Things happen in sports and there are a huge number of variables that go into a team or player’s success. As for his production, Taylor Hall has been one of the best on the team. In 35 games in Arizona, Hall recorded ten goals along with 17 assists for 27 points.
Adding the 25 points scored in New Jersey and Taylor Hall was the lone 50 point scorer on the Coyotes. In fact, Hall is the only fifty point scorer the Coyotes have had since Clayton Keller’s rookie season. Then, in the playoffs, Hall played in all nine games and scored two goals and four assists for six points.
Like in the regular season, he was just shy of a point per game. He produces at a consistent level and Arizona’s top priority should be to retain the left-winger’s services.
There are two main obstacles in Arizona’s way, however. The salary cap and team’s playoff performance. Starting off with the salary cap, Arizona had little cap space this season to acquire Hall to begin with. New Jersey had to retain about $3 million of Hall’s salary for the deal to be completed.
Arizona has one year left of Derek Stepan ($6.5 million cap), Alex Goligoski ($5.47 million cap) and Antti Raanta ($4.25 million cap) that could be moved to make room, but how likely is it that any of these players will be traded? Arizona seems to think Antti Raanta is still a number one goalie, even though he hasn’t been healthy during his entire tenure in Arizona. It’s possible Adin Hill adopts the backup role and Raanta could be moved, but Arizona would have to retain salary or add in a draft pick to make the move appealing.
Goligoski has a limited no movement clause and has been on a steep decline defensively. Last season, he did play better overall, but is it enough to attract a suitor? I don’t find that likely. Stepan has been on a huge decline during his time in Arizona, but he played very well during the playoffs.
In nine games, the centreman recorded one goal and four assists. He likely increased his trade value ever so slightly, but Arizona would likely have to retain salary to get a deal done. So logically, Arizona could free up around $12 million in cap space if everything goes well and they only retain on moving Stepan.
Too bad Brad Richardson, Carl Soderberg, Vinnie Hinostroza and system players like Kyle Capobianco are on expiring contracts. Needless to say, Arizona is going to lose something and that could hurt contract talks.
Lastly, we have the team’s playoff performance. They played well during the play-in round against the Nashville Predators and won the series three games to one. It was the Colorado series that exposed many of the issues surrounding Arizona. During the entire series, Arizona was outplayed and mainly kept within games late because of Darcy Kuemper.
Then, the series ended with back-to-back 7-1 losses and Arizona simply had no answers. Seeing how this team fell apart and failed to respond could make Taylor question the strength of the roster. If he desires to compete, many other teams can offer better situations.
In my opinion, Arizona needed to beat Colorado and push towards the conference finals to have accomplished enough to make re-signing Hall a no-brainer. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and the only sell Arizona has is the fact that they won the play-in and made the playoffs for the first time in eight years. This is going to be a hard sell, and while I’d like the Canadian to re-sign, I just don’t see it happening.