The Arizona Coyotes have acquired forwards Taylor Hall and Blake Speers from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for defenseman Kevin Bahl, forwards Nick Merkley and Nate Schnarr, as well as a 2020 1st round draft pick and a 2021 conditional third round pick. The Devils will retain 50% of Hall's salary.
The Coyotes are not the team that will often make a trade like this. That's likely because they are never good. It is also because they often acquire bad contracts from other teams, and those players never play for them. Take Pavel Datsyuk, Dave Bolland and Marian Hossa for example. But now, the Hossa trade is coming back to hurt them. While Hossa is on LTIR, and will not count towards the cap hit, his contract brings the Coyotes over the cap by over $2 million. Even with the money retained, Hall's cap hit for both teams will be $3 million. Without trading any NHLers, the Coyotes don't clear up much space. They will have to waive someone, put someone on LTIR or make another trade to make the deal work. But it will be worth it. Hall is an elite winger. The Hart trophy winner just two seasons ago, Hall was the 1st overall pick in 2010. In 2017-18, he scored 39 goals with 93 points in his second season with the Devils after being acquired from Edmonton for Adam Larsson. Hall is another first line winger. The Coyotes acquired Phil Kessel, a consistent goal scorer, in the offseason, but he has just seven goals so far. If he is on the same line as Hall, Kessel will score more goals. Hall has not been much of a goal scorer this year, but he already has 19 assists in 30 games. The Coyotes also get an AHL forward in Speers that will just add depth.
Hall, 28, scored six goals with 19 assists for 25 points in 30 games for the Devils this season. In his NHL career for the Devils and Edmonton Oilers, Hall has scored 208 goals with 328 assists for 536 points in 592 games.
Speers, 22, has three games of NHL experience, all coming in 2016-17. He did not get a point. In 10 AHL games this year, Speers has one assist.
The Devils have had a terrible start to the season. They have a 10-17-5 record, and are dead last in the Metropolitan Division. Hall, their star forward, is the top pending free agent, and wasn't going to re-sign. The trade Hall for a haul, acquiring a first round pick, and a third that can be upgraded. If the Coyotes win one playoff round this year, or re-sign Hall, the pick is a second rounder. If both things occur, the Devils get Arizona's 2021 first round pick. With the tight cap space in Arizona, Hall's expected raise and Arizona usually being unappealing to top free agents, Devils fans will have to hope Arizona wins a playoff round to get a pick upgrade. The Devils also acquire three prospects. The oldest is Merkley, who was a late first round pick in the star studded 2015 draft. However, he has played in just one NHL game, and does not have a very impressive AHL track record. Schnarr is a third round pick from 2017, and Bahl was a second rounder from 2018. While a trade was close, the Devils scratched Hall twice for precautionary reasons. The first game was against a big time suitor in Colorado, and the second game was of course, against the Coyotes.
Merkley, 22, had no points in his one NHL game in 2017-18. In 26 games for AHL Tucson this year, Merkley has scored three goals with 13 assists for 16 points. He had 34 points in 43 games in 2018-19.
Bahl, 19, has five goals with 15 assists for 20 points in 28 games for the OHL's Ottawa 67s this season. Bahl also had 34 points last year, but in 68 games.
Schnarr, 20, has one goal with eight assists for nine points in 22 games for Tucson this year, his first professional season. For the OHL's Guelph Storm last year, Schnarr scored 34 goals with 68 assists for 102 points in 65 games.