NHL Mailbag: Is Taylor Hall worth the massive deal he's likely to get?

Wherever he may end up, Taylor Hall is likely to get paid handsomely with his next deal. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Wherever he may end up, Taylor Hall is likely to get paid handsomely with his next deal. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Now that U.S. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and everyone has a pretty good sense of who’s in and who’s out, attentions are starting to shift from “what can my team do to turn it around?” to “who can my team trade/trade for?”

Not surprisingly, a lot of that is focused on the Devils, a team that just made a way-too-late coaching change and, as outlined the other day, has plenty to offer in the trade market. But there is other stuff, too.

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Let’s go:

Lou asks: “Is Hall a $10-11 million player?”

There’s a difference between “is he” and “should he be.”

I suspect the answer to your specific question is “yes,” but we’re unlikely to find out before July 1. And as much as I think he’s a great player, I wouldn’t want to be the GM that locks him into that deal.

He’s probably going to sign for seven years somewhere. He’s probably going to get eight figures a year. I think it’s a big risk, and it’s not only because his game is almost entirely driven by offense and his mobility, which will probably erode as he hits 29 early next season and will be locked in for another six-plus years after that. 

But also: I think everyone thinks of that MVP season as his ceiling, which it probably isn’t anymore, and because he has a total of just four seasons in his career with more than 65 games played. And he’s only scored 30-plus once.

It’s a big gamble. I think he really helps his next team this season, probably the next two as well, maybe even one more after that. But beyond that, I dunno. And even “really helps” might not be $10 million worth of help.

CJ asks: “Who is the best trade match for Chris Kreider? And why should that team trade for CK rather than Hall?”

The obvious answer to the second question is that Kreider will be much cheaper to acquire than Hall, but also he’s probably not as good.

Neither one is having a particularly good season but I think you can put that down to coaching, deployment, quality of the team around them, etc. as much as their own individual struggles.

But who’s a legit (or at least semi-legit) team that needs a forward who can play in the top six at both center and left wing? Let’s see here: Arizona, Boston, Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton, the Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Vancouver, Winnipeg. That’s off the top of my head.

Not all of them have the cap flexibility to make it happen without the Rangers helping out (retention, taking back a bad deal). And obviously not all those teams could keep him long-term. But as a pure rental, I would love to see him in Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Boston, St. Louis, or Vancouver.

Mitchell asks: “Do you think we'll see a player put up a 200-point season in the 2020s?”

I really doubt it. Wayne Gretzky is the only guy to ever clear 200 in a season (and he did it four times in five years) and that was all when the league-average save percentage was in the……….. .870s???

I cannot impress upon you how different hockey was back then compared to today’s game. Put, like, Viktor Arvidsson in a time machine set for the early ‘80s and he makes Gretzky look like Semenko. Like, remember how last year everyone thought, “the Sharks would be so good except their goaltending is the worst I’ve ever seen?” Aaron Dell had an .886 save percentage; it would have been tied for the 39th-best single-season save percentage for any goalie with more than 30 games played from 1981-86.

That said, I can’t imagine a scenario in which today’s average goaltending even drops below .900.

Mike asks: “Does John Marino deserve Calder attention for buoying Jack Johnson?”

This isn’t the first question I’ve gotten about Marino, who’s really excelling in his first year as a pro. Not difficult to make the argument that he’s been the Penguins’ best defenseman.

And yes, that means dragging Jack Johnson along for the ride. He’s currently above replacement-level and if that holds up, it’ll be the first time since 2016-17 that’s been the case.

However, I think we all understand that Marino isn’t even close to being the best rookie at his own position (Cale Makar) or indeed, even the second-best (Quinn Hughes). I bet when this season is all said and done, we don’t even think of him as the best rookie defenseman who played at Harvard last season, because Adam Fox has really come into his own of late and he has a higher ceiling.

With all that having been said, Marino has been great. It’s just a tough rookie class.

John asks: “Do you think the Avs should be all in on Taylor Hall? Or does the cost of significant assets for a rental/expensive long-term deal for a 30 something give you pause?”

This is an interesting destination for Hall (or Kreider) because the Avs’ rebuild seems more or less done. They have some nice players on the farm who could help them as soon as next season, but the long-term core of this team is in place and it’s tough to say how much more they can improve for, say, the 2022-23 season.

With that said, I don’t think Colorado is a realistic destination for Hall in particular because of the cost and the fact that he would be a pure rental. Even if the Avs were interested in retaining him long-term, I’m not sure how you make the money work between Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabe Landeskog, Erik Johnson (signed for four more years???), Sam Girard, and still leave room for re-signing Makar in two years.

Kreider provides potentially nearly as much value as Hall at a much lower rental price, even more enticing because you don’t necessarily feel like you have to keep him. And he might be someone you can keep around longer term but also maybe not.

Dane asks: “Some here in Edmonton are jumping on the thought train that the time is NOW for Holland to act, and he should sell the farm in order to bolster the NHL roster because ‘the historic starts of Draisaitl/McDavid shouldn’t be wasted.’ Please explain why they’re wrong.”

First of all this is not a question.

But the reason they’re wrong is that this Edmonton team isn’t a Hall or Kreider or solid defenseman away from being truly competitive, no matter how good the other two guys are. There’s still a huge gulf between Draisaitl and/or McDavid “on” and “off” because this is a team devoid of depth.

Adding Hall or Kreider to the Nugent-Hopkins line helps. Adding a solid 200-foot defenseman to play with Klefbom helps. But it doesn’t help enough to justify the price for what should still be considered a rebuilding team.

Even if that team is, for yet another year, wasting McDavid’s and Draisaitl’s primes.

Seman asks: “Are the Devils an elite forward away from being a good team?” 

Is that elite forward also an elite goalie, or…?

Ryan Lambert is a Yahoo! Sports hockey columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

Some questions in the mailbag are edited for clarity or to remove swear words, which are illegal to use.

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