Taylor Hall trade New York Islanders
(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

It wasn’t long after the announcement was made, that Islanders captain Anders Lee would be out for the season that Taylor Hall rumors began swirling around social media. It was Thursday March 11th in a 5-3 win for the Islanders that also saw one of their leading goal-scorers go down. With the Islanders currently near the top of the Mass Mutual East division, they look poised to make another deep playoff run. However, without their captain, the Islanders could be looking to bring in more top-6 talent like they did at last year’s deadline with J.G. Pageau. With that said, should the Islanders consider bringing in Hall and at what cost?

What could Hall cost?

There is no doubt picks and/or prospects will be in play in order for the Sabres to trade away Hall. But it doesn’t look like a first rounder is the most likely return for the Sabres. This is what one executive told the Athletic:

“I don’t know what pick they’re getting to do it. Maybe a second? They’re not getting a first”

This doesn’t mean a second-round pick or C+ type prospect is a locked in return for Buffalo. However, with Hall’s cap hit, there really aren’t many teams that have the type of room to bring him in. This gives the leverage to those who can, like Islanders, who know they have other options if they wanted to pursue them instead.

Analysis for acquiring Hall:

After last years coming out party, it’s safe to say the Islanders are in win-now mode. If anything truly showed that, it was the J.G. Pageau trade which saw the Islanders give up a hefty amount to improve their scoring depth. Their core pipeline of prospects have seemingly taken the next step as Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows, Noah Dobson, and Ilya Sorokin have dawned the blue and orange already this season. The Isles can afford to trade away picks, especially if it’s only a second-rounder. While he’s not the Hall we saw in New Jersey a few years back, he still has the speed and skillset to be a playmaker.

To Hall’s credit, he wasn’t getting the healthy Jack Eichel he believed he would be playing alongside when he decided to sign in Buffalo. Now he’s on a Eichel-less Sabres team that hasn’t won in thirteen straight. After all, Hall did want to join a contender. With the Sabres seemingly needing to continue a rebuild and the Islanders looking to replace Lee, its a move that makes sense. Hall would be a perfect complement on a first line with the expeditious Mat Barzal and former teammate Jordan Eberle.

Although Hall’s play isn’t quite made for a rigged structural system the Islanders run, a first line with that combination of speed and skill will be extremely difficult to matchup against. Anders Lee is a huge loss. However, if the Islanders truly want to make a run, to stack up against the Tampa’s and Vegas’, you’re going to need this type of depth.

Analysis against Hall:

It depends on what they give up for him, but is a player with that cap hit who has been underperforming worth it as rental in a COVID season? Some suggests Hall is not a “team-first” guy. If that is anywhere near the case, a move to the Isles may not work out on both ends. As many around the NHL have noted, the Islanders are the most cohesive team-first unit in the NHL. There is also some belief Hall has enjoyed his time and Buffalo and is willing to stay. In the end, he’s not going anywhere if he doesn’t want to as his one-year deal comes with a no-movement clause.

Ultimately, the reason the Islanders don’t go for this move is because there may be better and cheaper fits. Kyle Palmieri could be a better fit and use of assets for the Islanders. He’s a team player who can be used all throughout the lineup and in all situations while Hall is strictly an offensive catalyst. A Palmieri move also keeps additional options open for the Islanders who wouldn’t have any space if they pursued a Taylor Hall deal. Everything will depend on how Lou feels about his team and what he believes they need to contend.

The Verdict:

I think Hall would look really good one the first line. If the Islanders only have to give up a second or worse it should be a no-brainer. At the same time, I think the Islanders would benefit from a veteran guy like Palmieri. While I think leaving some space open to bring in more than one players could be a good option for the Isles, with a team that is as cohesive as them, bringing in one too many guys could disturb what the Islanders have going for them now.