Sitting atop the Pacific Division, the Arizona Coyotes don’t just believe they can make the playoffs for the first time since the spring of 2012, but can make some noise in the Stanley Cup chase.
Thus, on the eve of facing the San Jose Sharks on the road on Tuesday, the Coyotes made a huge move to bolster their offensive attack by acquiring star left wing Taylor Hall from the New Jersey Devils.
“Taylor Hall is one of the elite talents in the game today; a Hart Trophy winner, a high-end playmaker and one of the NHL’s most talented forwards,” Coyotes president of hockey operations and general manager John Chayka said in a statement. “We are beyond thrilled to add Taylor to our team as we continue in our mission of bringing a Stanley Cup home to Arizona.”
The Coyotes also acquired forward Blake Speers. They sent to the Devils a conditional first-round draft choice in 2020, a 2021 conditional third-round draft pick, and forwards Nick Merkley (a first-round pick in 2015) and Nate Schnarr along with defenseman Kevin Bahl.
Hall is a 28-year-old impending unrestricted free agent the Coyotes will look to re-sign. He has collected six goals and 25 points in 30 games for the Devils this season. Drafted by the Edmonton Oilers first overall in 2010, he has recorded six 20-plus goal seasons.
Arizona could use a boost. The Coyotes have dropped two of their last three games and three of five outings, with the latest defeat a 2-1 home loss to the Devils on Saturday.
The Sharks snapped a season-long six-game winless run (0-5-1) with a 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Even though the Sharks were outplayed and outshot for much of the game — and were somewhat flattered by the final score since they scored two empty-net goals — they were elated about returning to the win column.
“It’s good to get back on track,” said defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who suited up for his 1,000th NHL game. “Now some guys are feeling better, we’re feeling better as a team. It’s just one game, so we’ve got to string some together.”
The victory was the first since Bob Boughner took over the head coaching duties after the Sharks fired Pete DeBoer on Wednesday.
The need to build a winning streak is a recurring theme for the Sharks right now. San Jose has made the playoffs each of the last four seasons and missed only once in the previous 15 campaigns. It’s a veteran-laden team that’s well aware what it takes to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“It’s a start,” forward Timo Meier said of the win. “There’s a lot of things we still need to clean up, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
Boughner will turn to goaltender Aaron Dell for Tuesday’s game, both a reward for his 33-save performance against the Canucks, but also a result of the recent play from No. 1 goalie Martin Jones.
“Deller goes in net next game and Jones continues to work with (goalie coach Evgeni) Nabokov and get his game to where it needs to be,” Boughner said.
–Field Level Media