The New Jersey Devils are one of the most interesting teams in the league right now, with immense pressure on their coaching staff to get things turned around after their early season struggles. Those struggles go beyond just the immediate future of John Hynes though, as the team continues to try to convince Taylor Hall to sign a long-term extension. Elliotte Friedman starts off his latest 31 Thoughts column for Sportsnet with an examination of the situation, and then explained himself further on the Tim and Sid show:
The Devils know that if they’re not looking like a consistent playoff team, the chances of him staying are extremely unlikely. So they know they have to get going. They made a pretty interesting move today behind the bench. They realize if it doesn’t change they’re going to have to start having these [trade] conversations with other clubs.
Friedman even went on to speculate about a potential suitor, noting that the Edmonton Oilers have wanted to “correct” the previous trade for a long time. The Oilers obviously have a new front office in place now, but the simple fact that it is getting to the point of speculation like this is not the way the Devils hoped this season would go.
After selecting Jack Hughes first overall, adding P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds and Nikita Gusev, New Jersey was supposed to be not only improved but competing for a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division. They’ve now gotten off to an 0-4-2 start to the season and can’t seem to find their way in either end of the rink, allowing more than twice as many goals as they have scored to this point.
It is too early for the Devils to throw in the towel—after all, it’s just six games—but after watching their rival New York Islanders lose captain John Tavares for nothing as an unrestricted free agent (a decision by the forward that Hall has said “took a lot of guts”) they’ll need to make a tough decision before the trade deadline on whether their future includes the 2018 Hart Trophy winner if he doesn’t yet have a contract in hand.
Hall will turn 28 next month and has five points through six games.