After the New Jersey Devils acquired P.K. Subban, Taylor Hall texted Ray Shero a green checkmark.
“Like, ‘Check that box off,”‘ Shero said. “I guess that’s good.”
The Devils have a much longer checklist to complete to convince Hall to re-sign and not leave as a free agent next summer. There is no rush from either side on negotiating an extension for the 2018 NHL MVP, and as much off-season work as Shero has done to improve the roster, the process will likely take into next season for Hall to see if New Jersey is actually a place he wants to be for the long term.
“You want to play on the best team possible, and I’ve played nine seasons in the NHL and only won one playoff game,” Hall said. “You want to be on a team that’s not only a playoff contender but a Stanley Cup contender every year because I only have so many more years left in this league and so many more chances to win a Stanley Cup.
New Jersey traded for a top-pairing defenceman in Subban, won the draft lottery to select centre Jack Hughes first overall and signed winger Wayne Simmonds.
“This is a team that’s [trending] up, getting better and better,” Simmonds said. “They’ve added some pieces including myself this off-season. Obviously P.K. and Jack Hughes. There’s a lot of young talent. Definitely really excited to be part of it.”
We’re going to have more than a couple new faces next year. … Just injecting some new blood into the team is going to be really good.— Devils forward Taylor Hall on the team’s recent addition of Jack Hughes, P.K. Subban and Wayne Simmonds
After a disappointing season — Hall missed half of it with a knee injury and New Jersey finished third to last in the league — Shero understood the all-star winger wanted more talent around him.
Shero asked Hall what he thought of Subban before making the move to get the 2013 Norris Trophy winner and got a resounding vote of confidence. Even before New Jersey signed Simmonds, Hall gave the Devils’ upgrades a thumbs up.
No single player is more important to the Devils’ success than Hall, who carried them into the playoffs two seasons ago with 93 points and whose injury derailed any hopes of contending in 2018-19.
‘Big decision for Taylor, team’
The 27-year-old who spent his first six NHL seasons in Edmonton doesn’t want to commit until he thinks the mix in New Jersey could be enough to win a championship.
Maybe that’s why Hall talked well before the start of the regular season about the Devils getting off to a hot start. Winning on the ice is more important than winning the off-season when it comes to Hall’s future.
Subban said the Devils “have to get [Hall] signed” because he’s a go-to player. Based on the seven-year, $81.5-million contract the cross-river rival New York Rangers just gave winger Artemi Panarin, it’s realistically to think Hall could command $10 million or more a season no matter where he signs.
In-depth negotiations are yet to come, even though money shouldn’t be an impediment to the Devils locking up Hall for the remainder of his prime and more.
“We’re both on the same page and both groups have been on the same page,” Shero said. “I don’t have the crystal ball as to when or how or what the story will be, but I think we’ll know it when we get to it.”