As we continue to inch closer and closer to the NHL’s preseason, here is a bit of cool news for Devils fans everywhere to chew on. Taylor Hall was named the 41st best player (on a list of 50) in the NHL right now by the NHL Network.
He had previously been named to the list of the Network’s Top 20 Wings, placing 15th on that list.
Hall, who missed the majority of last season with injury, had career highs with 39 goals, 54 assists and 93 points and a plus-14 rating in his 2017-18 Hart Trophy-winning season.
Even with a bum left knee that finished his season prematurely last year, the left winger averaged a point per game with 37 points – 11 goals and 26 assists in the 33 games he did participate in according to the NHL’s website.
As with the list of top wingers, the key to Hall placing higher next season is health. Former Devil-turned broadcaster Mike Rupp said the “biggest thing is him being healthy. [With] him healthy, he’s going to dominate, he’s a huge piece. I think this is very fair to have him on the list where he’s at. He didn’t really play this year, he was injured. That’s still a very accurate thing, he’s still a heck of a player, and in a full season, I’m expecting him to be much higher on this list next year.” The quote came from the show but was transcribed on NHL.com.
For Hall to remain on these lists when he was injured for most of last year says not only a lot about him as a hockey player, but also his reputation. Rupp mentioned on the show that there were some questions when he was with Edmonton about his makeup, but he has shown since being in New Jersey that he is an elite player. That is evidenced by the Hart Trophy won in 2018, but also the job he did almost singlehandedly getting the Devils into the playoffs that season.
Hopefully he can stay healthy this year and get the Devils back to where they, and he, want to be: the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But in all of this talk about him having a bounce back year, you have to wonder how the contract situation will fit into everything. Every time the Devils go into a big market – especially in Canada – there will be tons of reporters on hand to ask him what his status is. This could become a distraction very quickly for the team and for Hall.
Whether he re-signs or not will remain to be seen, as will injuries. What he can control is how he plays when he is in the lineup and there, Hall has shown that he is nothing but professional and prepared. He should be ready to go this season to get to his ultimate goal of getting the Devils back into the playoffs and, should he remain here, help build them into Stanley Cup contenders.