Following a blockbuster trade (being called the “trade of the off season” by more than a few writers and commentators around the NHL) that sent him to New Jersey, Taylor Hall finally made his debut in front of Devils fans on Sunday.
Although not on the ice yet (that will obviously come in about a month or so), he was the focus of an event at Prudential Center on Sunday for season ticket members. There was a Q&A and even a special appearance by Devils goaltender Cory Schneider.
The number one overall pick in the 2010 Entry Draft was traded to the Devils by the Edmonton Oilers back on June 29 for defenseman Adam Larsson.
Hall told NHL.com that the rumors had been there for a while regarding a trade from Edmonton, but when it actually happened it kind of caught him by surprise.
For professional athletes, getting traded is always a difficult thing, especially when it is their first time being moved. But the Devils have tried to make things a little bit smoother for the goal-scoring left wing. General manager Ray Shero and head coach John Hynes picked him up on Friday when he arrived in New Jersey and took him out to breakfast. As Hall described to NHL.com, “with no disrespect to the Oilers, that he never had a coach come pick him up in his car, or a meal with a coach and general manager, and the experience went a long way to making him feel welcome.”
Another thing that has made the transition move a little better is having a familiar face already there on the Devils. Adam Henrique and Hall were teammates on the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, where they won a pair of Memorial Cups together. Henrique has been on the phone with Hall since the day of the trade helping to get him acclimated.
And there is some acclimating to do, definitely. Hall mentioned to the NHL’s website that he has to sell his home in Edmonton and find a place in New Jersey. And that is not all. As Hall put it: “Even driving along, the toll booth is a very foreign concept to me… But I really do mean it, change is good sometimes. You only grow when you’re put in unusual spots, and I’m excited.”
Hall did show some regret in not being able to help Edmonton in their quest to become a contender again and that he would not get to play in their new Rogers Place arena in a home jersey. But he was quick to move on to the Devils and their upside and that he is happy to help contribute to another team looking to recapture their past glories.
He said that the Devils are a little older and more mature and ready to win sooner. He mentioned the “older guys” like Mike Cammalleri and Andy Greene. He told NHL.com that they are already established in the NHL and are going to be “essential in bringing these guys along” referring to the younger players.
Hall also mentioned Cory Schneider as being a key part of the Devils hoped-for success. Schneider showed up at the event held to introduce Hall as a surprise guest. Cory mentioned that the team had “done a good job in the last couple of years of scoring by committee and playing as a group, but now when you have that game-breaking-type player, that’s something we haven’t had now for a couple years.” Schneider feels that while a defensive identity is great, having a player like Taylor Hall is a wildcard who gives other teams somebody “to really consider and game plan against.”
Taylor Hall is truly a game changer for the New Jersey Devils. His scoring ability (according to the NHL.com article he has 328 points in 381 NHL games played) puts him at almost a point-per-game clip. His offensive skills will give the Devils a new weapon to play with, something they have not had since Ilya Kovalchuk. In addition, his built-in chemistry with Adam Henrique should be a great asset for the Devils on and off the ice.