Taylor Hall – Why the Pittsburgh Penguins Don’t Need Him


Oct 15, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall (4) and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) skate after the puck during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pens won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Almost as soon as the Edmonton Oilers sacked coach Dallas Eakins, a story was leaked that star left-winger Taylor Hall was a disruptive influence. Naturally, the rumour mill then went into overdrive and has linked Hall with a move to pretty much most of the NHL. The Penguins were clearly going to be one of the teams to feature because of their well documented injury problems as well as being a major influence in the final destination of Lord Stanley next June. As much as acquiring Taylor Hall would be, on the face of it, an exciting prospect there are some major ‘showstoppers’.

Cap Space

At the time of writing, the Penguins have just under $3.6 million of cap space. With Chris Kunitz about to return to the team from injury, his $3.9 million salary will eradicate the space and then some. Taylor Hall’s $6 million salary cap hit would cause some rejigging by GM Jim Rutherford to be accommodated. It’s possible that a player would be traded away. It has been suggested that the defensive prospects could be used for this but, in light of recent performances, should be baulked at. Philip Samuelsson has already been traded, as part of the Rob Klinkhammer deal, and it would be remiss to further deplete the defensive prospects.

Disruptive Influence

“It’s not one player. It’s the collection of players that make up the sagging work ethic and lack of culture. But if you had to put a face on it, or a name to it, that name would be Taylor Hall.” – Darren Dreger (TSN 1050 Toronto)

Along with the Oilers coach being dispensed with, unsubstantiated claims of Hall’s less than exemplary attitude emerged. Although sacked coach Eakins has subsequently denied these claims, it is worth exploring the effects of a trade. Currently, the Penguins have fostered a positive vibe despite the constant adversity encountered through injury. The mix of rising to the challenge of overcoming adversity along with hungry young players filling senior players positions must be attributed. Coach Mike Johnston has a team with several key players missing holding the third best record in the entire NHL and games in hand to better that position. Bringing in Hall, even without the alleged ‘attitude’ issues, could have a negative effect on a finely balanced man-managed dynamic.

Line Changes

If Hall were to join the Penguins organization, which line would he play on? Does he play on Sidney Crosby’s line, effectively relegating Chris Kunitz permanently, or does he partner Evgeni Malkin? On one level, it would be a nice problem to have but in another regard it is just one more potential destabilizing effect.

Taylor Hall’s Agent

A slightly tenuous argument but Taylor Hall’s agent is the Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr. I don’t think that it would beyond the realms of reality to imagine that, should the Bruins be interested, Orr would be very persuasive in getting his charge to go to Boston.

Much has been written already about Taylor Hall and where he could end up playing, should he leave Edmonton. The Oilers won’t want to part with such a prized asset lightly but there current on ice issues suggest that changes need to be made. Perhaps trading Hall to free up cap space and then snapping up players to create a different synergy maybe the answer to their problems. Other teams may choose to add their views to the question on Taylor Hall’s future. I don’t think that the Pittsburgh Penguins should try to construct an answer without fully working through the issues.