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FEATURE: Hall Enters Training Camp Excited and Ready to Roll

The star forward says there are no limitations as he takes the ice for camp with the Devils

by Chris Wescott TheChrisWescott / NewJerseyDevils.com

NEWARK, NJ - Taylor Hall is ready to rock.

"It's really fun to be back and be around the guys again," he said.

The 2018 NHL MVP is eyeing a return from injury, which cost him all but 33 games last season. And while it has been a long summer working his way back, he'll enter camp with no limitations.

Video: RAW | Taylor Hall on Devils Media Day

"For all intents and purposes, I'm just a regular guy in camp right now," he said.

While he feels good, training camp will be Hall's first opportunity to really gauge his progress.

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"I think I'm still going to feel even better than I do right now a month from now," he said. "It's just going to keep getting better. The one thing that is really hard to do in the summer is pushing yourself game-wise and put yourself in an uncomfortable spot. You try your best, but that's what camp is for, that's what the exhibition games are for, and I'm really excited to do that and feel confident doing that."

His goal is to play in about two exhibition games near the end of the team's preseason schedule.

"Just to get my bearings and get that game feel down," he said.

While he was recovering this off-season, Hall watched from afar as the "Summer of the Devils" unfolded in the hockey world. It all started with the club winning the NHL Draft Lottery.

"I was in a hotel room, just kind of on my phone talking to the guys and it's crazy," Hall said. "I didn't really expect it, but when it happened it's huge and anytime you're getting players like Nico [Hischier] and Jack [Hughes] it's a win for your franchise."

But Hall is focusing on the team not picking first overall again for some time.

"I'm hoping that we're picking in the '20s this June and not number one," he said. 

The club's other acquisitions, on top of selecting Hughes first overall, could help in that department.

Hall also watched on as Ray Shero and the Devils management team wheeled and dealed to bring in talents like P.K. Subban, Nikita Gusev, and Wayne Simmonds.

"It was a great summer for us, there's no doubt about it," said Hall.

"You know, a team like ours. we finished - I think it was 28th - so there were some upgrades that needed to happen and I think they've all been filled. But now, we play the games. Now, we see how everything fits, how guys can play in our system, and in who surprises. That's really what you're looking for, is guys that come in and play better than and you think or you guys think they will and I'm excited to see that."

On top of all the positivity surrounding the Devils this off-season, the storylines of Hall's recovery along with his contract situation have had their moments in the news cycle as well.

In Hall's mind, all the contract talk seems to be blown out of proportion, considering he still has this full year left.

"To be honest, it seems like both sides are okay with going into camp and into the season without a new contract," he said. "It's really only these last few years where this whole paranoia [started] about players playing the last season of their contract. We have a lot of time. I'm coming off a season where I played 33 games. I think from the Devils perspective and maybe from Ray's - I don't want to speak for him - I think they want to see me play, see how I do and see how I fit in with the team and I'm just as excited to see that as well."

Pushing contract chatter aside, Hall nears a return to action for the Devils and is setting his sights on big, but achievable goals.

"I think if we don't make the playoffs that's a huge disappointment for everyone," he said. "You know, that's a spot that we don't want to envision ourselves in and with the talent that we brought in and the upgrades and really the growth of our team, I think it's playoffs or bust."

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