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Dynamic trio could be Taylor made

by Mike Morreale

Hall skates with Henrique

Hall skates with Henrique, Smith-Pelly in camp

Taylor Hall was slotted with new linemates Adam Henrique and Devante Smith-Pelly on the first practice session of training camp on Friday

  • 03:59 •

NEWARK, N.J. -- Left wing Taylor Hall wants to bring speed and pace in order to be the player who can "tilt the ice" in favor of the New Jersey Devils this season.

Those were his words that resonated on the first day of training camp at Barnabas Health Hockey House on Friday when he skated on a line with center Adam Henrique and right wing Devante Smith-Pelly.

Hall, 24, acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Adam Larsson on June 29, is happy to return to the ice with a purpose. It's an opportunity for him to become familiar with his new teammates and, more importantly, allow him to focus on what he does best.

"I want to have fun and enjoy this," Hall said. "I think you forget sometimes that it's a game. The best way to simulate with my teammates and get used to the coaching staff is to just go out and play. I think all that other off-ice stuff and learning systems comes gradually. My mindset is to just go and play, have fun, read, react and stay healthy."

At media day Thursday, Hall said, "I still hold a bit of resentment towards" the Oilers for making the trade, but understands it is a business. His teammates in New Jersey are in his corner.

"I think he's handled himself well and I saw the comments he made [on media day]," forward Michael Cammalleri said. "I think we all have human emotion and feeling, and it's good to embrace them, acknowledge them and understand them. I think we have a motivated player [on our roster]."

Cammalleri, incidentally, was on a line with center Travis Zajac and right wing Beau Bennett, who was signed to a one-year contract on July 1. Cammalleri, who was limited to 42 games last season with an inflamed tendon in his right hand, declared himself healthy and ready to go.

Zajac was sad to see Larsson go, but understands it is rare to get a player of Hall's caliber.

"Losing Adam was tough," Zajac said, "because you lose a friend and he'll be a great D-man in this League and he's going to help Edmonton, but on the flip side when you get a player like Hall, it's pretty special.

"You can't find those players everywhere. He adds a new dimension to our team with his talent. He's one of the top players in the League, so he can come in, start fresh and lead this franchise for a number of years."

Perhaps Hall will even rekindle the junior hockey magic he once had with Henrique for Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League. Hall and Henrique won back-to-back Memorial Cup titles in 2009 and 2010, combining for 78 goals and 183 points in 2009-10. They combined for 37 goals and 60 points in 19 OHL playoff games.

Henrique joked when asked how the Devils might be able to produce more offensively 5-on-5.

"Just get the puck to Taylor," he said.

Hall led Edmonton in scoring three of the past four seasons, and was among the Oilers' top three scorers in each of his six NHL seasons. Last season, he had 65 points (26 goals, 39 assists) in 82 games.

"I'm not going to put a number on the number of goals [I want to score], but certainly 30 is a nice number," Hall said. "I've never reached 30 before. But you look at what Kyle Palmieri and Henrique did last year in getting to 30, and the power play was a big part of that. If I work hard and simulate what they both did on the power play, hopefully I can find the back of the net."

Hall said he has always kept tabs on Henrique since the two went their separate ways after 2009-10 in Windsor.

"It's been six years since we played together," Hall said, "but I've kept an eye on him and he's turned into a very good NHL player, a center that a guy like me would be lucky to play with. Hopefully as preseason moves along, we can get some chemistry and keep that going."

Henrique said he admires the way Hall reacted to the trade.

"I think he handled it just like anyone would have; it was a shock to everybody and I think him and Larsson included," Henrique said. "It's something I haven't had to go through so it's tough to say, but it's great to have him here. I talked to him after the trade and obviously I offered any advice he needed and tried to make him feel comfortable. It's a big adjustment, but I think he's going to be just fine."

Hall was asked if he were aware the Devils host the Oilers on Jan. 7 and then travel to Edmonton five days later.

"Yes, I knew because someone told me," he said. "But that's a long time away. By then, enough time will have passed and I will have played enough games where I'll have bigger fish to fry, for sure. But it'll be interesting."

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