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Fantasy: Hall should be game-changer for Devils

New Jersey acquires top-line anchor to boost forward group

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / Fantasy Insider

The New Jersey Devils offense just got a facelift.

The Devils acquired left wing Taylor Hall from the Edmonton Oilers in a trade for defenseman Adam Larsson on Wednesday. Hall, a high-volume shooter and elite fantasy forward, had 65 points (23rd in NHL) and 286 shots on goal (sixth) in 82 games this season. His total of 53 even-strength points was tied for ninth in the League.

Hall, who has four years left on his contract, ranks 19th in points per game (0.86) among players with at least 350 games played since entering the NHL in 2010-11. The speedy wing scored a career-high 80 points in 2013-14, an offensive realm unknown to the Devils in recent years.

New Jersey has not even had a 60-point scorer since Jaromir Jagr in 2013-14. It also has not had a player with more than 30 goals in a single season since Ilya Kovalchuk (37) and Zach Parise (31) in 2011-12. Hall has never scored 30 goals in a season, but has come close with 27 twice and 26 this season.

Video: F Taylor Hall traded to New Jersey for D Adam Larsson

Hall, the first pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, has finished among the top 40 overall assets in Yahoo in two of the past three seasons. He ranked 37th overall in 2013-14 and 38th in 2015-16. In 2014-15, he was limited to 53 games because of injury and finished 226th in Yahoo. Injuries, as always, are out of a fantasy owner's control.

He played mostly wing in Edmonton but has been experimented with at center in the past. Last season, Hall played on a line separate from Oilers rookie phenom Connor McDavid, instead flanking Leon Draisaitl for most of the season. Each position is on the table with Hall moving to New Jersey.

Hall remains a top-40 forward after the trade and his presence should have a sizable ripple effect on his potential Devils linemates ahead of fantasy drafts. Much depends on the position Hall ends up playing and who he skates with, but the fantasy value of the Devils forwards under contract at the moment has spiked considerably.

If Hall plays left wing in 2016-17, the potential beneficiaries at center are Adam Henrique, Travis Zajac and sleeper Pavel Zacha. Henrique and Hall have existing chemistry from their time playing together for Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League. If Hall plays center, he could potentially line up next to Michael Cammalleri and/or Kyle Palmieri to form an elite point pair or trio.

Cammalleri, who played left wing but was plagued by injury this season, scored nearly a point per game (38 points in 42 games). The Devils also had a pair of 30-goal scorers in Palmieri (led team with 57 points), who could become a restricted free agent July 1, and Henrique, who was second in the League in shooting percentage (20.1) among players with at least 63 games played. Each will rise in the fantasy top 200 after this development.

Zacha, 19, played one NHL game at the end of this season, and it was quite the sneak preview; he had two assists and three SOG. The 6-foot-3 center was better than a point per game for Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League (64 points in 51 regular-season games; 13 points in seven playoff games) before being recalled by the Devils. He's a sneaky playmaker and deep fantasy sleeper who could make an immediate impact as a rookie next season, especially if he's playing alongside Hall.

As for Larsson, any potential fantasy impact hinges on whether he quarterbacks the Oilers' first power-play unit with McDavid and Co. If he has potential on the power play, it's untapped.

Larsson, 23, averaged 22:30 of ice time per game this season but rarely played with the man-advantage (0:10 per game). Because of minimal power-play usage in his Devils career, Larsson has never had more than 24 points in a single season and has four power-play points in 274 career NHL games. That said, he could be worth a late-round flier if we get any inkling between now and training camp that Oilers coach Todd McLellan envisions Larsson in an offensive role.

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