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Hall eager to contribute for Coyotes after trade from Devils

Forward flies overnight from New Jersey to San Jose for Arizona debut

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

SAN JOSE -- Taylor Hall looked at flight options after the Arizona Coyotes acquired him from the New Jersey Devils in a trade Monday.

The problem was that the forward was in New Jersey, and the Coyotes' next game was across the continent against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Tuesday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSA, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV).

"I really wanted to play in the game tonight, so it was important to me to get here as quickly as possible," Hall said. "I ended up flying overnight."

 

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Coyotes minority owner Andrew Barroway sent a private plane for Hall, who arrived in San Jose at about 7:30 a.m. PT. Hall had breakfast, rode the team bus and skated for about 15 minutes with about a dozen of his new teammates, wearing a Sedona Red practice jersey and his new logo.

"I haven't played in over a week," said Hall, whose hadn't played since Dec. 10 because the Devils scratched him from two games as a precaution while waiting to make a trade. "I feel like it's a good time to get the first game out of the way. I'm here to contribute. I'm not here to be anything else but one of the guys, and hopefully we can go on a good run here."

Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said Hall probably would start on left wing on a line with center Christian Dvorak and forward Phil Kessel. He also said he would be crazy not to put Hall and Kessel on the flanks on the power play.

But Tocchet said Hall could play with center Nick Schmaltz or center Clayton Keller too.

"It could be anybody," Tocchet said. "We'll see. We'll start out this way. We'll go. But the thing with Taylor, I just want him to play his game. I don't want him to have to adjust to players. We'll adjust to him."

Tocchet said his head was spinning when general manager John Chayka informed him of the trade while he was coming off the ice at practice Monday, asking himself how he was going to use him.

The Coyotes are first in the Pacific Division but tied for 24th in scoring (2.63 goals per game). Hall won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in 2017-18, when he led the Devils to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 93 points (39 goals, 54 assists) in 76 games. He has 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) in 30 games this season.

Video: Hradek, Daneyko break down Taylor Hall deal

"He's great off the rush," Tocchet said. "He's a give-and-go guy, can play both sides of the flanks on the power play. He's got the breakaway speed. So we'll find some spots for him."

Coyotes players learned of the trade on the team plane before taking off for San Jose. Keller and center Derek Stepan each said they looked around, wondering if one or more of them would go to New Jersey. When they realized no one would, it was a feeling of relief and excitement.

The Coyotes traded nothing off their NHL roster for Hall and forward Blake Speers, giving the Devils three prospects -- defenseman Kevin Bahl and forwards Nicholas Merkley and Nate Schnarr -- plus a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

Management made a statement of belief in this group, and the Coyotes have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

"For two years here, we've had mostly the same group of guys," Stepan said. "We've done a lot of hard work to try to build this thing into an opportunity to be in this spot to add like this. I think [Chayka] did a great job of, you know, 'Hey, this is for you guys. You guys have worked hard, and we're going to get a piece that I think can even push us even further.' "

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