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Hall wants Devils to upgrade roster heading into last year of contract

Hart Trophy winner can become unrestricted free agent

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Taylor Hall wants to see the New Jersey Devils improve more sooner than later as he contemplates his next move.

The left wing, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2020, said the Devils need to acquire more top talent to become a perennial Stanley Cup Playoff contender. It's something Hall, who has participated in five playoff games in nine NHL seasons, including the past three with the Devils, is very passionate about. 

"There is only so much patience you can have at this age," the 27-year-old said. "The League is getting younger and Father Time is undefeated. You only have so many years left, so for me to be done halfway with my career and to only have played five playoff games is disappointing. You want to try to make up for that. It's a huge part of it, but you want to be cognizant of the process and not go chasing after the wrong situation.

"That's stuff I have to think about and I really haven't done that, so we'll see what happens. It's hard but I want to win for sure."

Devils general manager Ray Shero, who signed a multiyear contract extension with the Devils on Monday, knows surrounding Hall with better talent is his mandate if he has any chance at re-signing him. 

 

[RELATED: Shero signs multiyear extension to remain Devils general manager]

 

Shero said adding more talent is his top priority this offseason during Devils' exit meetings at Prudential Center on Monday.

"I know we need more talent and what we did at the NHL Trade Deadline is a way to do that because now we have 10 draft picks (in the 2019 NHL Draft) so we're well positioned to take advantage of that whether it's through trades or if there's something in free agency," Shero said. "I share in that belief with [Hall] and appreciate his honesty."

Shero traded pending unrestricted free agent forwards Brian Boyle (to the Nashville Predators) and Marcus Johansson (Boston Bruins), defenseman Ben Lovejoy (Dallas Stars) and goalie Keith Kinkaid (Columbus Blue Jackets) for two 2019 second-round picks, a 2019 third-round pick, a 2020 fourth-round pick, a 2022 fifth-round pick and defenseman Connor Carrick (from Dallas) prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25.

Hall called this season one of his toughest he's endured; he missed the last 47 games of the season and needed arthroscopic surgery to remove "loose fragments" in his left knee in February. The Devils (31-41-10) finished 29th in the NHL and missed the playoffs for the sixth time in the past seven seasons.

Video: OTT@NJD: Hall whips home power-play goal

"We have the culture and character in our locker room but at this point in time, in my opinion, we lack some talent in positions," Hall said. "Whether it's the players on our team getting better and improving, or from the outside. Certainly, when you finish 29th, you're lacking some skill and lacking some talent. The great part is we have a culture in our locker room that's fun to be around and conducive to success and hard-working people. Now it's about filling those gaps where we might have lacked this season.

"At this point I've enjoyed being a Devil and being around my teammates. The conversations about my future will happen."

Hall said his rehabilitation is going well and he hopes to resume skating in June and be ready for training camp in September. 

Acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Adam Larsson on June 29, 2016, Hall has one season remaining on a seven-year, $42 million contract he signed with Edmonton on Aug. 22, 2012. He won the Hart Trophy last season in leading the Devils to the playoffs, where they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Shero said he doesn't have a timeline on when a new contract could be done with Hall but that discussions will be ongoing over the next couple of months. Hall can sign a contract extension of up to eight years with the Devils starting on July 1, 2019.

"With this injury, we haven't been able to talk so that's going to happen this summer," Hall said. "I'll go back home, sit down with my parents, my agent, and discuss how I'm feeling going forward. I think right after the season, whether you played or not, is probably not the best time to assess your future because there's so much that could happen over the course of the summer, with the NHL Draft, free agency, and your own health."

Shero said, "Taylor is about information and I want him to have that. Our relationship is very transparent but it's important for him to understand why he would re-sign beyond next year. It's easy for me to tell him my belief in ownership, but he's a smart guy. He knows what we have for draft picks and what we have for talent. We certainly missed him this year and not only on the ice ... he's a passionate kid. Once we have time to digest things we'll sit down and kind of have those discussions."

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