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Hall says he wants to finish season, make playoffs with Coyotes

Forward can be unrestricted free agent July 1, hopes he's not moved before Trade Deadline

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Taylor Hall has been traded once already this season and the Arizona Coyotes forward has no interest in changing teams again before the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 24.

"I want to make the playoffs with the guys here," Hall said. "I don't want to go anywhere else."

The Coyotes (29-24-8) hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference following a 3-1 win against the Washington Capitals at Gila River Arena on Saturday. The Coyotes are tied with the Calgary Flames, who hold the first wild card, and are three points ahead of the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets,.

Even after defeating the Capitals, Arizona has four wins in its past 16 games (4-8-4) and there were some questions recently about whether it might consider moving Hall, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, if it falls out of a playoff spot before the trade deadline.

Video: ARI@MTL: Dvorak, Hall team up for nifty goal

A TSN report last week put some of that to rest, stating Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo is willing to keep Hall for the rest of the season and risk him leaving as an unrestricted free agent. The report said Meruelo, Coyotes general manager John Chayka and Hall's agent Darren Ferris had dinner together in Montreal on Feb. 9 and reaffirmed plans to delay contract talks until after the season.

That has been the intention since Hall was acquired from the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 16 and the 28-year-old said again Saturday that discussions about his future beyond July 1 will wait until after the season. In the meantime, he wants to remain with the Coyotes and help them reach the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

"I want to play here for the rest of year," Hall said.

Hall said the transition in the two months since he was traded to the Coyotes has been a smooth one. 

On the ice, his 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 26 games since the trade lead Arizona. And in the locker room and away from the rink, the Calgary native feels at home.

"Everything has been great, besides the winning part," Hall said. "That's basically the only part that's missing over the last couple weeks, but the guys are great, the coaching staff's been awesome, and Arizona is a great place to live. It's been really fun just kind of getting into a new city, getting acclimated with a new group of guys. These guys have a lot of fun. They have a lot of fun playing hockey and it's been fun enjoying that."

Video: ARI@SJS: Ekman-Larsson nets goal after Hall's pass

Unlike when he was traded by the Edmonton Oilers to the Devils on June 29, 2016, Hall had to change teams in the middle of the season, which he says was easier in some ways. He flew immediately to join the Coyotes for a road game against the San Jose Sharks the day after the trade and assisted on defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson's winning goal in a 3-2 victory. 

"I was traded and the next night I was playing a game across the country, so you don't really have a lot of time to think about a lot." Hall said. "You just kind of go play and worry about getting the house and all that stuff later on. But the off-ice stuff, they made it super easy on me to just come in and play and not worry about that."

Hall credited the Coyotes with helping him find a place to live within 7-10 days of the trade, which also helped with the transition.

"That's a big part of it," he said. "Just off ice, you get traded or you get called up or sent down or whatever it is, you want to feel comfortable away from the rink and they did a great job of that. They made it so easy to just worry about what I have to do at the rink and all the other stuff was taken care of."

Although Hall has been with the Coyotes for two months, he's already emerging as one of their leaders and coach Rick Tocchet has relied on him heavily. Hall's average of 19:03 in ice time is the most among Coyotes forwards since the trade.

"For him, his play is going to lead, doing the right things on the ice, in the gym, things like that," Tocchet said. "I look for those things [from] leaders, too."

The No. 1 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Hall has played in the playoffs only once in his nine seasons in the League, when the Devils qualified in 2018. He was a big reason New Jersey made the postseason for the first time since 2012 and won the Hart Trophy voted as the League's most valuable player that season when he set NHL career-highs with 39 goals, 54 assists and 93 points.

Video: ARI@DET: Hall unleashes a laser top shelf

Hall is drawing now on that experience, including a stretch drive when the Devils went 10-3-1 in their final 14 regular-season games to earn the second wild card into the playoffs from the East.

"There with 14, 15 games left, we had the hardest schedule in the League, a lot of travel, and we made the best of it," Hall said. "We won games that we had to, and we salvaged points when we didn't have our A game and we made the playoffs on the second to last night of the year. So, anything can happen if you have faith in what you're doing and you believe in yourself, believe in your teammates.

"There's a lot of hockey left to be played. That's probably the most important thing to remember."

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