The Buffalo Sabres are holding forward Taylor Hall out of Tuesday's game against his former club, the New Jersey Devils, in the latest sign that the winger is likely to be moved by the April 12 trade deadline, according to ESPN's Emily Kaplan.
Hall has underperformed this year with just two goals and 17 assists in 37 games, but the 29-year-old doesn't have much talent around him. The Sabres are 8-23-6, last in the East Division and coming off an 18-game winless streak.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman noted Hall's removal from the lineup doesn't exactly mean a trade is all but finished. It's more likely the Sabres want to keep one of their most valuable assets sidelined rather than risk any injuries.
With a week until the deadline—and a few teams still on the bubble of becoming contenders—more suitors may emerge for Hall, who should be used to being in this position by now.
If the 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick is dealt again, he'll be joining his fourth team in the last three years after stints in New Jersey, Arizona and Buffalo. He spent the first six years of his career with the Edmonton Oilers before the Devils pulled off a stunning one-for-one trade that sent Adam Larsson to the Oilers for the Calgary, Alberta, native.
Hall recorded at least 50 points per year in six of his first eight seasons, but hasn't topped 40 points in a year since 2017-18, when he tallied 39 goals and 54 assists en route to winning the Hart Trophy as the league MVP. He remains a magnificent playmaker and a useful tool on the power play, but it may take a team loaded with talent to help him rediscover his scoring touch after being targeted by defenses the last few seasons.
The left wing signed a one-year, $8 million deal with Buffalo this offseason that included a no-movement clause, but he has signaled a willingness to waive that in recent weeks as the Sabres have plummeted out of contention and into an historic losing streak.