NHL Free Agency 2020: Predictions for Taylor Hall, Key Stars to Be Available

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 18, 2020

Arizona Coyotes left wing Taylor Hall celebrates his goal against the Dallas Stars during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

Taylor Hall will likely be the most coveted NHL free agent when the offseason begins. 

The left winger is currently on his third NHL team, but if he is unable to lift the Arizona Coyotes to a postseason berth when the suspended season resumes, his move to the Western Conference side could be viewed as a disappointment. 

One of the most important factors in his free-agent search could be a team's ability to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Since joining the Edmonton Oilers in 2013, Hall has played in five playoff contests, all for the New Jersey Devils in 2018. 

Conversely, Alex Pietrangelo has participated in 83 postseason games and helped the St. Louis Blues hoist the Stanley Cup in 2019. 

The defenseman's experience and consistency in some of the major stat categories will make him a coveted target as well, but he may not leave St. Louis. 


Predictions For Top NHL Free Agents

Taylor Hall

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Hall's search for playoff hockey in Arizona might come up dry whenever the regular season ends. 

Before the 2019-20 campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Coyotes were fifth in the Western Conference wild-card race with 74 points. 

To reach a playoff position, the Coyotes would have to make up a four-point gap on the Nashville Predators and also fend off challenges from the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild for the second wild-card position.

While the goal is still attainable, Arizona did not leave the ice in great form after losing two in a row and three of its last five contests. 

If Hall is unhappy with failing to make the postseason yet again, he could attempt to find another new home. 

At the moment, the 28-year-old is making $6 million per year, and Matt Larkin of The Hockey News believes "he should command at least $10 million annually across seven years." 

The Ottawa Senators are projected to have the most cap space in the offseason, per Spotrac, while the Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres and Devils are all high up on that chart as well.

The problem with signing for any of those four teams is playoff contention. They are currently the bottom four teams in the Eastern Conference. 

Of course, a few additional moves to go alongside a potential Hall acquisition could turn around any team's fortunes, but the winger might be more intrigued by a franchise that is already winning. 

The Colorado Avalanche could fill that void, but they already have four players who make more than $6 million and just agreed to a long-term deal with Mikko Rantanen that pays over $10 million in each of the next three seasons. 

But the abundance of talent on the Colorado roster, and the cap space it still has available, could be of interest to Hall, who might join Nathan MacKinnon, Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog on one of the most talented rosters in the league.

Prediction: Colorado finds a way to sign Hall.


Alex Pietrangelo

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Pietrangelo has been a model of consistency at the point for the Stanley Cup champion.

With 16 goals and 36 assists this season, the 30-year-old has four consecutive campaigns with at least 10 tallies and 25 helpers. 

Pietrangelo is in the final year of his contract and making $7.5 million in base salary.

Unlike Hall, he has qualified for the postseason on seven occasions since 2012.

The Blues have $13 million in cap space to work with for next season, but that could change depending on which players stay and leave over the next few months. 

Keeping Pietrangelo should be one of the top offseason goals for the Blues, and it would not be surprising if the defenseman stayed there because that is the only NHL squad he has played for. 

St. Louis is also in position to contend for a Stanley Cup, as it holds the highest point total in the West with 94. 

The Blues could use their success as part of the negotiations to keep Pietrangelo, and if the two sides are able to come to an agreement, he could be one of the pillars of the franchise for a few more years.

Prediction: Pietrangelo remains with St. Louis.


Torey Krug

Winslow Townson/Associated Press

If Pietrangelo remains with the Blues, the market for Torey Krug could flourish.

The Boston Bruins defenseman could be the best player at his position available, but he may come at a steep cost. 

The 28-year-old currently has a base salary of $5.5 million and is one goal or assist away from recording his fourth straight 50-point season.

Krug, who has only played for the Bruins in his NHL career, could remain with the Eastern Conference side because it has $24.7 million in cap space available for next season.

Boston could be the best option for the Michigan native since it has the most points in hockey and most of its core will be returning for the 2020-21 campaign.

A team with ample cap space could come with an offer the Bruins are not able to match, but if winning is the most important thing to Krug, remaining in Boston might be his best bet. 

Prediction: Krug explores the market but eventually re-signs with Boston.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Hockey Reference.

Contract information obtained from Spotrac.