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The Devils are “listening” to offers on Taylor Hall, and the Penguins should be talking..

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Can the Pittsburgh Penguins figure out a way to add the biggest fish on the trade market?

New Jersey Devils v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

In the ongoing and developing Taylor Hall saga this season, it looks like Devils general manager Ray Shero might be onto the next phase of his due diligence that could lead to a trade of the former MVP.

Hall is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. By all reports, while vague contract negotiations have been ongoing, they haven’t been extensive and Hall has kept his options open. Ten seasons into his career, he’s played in exactly one playoff series and it doesn’t look like that number is going to grow this season in New Jersey.

As Lebrun notes above, “listening” isn’t necessarily rushing to make a deal, but it is the prudent thing for Shero to do at this point. If he feels (or knows) that Hall is being reluctant to re-sign, Shero and the Devs’ can’t afford for Hall to be a 2020 version of John Tavares — a player who strung his former Islander team along only to opt to use his right to become a free agent and sign with a team he wanted to.

At this point, the Penguins should probably enter the picture. As we wrote earlier this week teams often hold ongoing trade talks for weeks and months at a time, as it was reported that Pittsburgh and Buffalo have been in communication.

So it figures that Jim Rutherford should probably reach out to Shero, if he hasn’t already. It wouldn’t be the first time Rutherford read that Shero wasn’t going to keep a star player and swooped in with a trade offer, since we all know back in 2012 when Shero was the Pens’ GM and had his best contract offer to Jordan Staal rejected, Rutherford made him a fair deal to bring Staal to Carolina.

The terms of that deal, as they often are trading a star player with a short contract, involve a somewhat desirable but lesser NHL caliber player, a first round pick and a prospect.

The name that makes the most sense for any PIT-NJD trade idea involving Taylor Hall would be Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk’s $4.9 million salary cap hit makes the math work to acquire Hall ($6.0m cap hit). Galchenyuk, 25, might have value to NJ to try out and possibly re-sign — especially if the trade is made pre-deadline and there’s a bigger sample to see what he does — or possibly flip him in a trade themselves.

From there, a first round pick is pretty self-explanatory. A trade to acquire Taylor Hall isn’t likely to go down without a 2020 first rounder involved. And now Pittsburgh has some interesting prospects for Jersey to consider. From 2019-first round pick Samuel Poulin to 2017-second rounder defenseman Calen Addison to 2019-third rounder Nathan Legare, Pittsburgh has an interesting collection.

Would they have to offer one of these prospects? Maybe even two in order to present Jersey with the best offer? That could be a question to consider for both sides if talks advanced to a deeper level, but seems a logical starting point.

With one goal in 17 games and demoted to a fourth line last night (partially made up of a defenseman), it’s clear Galchenyuk is in the Mike Sullivan doghouse. Galchenyuk only played one short shift in the third period against Vancouver the other night too. Which player has ever made it out of the Sullivan doghouse unscathed? It doesn’t seem like a long list of players who have grown on him once the coach has soured.

If that’s the case, the Pens need more skilled wingers. Bryan Rust and Jared McCann have been on heaters lately, and Jake Guentzel is a star — but to really be a championship level team Pittsburgh is going to have to have better production from their wings than what Galchenyuk has provided.

With Hall apparently inching more towards a trade at some point this season than any other option, it’s a perfect confluence of events for the Pens. It’s a star player in the prime of his career, who rarely come available, that is available. It’s a need to fill. Pittsburgh certainly has a GM to take advantage of opportunities when he sees them, and this one looks obvious.

Beyond that, depending on Hall’s objectives, staying in Pittsburgh long-term is probably something the team could accommodate. They’d had to shed salaries like Galchenyuk, Nick Bjugstad and Justin Schultz for next season, but that feels totally plausible. Especially with a Schultz-level replacement in John Marino on an entry level contract. Acquiring Hall early would give the Pens the ability to offer him an eight year contract extension, any free agent deal made on July 1 could only be seven years.

All of that talk though is a bit premature at this point. The reports coming out seem to continue to be pointing at an eventual trade by the Devils of Taylor Hall. They’re moving into the listening phase, which could be time for the Pens to see if Shero will have interest in the possibilities they can present.