“I’m not saying he is going to sign here, but I definitely think we’re a team he’s very interested in staying with,” Tocchet told the ESPN On Ice podcast this week.
The Coyotes acquired Hall from the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 16, 2019. The 28-year-old winger had 27 points in 35 games for Arizona before the NHL paused its regular season on March 12. In 65 games between the two teams, Hall had 16 goals and 36 assists. The league MVP in 2017-18, Hall becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason and was expected to be the most sought-after forward on the open market.
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“You’re talking about a guy who, before this, was going to make a ton of money,” Tocchet said. “With this whole pandemic, like he told me, he doesn’t want to go through another year trying to play on a one-year contract. He wants to get settled somewhere. So he’s got a lot of different options that he’s gotta weigh.”
Primarily, the coach said, Hall wants to sign with a team with whom he can win a championship. In 10 NHL seasons, Hall has only qualified for the playoffs once and has never won a playoff round.
“I look at Taylor, and I don’t think it’s always about the money. It’s about being comfortable in the situation. He wants to win. He hasn’t had [team success]. So he wants to be on a team that could win for the next five or six years,” Tocchet said.
Could that be the Coyotes? When the NHL season was paused, the Coyotes were not a playoff seed — although an expanded postseason tournament in a restarted 2019-20 season would make them one this summer. If so, that would be the first playoff appearance for Arizona since 2012.
Tocchet said he believes Hall has seen enough in Arizona to believe in what they’re building there.
“As an individual, what I like about him is that he’s obsessed right now with trying to winning. He wants to win so bad. And what is he willing to do? You always want to have that type of player on your team. So do I think we’re one of those teams in his group of teams? I think we are,” Tocchet said.
“I wouldn’t take us out of the running. Obviously, I’m biased.”