The Toronto Maple Leafs biggest move at the NHL Trade Deadline was passing on Taylor Hall.
Expected goals and analytics are an important part of hockey, but it’s not everything. Even though Taylor Hall’s analytics show that he’d be a great piece on the Toronto Maple Leafs, fans should be happy that the team didn’t pursue him.
The 29-year-old and former Hart Trophy winner is a fantastic hockey player. When he’s at the peak of his powers, he’s a top-15 player in the game. However, after a few years of bad luck and at a $8M cap-hit, the Leafs made a great decision, not to pursue him.
Don’t get me wrong, Taylor Hall would have helped this team. Having him paired beside John Tavares and William Nylander would have made them the best second-line in all of hockey, but if they went cold, they’d be colder than ice.
Hall and Nylander are a similar type of player, so paired beside each other would go one of two ways. Very well, or very bad. No disrespect to Hall, but Nick Foligno helps this roster in more ways than one.
Trading for Foligno Instead of Hall Was a Great Move
Taylor Hall is offensively gifted and can help in one facet. He’d be a skillful second-line left-winger, passing the puck to Tavares and Nylander, and would have been lethal on the power-play.
I understand that goals are the most important piece of hockey. If you score more than the other team, you win. Plain and simple. Even if you allow 10, it doesn’t matter if you score 11, so I understand the argument that skill over physicality is important.
However, the Leafs are fifth in the NHL is goals scored right now. They’re only eight goals back of first place in that category. This team has more than enough fire-power and the acquisition of Nick Foligno can help ignite more goals, as well as stop them.
Hall is a one-trick pony. He’s a very skilled pony, but he’s not the type of player you go to war with, whereas Foligno is.
Foligno was the captain of a team coached by John Tortorella, so the biggest attribute that he has is work ethic. When he steps on the ice, you don’t have to worry about whether or not he’s bringing his A-game.
Whether it’s a third-line centre role, a shutdown defender or skillful top-six forward, Foligno can help out in all situations. After seeing the emergence of Alex Galchenyuk and recent call-up of Nick Robertson, the Leafs can play Foligno anywhere they want.
Hall, on the other hand, would have been used strictly as a top-six forward. He wouldn’t have been used as a Swiss Army knife like Foligno can be, and wouldn’t have been as useful in the playoffs.
When you think of the Toronto Maple Leafs top-six and someone who’s the most valuable player outside of the core-four, you immediately think of Zach Hyman. Players like that are so important to your roster, based on their work ethic alone and Foligno is essentially just a more experienced version of Hyman.
Even when he’s not contributing on the scoresheet, he’ll be able to make an impact in other areas of the ice, and that’s unfortunately something Hall wouldn’t be able to bring.
Mark my words. Similar to how the fanbase loved Tie Domi, Darcy Tucker or currently Zach Hyman, Foligno will become a fan-favorite immediately after playing his first game with the Toronto Maple Leafs and he’ll be a huge piece come playoff time.
Taylor Hall, on the other hand, will be an average player with the Boston Bruins and will more than likely lose in the First Round of the playoffs.