Struggling Devils hope to find answers vs. Canucks

The question undoubtedly will accompany New Jersey's Taylor Hall to Vancouver when the Devils meet the Canucks on Sunday afternoon.

Will the pending free agent left wing be willing to re-sign in New Jersey or would he rather test the market in pursuit of a Stanley Cup championship?

Hall, who turns 28 on Thursday, will be an unrestricted free agent on next July 1, and only the Devils can give him the maximum eight-year deal.

"I haven't even thought about it," Hall said last week when asked about free agency. "It's too hard to even rule out or in any teams at this point."

That leaves a handful of clubs who possibly would be willing to sign the Calgary native to a bigger deal than the seven-year, $42 million contract he brought with him from the Edmonton Oilers, his original team.

The Devils acquired Hall for defenseman Adam Larsson -- the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft -- on June 29, 2016.

Hall was the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, and the player-for-player trade appeared to be a one-sided one.

But Hall's time in New Jersey has turned from outstanding and award-winning -- he collected the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP in the 2017-18 campaign -- to fairly below-average play, considering the standard the star forward has set.

He has just two goals and 12 assists in 15 games on the season, and there is a sense of disappointment surrounding the Devils (4-7-4) after they acquired P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds and Nikita Gusev, plus added center Jack Hughes -- the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft in June -- to their roster.

Defenseman Sami Vatanen left Friday night's 4-0 shutout loss in Edmonton after taking an elbow to the face from the Oilers' Alex Chiasson. He did not return to the game and no update was given on his condition.

The Canucks have cooled off after a sizzling 8-1-1 stretch, sliding to 1-2-2 in their past five games after a 4-1 loss in Winnipeg on Friday night -- their ninth straight loss to the Jets.

Vancouver jetted back home for the Devils game while in the midst of a rough slate of games. The club is nearing the end of a stretch in which they will play seven games over 12 days.

Coach Travis Green said his squad's showing against the Central Division Jets was better than Thursday's 5-2 loss in Chicago, a game that saw the Canucks let the game slip away from them in the third period.

Defenseman Chris Tanev left after logging only 7:21 of ice time, and he was ruled out the remainder of the game with an upper-body injury.

But Tanev, 29, was back anchoring the rear guard in Winnipeg, and the Toronto native put in a 22-shift effort totaling 18:52.

"He's a warrior. If he's not really hurt badly -- something broken or something like that -- he's going to play," Green said.

Sunday's contest is also the second meeting between the Hughes brothers -- New Jersey forward Jack and Vancouver defenseman Quinn.

In the Oct. 19 meeting in Newark, N.J., Jack had the only tally in a 1-0 win, becoming the first NHL player ever to score his first career goal playing against his brother.

--Field Level Media
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