Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall sitting out ahead of trade deadline
Buffalo interim coach Don Granato confirmed the move, saying 23-year-old Arttu Ruotsalainen could be ready to step up and make his NHL debut in Hall's absence.
"It's part of the business," Granato said. "We all know that. Taylor knows that. This game keeps you in the moment, and that's preparation for New Jersey. We had a good meeting on them this morning and our focus points and objectives going into the game. So there's enough there, enough intensity to keep you focused where you should be."
Hall, the 2018 NHL MVP, signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Sabres this offseason. The 29-year-old has a no-movement clause, but when asked last month whether he'd be willing to listen to trade options if approached by GM Kevyn Adams, Hall responded: "Yeah, sure."
The Sabres have been one of the league's biggest disappointments this season. After enduring an 18-game winless streak, the longest of the salary-cap era, and firing coach Ralph Krueger in March, Buffalo is poised to miss the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season. It is the NHL's longest postseason drought.
Hall has just two goals and 19 assists in 37 games this season, along with a career-worst minus-21 rating. He was traded from New Jersey to Arizona last season for a first-round pick, a third-round pick and three prospects; the Devils retained 50% of Hall's contract. Hall, an 11-year veteran who was drafted No. 1 overall by Edmonton in 2010, has appeared in only 14 playoff games.
The Sabres-Devils tilt will also feature another important forward sidelined for precautionary reasons: Kyle Palmieri, who was kept out of Sunday's game. Palmieri's agent, Brian Bartlett, confirmed the 30-year-old was sitting "in anticipation of a trade in the coming days or week(s)."
Palmieri, like Hall, is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Sources tell ESPN that the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche are among the teams interested in the wingers.