Tocchet pairing Taylor Hall with Kessel, excited for Coyotes’ big addition

Dec 17, 2019, 4:40 PM
Taylor Hall #9 of the New Jersey Devils looks on during warm ups before the game against the Chicag...
Taylor Hall #9 of the New Jersey Devils looks on during warm ups before the game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Prudential Center on December 06, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

You have to go back to the start of the millennium to find the last time the Arizona Coyotes had some serious offensive force, the 2000-01 season, the last year for Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk in the desert.

Ever since, the Coyotes have had some quality teams in the Valley, but none with goal scorers that produced high-level output.

Arizona defying that trend began this offseason when general manager John Chayka acquired Phil Kessel, and they’ve almost made it a certainty that the norm of lacking fireworks offensively will be no more after trading for former league MVP Taylor Hall.

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet likes what his team can do on the rush but wants more creativity and grind in the offensive zone to produce more goal-scoring opportunities. That’s where Hall fits in.

“That’s something he does very well,” Tocchet told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo Tuesday. “That’s what I’m excited about. We need those types of players, that give-and-go style, that will get to the net, that will draw people to him, that will get other people some chances.”

Hall, 28, had 39 goals and 54 assists for 93 points in his MVP season for the New Jersey Devils two years ago. He dealt with injuries last year and has 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) through 30 games this season.

The hope is Hall can draw more defensive attention to set up others, like Kessel, who has gotten off to a slow start scoring, with only seven goals and 19 points in 35 games.

Tocchet said he will pair Hall and Kessel together on Tuesday night in San Jose against the Sharks.

“He’s the type of guy that will kickstart other guys,” Tocchet said of Hall. “I think you’ll see some other guys start to score now because we’ve acquired him. That will really help.”

Kessel has been one of the most consistent goal scorers in the NHL this decade, scoring at least 25 goals in seven of his nine seasons through the 2010s.

Hall should help Kessel get back to that level.

“I think this is a time where Phil shines,” Tocchet said. “These last 40 (games), the crunch time. I think you’ll see Phil start to step it up a little bit.”

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