TORONTO (Mar. 18) — If, as he implied on Tuesday, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas is willing to part with a top prospect, would “renting” Taylor Hall from the Buffalo Sabres be a sensible move?
Without hesitation, my answer is yes.
In fact, Dubas may have already inquired about Hall with Buffalo counterpart Kevyn Adams, who will likely not hesitate to unload an expiring contract. Among players in that category on teams that are out of post–season contention, Hall ranks near the top. Neither should it require a complicated transaction for the Leafs to land Hall. Offer the Sabres Nick Robertson and the trade gets done. Yes, there is risk involved in unloading the club’s second–round pick from 2019, a 55–goal shooter in Junior with Peterborough, but Toronto’s top forwards — John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander — provide sufficient firepower and are entrenched in lengthy deals. Acquiring Hall would accord Dubas the option of moving one of his big contracts this summer in order to sign the No. 1 overall pick from the 2010 National Hockey League draft (and Hart Trophy winner in 2017–18). Otherwise, Hall goes elsewhere after providing the Leafs another gifted component in their quest for a long playoff march in 2021. He would smartly round out the club’s top two forward lines, joining Tavares and Nylander behind the trio of Matthews, Marner and Zach Hyman. Hall’s presence would also allow coach Sheldon Keefe to pace veterans Joe Thornton and Wayne Simmonds, who should not be positioned among the top six forwards in a Stanley Cup marathon.
PHOTO BY JEFFREY T. BARNES / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Given how Leaf prospects are habitually (sometimes comically) overrated by fans and media, this straightforward, one–for–one deal would probably spark a local referendum. What if Robertson goes on to score 35 or 40 goals for Buffalo long after Hall has left Toronto? But, such a question routinely arises — in any sport with any team — when trading part of the future for something established. The accent, here, should not be “what might Robertson accomplish down the line for the Sabres?” but, rather, “can Hall provide the 2021 Maple Leafs forward balance they otherwise would not possess?” If Dubas answers affirmatively to the latter, and is truly “all in” on this edition of the Blue and White, there’d be no reason to avoid pulling the trigger.
Boston is also said to be interested in acquiring Hall, still 29, so the Leafs may have to act swiftly.
Hall obtained a full no–movement clause when signing his one–year, $8 million contract with Buffalo, but only a bout of delirium would preclude him from waving the privilege. If the Sabres want Robertson badly enough, they could be enticed to eat half of Hall’s remaining salary after the Apr. 12 NHL trade deadline. The Leafs would be on the hook for just more than $900,000; Dubas and cap wizard Brandon Pridham would somehow manage to accommodate that sum, particularly to shore up the club’s left–wing position. Hall has stumbled this season, registering only two goals and 16 points in 28 games, but he’s played for arguably the worst team in Sabres’ history. A change of scenery and a playoff challenge would likely do him wonders.
STILL IN PLASTIC
A serious collector of hockey cards will tell you these boxes, even though in their original plastic wrap, aren’t worth a ton of money given the volume of such items in the early–1990’s. As I reorganized an old Army trunk of memorabilia this week, however, I realized the boxes date more than 30 years. If, in 1990, you had an undisturbed box of Topps hockey cards from 1960, you could have sold it for a small fortune. Not so the early–90’s cards today… unless I’m mistaken (and, please let me know). I will keep them safely stored, in case the value increases in years to come. The boxes are colorful and rather neat to look at. So… here they are:
The Bowman Gum Co. (1927–56) produced baseball cards that were popular in the 1940’s. The company was acquired by Topps in 1956. The first two sets of Bowman hockey cards appeared in 1990–91 (above) and 1991–92 (below). According to one website, the rookie card of Sergei Makarov (1990–91, Calgary Flames), in mint condition, is worth $120.55 USD. A Mario Lemieux mint item from 1991–92 is listed at $37.37 CAD.
Pro Set was a Dallas–based company, founded by Ludwell Denny in 1988. In February of this year, Leaf Trading Cards assumed control of the brand. Above, are the first three editions of Pro Set hockey cards — two boxes (blue) from 1990–91 (left); boxes from 1991–92 and 1992–93 (right).
Score hockey cards first appeared in 1990–91. I have two boxes (top–left) of the “Rookie and Traded” set from 1991–92. The Upper Deck Company first issued hockey cards in 1990–91. I have the 1991–92 set, in its wrapping (top–right), with Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman and Mark Messier on the box cover.
The O–Pee–Chee Company of London, Ont. was founded in 1911, issuing trading cards until 1996. Hockey cards were first issued in 1968–69, the year after the NHL doubled to 12 teams. The final O–Pee–Chee hockey edition was in 1994–95. I have full O–Pee–Chee sets from 1973–74 onward, packed away in three–ring binders. The 1992–93 set, a 25th anniversary edition of 396 cards (above), is still in its original wrap (the season Doug Gilmour had a Leafs record 127 points). It was the third–to–last set produced by the company.
The 1991–92 sets of Score Pinnacle (top–left) and O–Pee–Chee Premier (right).
The 1994 box of Parkhurst Parkies (re–print from 1956–57) sold recently for $90.00 CAD on icollector.com.
OUT OF PLASTIC
BUT CARD PACKS NEVER OPENED
I still have 1989–90 and 1991–92 boxes of O–Pee–Chee hockey cards (above) with corresponding unopened packs (below). I’ll assume the bubble gum has gone a bit stale in the past three decades.
A box of Score 1991–92 Series 1 unopened hockey packs (top–left) and the O–Pee–Chee 25th anniversary Factory set from 1992–93 (top–right), in a black–and–silver box.
The 1990 OPC box (with Al MacInnis on the front) is actually from the 1989-90 season. (In those days OPC released their sets early in the new year as opposed to the counterpart Topps sets that were probably released in October/November of the given season.)
That set included the usual crop of 80s/90s future HOFers (Gretzky, Lemieux, Yzerman, Messier, Bourque, etc) and the rookie cards of Joe Sakic, Brian Leetch, Theoren Fleury and Gary Roberts among others. The unfortunate thing was OPC basically turning the presses on and leaving them on. Hockey cards, like the rest of the card market at the time, were becoming high in demand so OPC obviously had to meet that demand. As such the card prices of those aforementioned stars and rookies are really depressed compared to what they might have been. (Had Sakic’s rookie card been produced in the ’88-89 OPC set- the one that included rookies of Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan and Pierre Turgeon- it would have been one of the hottest cards in the hobby, especially during the Avalanche Cup years!)
The Parkhurst “Parkies” set was known as the “Missing Link” set as, for whatever reason, the original Parkhurst company failed to make a set in 1956-57 after having made them since 1951. As such it was a fantastic effort to create the set as it may have looked based on previous 1950s Parkhurst sets. It included all the Original 6 greats of the day with photos that had to be no later than 1956. They also wrote up bilingual biographies on the reverse including stats through the 1955-56 season. The boxes may hold value a little better as there is potential for authentically autographed “chase cards” in the packs. Many of those players are now deceased.
Ah, good ol’ Pro Set! Yep, bought quite a bit of it. (I had a friend at the time whose father was an early investor with Lud Denny at Pro Set. His bedroom was FILLED with Pro Set football cards!) The 1990 hockey boxes (the blue ones) may still hold one of 5000 Stanley Cup hologram cards. Who knows, maybe they’ve all been found in the 30 preceding years but they do go for hundreds if not thousands of dollars on ebay. There we also a variation card of the Nordiques’ Paul Gillis pictured with and without a bloody nose. I guess while hockey and blood go together, hockey CARDS and blood…don’t? Whatever the case the bloodied one was pulled early from production and now sells for $70-$100 on ebay.
Overall, yeah, your stash is from the overproduction era so even the HOF rookies you might find like Lidstrom, Selanne, Jagr, Fedorov, etc aren’t going to be worth too much. But I guarantee you a couple hours of cheap entertainment (something Toronto is NOT exactly known for) if you dive in and rip those boxes open. I hope you’d write up a blog post about it if you did!
(Sorry for the long response but I love me some hockey cards and have been collecting for over 30 years.)
Further to my earlier post: in order or recent to distant first rounders- that will be on the ice tonight:
If Leafs trade for Taylor Hall- they would have potentially 11 former first round picks playing on their roster. Not sure this is a good thing- although high on skill though. Of the current 10 players( I include Alex Galchenyuk who evidently starts tonight) that are former first rounders( I have excluded hurt or taxi squad first rounders from 2017 to present), 8 of these lads were top 5 picks. Only Nylander at 8th and Campbell at 11th pick overall- sit outside of this top 5 draft pick group. Hall as former first pick overall – would join Matthews, Tavares and Joe Thornton in that elite selection group.
I remember those 90’s hockey cards. It was fun to collect again and talk hockey with friends. They are ABSOLUTELY worthless, but that’s the way it goes.
You said, “I’ll assume the bubble gum has gone a bit stale in the past three decades.”
I’m curious – how could you tell? I couldn’t possibly get harder. The only gum ever made that could bite back.
“Worthless” is a bit of a stretch. A #Leafs player from that era asked to buy them from me today. 🙂
Howard, as you astutely pointed out in your last post, the Leafs do not currently have Cup level goaltending. Making a move for Hall would be a waste of assets. As much as it pains me, we are going no where this year (gasp). Far better deal for the Bruins who are a team that Kyle only dreams of assembling.
Early exit – again (gasp). Bye bye Kyle. Bye bye Shannaplan. Who’s in the on deck circle?
50 f@cking years of this. At least the Sittler, Gilmour and Sundin eras included playoff wins if not the cup.
What exactly have these clowns accomplished? Front office i mean, not the players. Lots of talk not much else. 7 years of nothing.
I do think the buds should be all in this year, but I’m not sure I would spend limited cap resources on Taylor Hall. He wouldn’t be my first priority for sure. If I was Dubas, I would go after a solid defenseman or two. After that, a dependable two way center. After that, maybe Taylor Hall. I’m actually surprised you suggest it, as he seems to be in that “shiny things” category that you have preached against in the past. Never has he been a defensively responsible player, and his production hasn’t been the same since his knee injury 3 years ago. He’s played almost every game this year and has 2 goals. Good players, even on lousy teams, still produce, at least at somewhat typical levels. For me, its a pass on Hall. More a question of addressing bigger needs than anything against the player.
Grit. They need grit, not gifted.