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Golden Knights take notice as Arizona trades for Taylor Hall

I wouldn’t term it a massive shake. There is no chance of a Richter scale overheating. Think more along the lines of a noticeable tremor.

But make no mistake: The Golden Knights, along with the rest of the Western Conference, felt it.

You don’t have one of the NHL’s elite forwards, a former Hart Trophy winner, move into your side of the ledger and not notice. Taylor Hall raises the antenna. He causes you to pause and assess.

He will be calling Arizona home for at least the remainder of this season, the veteran star and impending free agent traded to the Coyotes from New Jersey on Monday for a package of assets best described as quantity over quality.

Arizona got Hall to make a possible push at the Stanley Cup while not having to part with any current rostered players or either of its top two prospects.

That’s called, in the moment, winning a trade.

The Knights on Tuesday night had more pressing concerns, like not losing to Minnesota again.

They didn’t, claiming a 3-2 victory before an announced crowd of 18,220 at T-Mobile Arena, just the second win in seven meetings for Vegas between the teams.

If you fell asleep reading that last sentence, you know what it’s like watching the Wild play.

It could have been worse for the West when it came to the Hall trade: He could have gone to Colorado, and think of the nightmare matchups that would have presented opponents.

But if him landing with the Coyotes doesn’t totally shift the balance of power in the conference, it absolutely makes things more intriguing atop the Pacific Division.

Suddenly, if you were buyers all along in the Coyotes being legitimate contenders, such belief should now be even stronger.

“His offensive game is one of the best and his speed and playmaking ability opens up a game,” said Knights defenseman Jon Merrill, who played with Hall in New Jersey. “He’s one of those players you need to know where he is on the ice at all times. At any moment, he can take the puck and break loose.

“We pay attention to news around the league, but we’re pretty happy with what we have in our room. I don’t know if it changes anything for us mentally or makes us feel like we need to make a move. They’re a tough, well-coached team. (Hall) makes them better.”

I bought the Coyotes before this trade. They’re good enough in net and at the blue line to stay in a race over 82 games. I never have Edmonton, which you could score on, or an improved but not overly special Vancouver side.

Calgary has come alive and appears to be playing a lot harder now that Bill Peters resigned as coach, hardly a surprise.

But if Merrill is correct about Hall’s explosive skill (he is), he’s also right in suggesting the Knights have no reason to react.

At least not yet.

Coyotes need scoring

Vegas, the division’s best all-around team, is still rightly favored to win the Pacific. Arizona is better defensively and in net than the Knights, but there’s a reason it made such a push for Hall.

It needs scoring, tied for 24th in the league with a 2.53 goals average.

Hall, who in his first game with Arizona on Tuesday night assisted on the game-winning goal in a 3-2 final at San Jose, has 537 career points.

You do the math.

“(Arizona) got a real good player and didn’t give up anything on its roster,” said Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt. “When that happens in your division, you need to be aware of it. It seems like there are a lot of good players out there right now, part of an arms race.”

You would think the Knights might eventually join it and add defensive depth, more likely a trade deadline move than the sort Arizona made now.

The Coyotes went all-in here. Good for them.

The Knights should definitely watch how Hall fits and continue to evaluate their own side, likely not good enough right now to win the Cup but also not in need of such a leaguewide headline to inch toward the level.

“A move like the one (Arizona) made doesn’t go unnoticed,” Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “You have to think it’s going to help them out.”

Taylor Hall raises the antenna.

Things out West — specifically in the Pacific — just got a lot more interesting.

Tremors can do that.

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @GoldenEdgeRJ on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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