Following a tough win for the Wisconsin football team last weekend at home against South Florida, the Badgers head on the road to Northwestern for their first test of the Big Ten season.Meanwhile, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team has two games this weekend against Ohio State and Big Ten favorite Penn State. UW has started the season 10-1-0, and the pair of games will have big implications on the Big Ten title race.The Badger Herald sports section broke down on that and more in this week’s podcast.
After months of speculation amid a disastrous season in New Jersey, Devils general manager Ray Shero finally pulled the trigger by trading pending unrestricted free agent Taylor Hall to the upstart Arizona Coyotes. In the deal that also saw Blake Speers go to the desert, the Devils received three prospects, a 2020 first-round pick (top-3 protected) and a conditional third-round selection in 2021. New Jersey also retained 50 percent of Hall’s remaining contract, which expires on July 1. Hall, the 2018 Hart Trophy winner who turned 28 in November, is a former first-overall pick who began his career in Edmonton and was acquired by Shero for defenseman Adam Larsson in 2016. In his second year with New Jersey, Hall established career-best marks in goals (39), assists (54), and points (93), and he was critical that season in leading the Devils to their first playoff appearance since the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. He missed 49 games last season, however, and as the Devils failed to qualify for the postseason, questions regarding his future with the organization began to intensify. Although Hall has rebounded to lead New Jersey in scoring this season (25 points in 30 games), the Devils’ inability to get him to sign a contract extension, coupled with New Jersey’s terrible first half that led to the firing of head coach John Hynes, convinced Shero to open the phone lines and begin shopping his top performer. For Arizona, the move is just another example of the franchise strengthening its commitment to the community by adding more star power to their playoff-contending roster. Since 2017, GM John Chayka has shown a willingness to deal draft picks and prospects for high-priced talent. On Monday, he dipped into his prospect pool again, sending physical defenseman Kevin Bahl and AHL-tested forwards Nick Merkley and Nate Schnarr to the Garden State. Chayka also traded a first-round pick for the second time in three years.The prospectsKevin Bahl, defensemanAge: 19 | 6-7, 230 pounds | Left-handed | Drafted: 2018 (55th overall)The most defense-oriented defenseman for Team Canada for the upcoming world junior hockey championship, Bahl is a big body with a long reach who on occasion will display good mobility and skate the puck out of harm’s way. The Ottawa (OHL) defenseman owns a very hard shot but projects more as a shutdown type than a defenseman who can provide consistent offense.Nick Merkley, forwardAge: 22 | 5-10, 195 pounds | Left-handed | Drafted: 2015 (30th)A shifty, agile playmaker with a low center of gravity, Merkley has spent most of his pro career in the AHL (Tuscon) and when healthy, he has been one of Arizona’s most promising prospects. Unfortunately, injuries forced him to miss half of each of the last two seasons. This year, however, he looks healthy and ready for a full-time NHL role.Nate Schnarr, centerAge: 20 | 6-3, 180 pounds | Right-handed | Drafted: 2017 (75th)A versatile two-way center with size and strong stickhandling skills, Schnarr is a right-handed shot who starred for the OHL’s Guelph Storm, helping them win the league championship and a spot in the 2019 Memorial Cup. He can run a power play from the half-wall, but also has a hard shot if he mans the point. Schnarr is a very good penalty killer and wins big faceoffs in key situations. His skating is average, but his deliberate style suits him well and gives him the chance to carve up poorly-positioned opponents once inside the offensive zone.MORE: P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds could join Taylor Hall on trade blockGrading the tradeArizona: AThe Yotes can taste their first playoff berth since 2012. They sit in first place in the Pacific Division with 42 points and their 82 goals against is the second-lowest allowed in the Western Conference. Their attack has been more timely and opportunistic than it has been consistent, as they sit tied for 25th in shooting percentage (8.5 percent) and 5-on-5 scoring chances for (47.8 percent). Hall brings them a dimension they haven’t enjoyed in some time — an individual who can carry a line by himself while producing at close to a point-per-game rate. Arizona’s scoring by committee might work in the regular season but adding Hall ensures they have a bonafide star to lean on when the going gets tough. The fact that they were able to retain prized prospects Barrett Hayton and Victor Soderstrom, in addition to making New Jersey retain half of Hall’s remaining $6 million salary, makes the move even sweeter for Coyotes fans.New Jersey: C+You rarely win a trade when your team is in the doldrums and you are forced to move a star with an expiring contract. This was the situation Shero was in and while some might say he got the best deal available, the truth is that he’s had 37 draft picks since 2016 and is in desperate need of NHL-caliber support or anything resembling a goalie prospect — or both. Instead, he got three B-level prospects and a potential late first-round pick.The only team in the organization which benefits from this move is the AHL affiliate in Binghamton. Long-term, the biggest prize of this deal is the first-round pick with opinions on Bahl’s upside all over the place. Shero’s probably glad the deal is done and the team can move forward with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier leading the way; unfortunately, he couldn’t trade his megastar for high-upside goal-scoring prospects who would compliment them.