The Hurricanes added some depth to their bottom-six today by acquiring forward Adam Hall off waivers. Hall has been in the league for 10 seasons and has spent the last four years with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has a few 10+ goals seasons under his belt, but his best assets are his defensive play and faceoff prowess. He will play his first game for the Hurricanes tonight against the team who just put him on waivers only 24 hours ago, which will make for an interesting storyline.
Hall is a very useful player but asking where he fits in the Hurricanes lineup is a good question. The Jordan Staal line handling most of the tough matchups means that the Hurricanes don't have much use for "shutdown forwards" unless they want to tilt the ice in their top-six's favor. This is why Andreas Nodl struggled to find a place in the lineup and was eventually sent down to Charlotte before he got hurt. Hall is somewhat of a comparable player to him, but does that mean he will suffer the same fate? Not quite. Hall has a few qualities that make him more valuable than your general replacement level player.
After the jump, we'll talk about what Hall can bring to the team and where he might fit in the Canes lineup.
Who is Adam Hall?
Hall is a veteran player who has been with seven teams over his career and has drifted back and forth between the NHL & the AHL in a few seasons. Hall can play both center and wing, but has spent most of his career on the left wing while being used as a faceoff specialist in a lot of situations. His ability to win a lot of draws is probably his best asset. He won nearly 60% of his faceoffs last season and was Tampa Bay's best faceoff guy this year, too. Personally, I think faceoffs are a bit overrated at even strength if a player can't drive possession but they are huge on the penalty kill, which is an area that Hall can also help at. He was one of Guy Boucher's most trusted penalty killers, playing over two shorthanded minutes per game and Kirk Muller will no doubt have some use for him there, as well.
Something that concerns me about Hall is that his underlying numbers aren't very good at all, but that may not be entirely his fault.
Stats courtesy of Behind The Net
Another thing that Boucher, along with Tampa Bay's other coaches, have trusted Hall with over the year is giving him the bulk of the defensive minutes. He was getting absolutely buried in the defensive zone this year, starting nearly 90% of his shifts in the shadow of his own goal. Even with more team adopting a zone matching strategy, that kind of offensive zone start rate is unheard of. Anyone who can keep their head above water with that kind of territorial disadvantage would be one of the top play drivers in the league and Hall obviously isn't in that category. With that being said, Hall has been able to post modest possession rates with tough assignments in years past, so he probably isn't as bad as his numbers indicate and I doubt the Hurricanes will bury him this much since there isn't much need for them to. Hall is also very good at drawing penalties, which makes him a welcomed addition to any team.
Where Does He Fit on the Hurricanes?
Hall played third line minutes for one season but he has predominately been a fourth liner for most of his career and I'd expect him to stay there on the Hurricanes. He and Tim Brent will probably rotate at center with Hall taking some extra defensive zone draws to help out the team's faceoffs. Hall definitely has a spot on the PK and can take over for Kevin Westgarth's spot in the lineup for the next few games, but what happens when Chad LaRose and Tuomo Ruutu return?
That's when things get dicey, but the struggles of Bowman & LaRose have given this team depth issues at forward, so adding another body into the mix is not a bad thing. Bringing in Hall could serve as a purpose to wake up Bowman, since they need to play better than they have this season. We've seen both scratched before and Hall brings some versatility to the bottom-six so he might be able to push them for a roster spot if the Canes need to sit someone. He might even get some time on the third line if Bowman or Wallace struggle to do much since Muller has often rode the hot hand with the lineup decisions.
Another interesting situation here is that Chad LaRose hasn't played in two weeks since suffering a concussion, so it's possible that his injury might be more serious than just a "day-to-day" situation. Hall gives the Hurricanes 23 players on the roster and one of them needs to come out once Tuomo Ruutu comes back. An easy way to get around this is to put LaRose on IR to make room, but I don't think anyone knows what his status is right now. He's only listed as "day-to-day" but he still hasn't been skating in practice so this could be a long-term injury. This is where having Hall will be nice. He is a proven NHL veteran and gives the Hurricanes a better option for depth if another injury should occur.
How Muller plans to use Hall at even strength is anyone's guess, but having too much depth is never a bad thing and Hall can be useful as a defensive player in the bottom-six and as a penalty killer. He is also signed to a very cheap one-year contract and could be a potential bargain for the Canes if he fits in. Hall was a fan favorite in Tampa Bay because he did a lot of the "little things" and that should help him win over some folks in Carolina, too.