The biggest trade domino has fallen in the wee hours of Monday morning, with the Boston Bruins acquiring winger Taylor Hall and depth forward Curtis Lazar from the Buffalo Sabres for forward Anders Bjork and a second-round pick.
This is the same Taylor Hall that was NHL MVP in 2017-18 and signed an $8-million deal with the Sabres over the summer. Was the market that poor or has Hall’s value really fallen that much? With just 18 goals over the past two seasons (playing for a trio of offensively challenged teams, mind you), the latter looks more likely at this point.
The deal is the first major move for rookie GM Kevyn Adams since the team appointed him as the boss back in the summer. And it’s one that comes with raw emotions for many Sabres fans because while Hall was undeniably having a rough year, the return makes you wonder if the Sabres could have gotten anything more out of the seven-time 50-point player.
You can’t sugarcoat it: Hall’s 19 points in 37 games has been a true disappointment in a year where the Sabres were hoping Hall and Jack Eichel would click in an enormous way. With no return for Eichel in sight, and with rumors of a Sam Reinhart deal on deadline day, the Sabres don’t have many key offensive pieces left and are primed for a big day at the draft table this summer.
Boston needed secondary scoring, with most of the team’s offense coming from the big three, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. The “Big Three” have racked up 51 of the team’s 109 goals in 39 games this season, and that includes David Pastrnak missing time with injuries, too. Nick Ritchie (10) is the only other Bruin to hit the 10-goal mark this season, so adding Hall to the fray is something that’s dearly welcomed. The hope is that Hall could find his old form while playing for a team that’s truly in the playoff hunt, something Hall has only done twice in an 11-year NHL career.
The Bruins’ aging core means the Stanley Cup window is closing, and Hall, in theory, could be a big part in Boston finding themselves on another long Stanley Cup run. But that’s partly dependent on Hall paging his play of the past and not what plagued him from missing the scoresheet often in Arizona and Buffalo. This is Hall’s fourth team since the start of the 2019-20 season and the results in that time have been rough. The Bruins need him to be much, much better in the coming weeks.
A late-season point rush for Hall had he remained in Buffalo would have been meaningless for the team’s playoff hopes and it was unlikely he would have remained in Upstate New York on his next deal, anyways. But if Hall does play to the level Buffalo expected out of him this season, matched in with the low cost it took for Boston to pry him away, it’ll add another level of suffering for a fanbase that has had more than its fair share over the past decade.
Especially since Boston and Buffalo meet up six more times this season – including this coming Tuesday.