In what is expected to be a busy week for the Boston Bruins, the first free-agent domino fell Friday. After strong two months in Boston following a trade on April 11 from the Buffalo Sabres, Taylor Hall has signed with the Bruins on a four-year, $24 million contract that carries a $6 million cap hit.
Hall, who was acquired with Curtis Lazar for Anders Bjork and a draft pick, gave the Bruins’ top-six a jolt following the trade. In 16 regular-season games with Boston, he had eight goals and six assists, before adding three goals and two assists in 11 playoff games. Last offseason, Hall signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Sabres and had two goals with 17 assists in 37 games. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was able to get Buffalo to retain $4 million in the trade.
In 11 years in the NHL, Hall, who was the first overall pick in the 2010 Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, has played in 680 career regular-season games with 228 goals and 368 assists for 596 points. He won the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2018 with the New Jersey Devils after posting 39 goals and 54 assists in 76 games in leading the Devils to the postseason. Other teams were reported to also be interested in signing Hall, but in the end, he decided on returning to the Bruins before hitting the open market on July 28.
Fit With the Bruins
Hall will slot right back in on the second line with Craig Smith on the right side, but the middle is still a question mark. David Krejci is also an unrestricted free agent and there are questions as to whether or not he will return for a 16th season in Boston. Following the trade in April, Hall, Krejci, and Smith supplied the Bruins with secondary scoring and solidified the top-six. Even more impressive, in 200 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time with Hall, the Bruins outscored their opponents, 15-1.
Boston is Hall’s fifth team he has been a part of since entering the league. At 29 years old, he has only been to the playoffs three times, but re-signing with the Bruins who have a window for a championship run, he should be very motivated and is an extremely talented player.
Boston Still Has Work to do
Following the Bruins’ elimination in the playoffs in the second round at the hands of the New York Islanders in June, Hall and Sweeney both mentioned that there was interest in him returning. The signing of Hall is the beginning of what Boston hopes are adding pieces to make a run at the Stanley Cup.
With Hall now under contract for four more years, Sweeney has more work to do. Re-signing Krejci to return to the Bruins top-six return is at the top of that list. If Krejci does not return, then Sweeney has to figure out if Charlie Coyle, who played part of the 2020-21 season injured, is healthy enough to slide up behind Patrice Bergeron as the No. 2 center, or does Boston have to look in free agency to fill Krejci’s spot?
The Bruins also have decisions on defense as they would like to add a top-four, preferably left-shot, defensemen, while also figuring out what to do in goal with Tuukka Rask who is also a free agent. Rask is scheduled to undergo offseason surgery and it could keep him out until January or February of 2022 should he re-sign. They also would like to give their bottom-six forwards a different look heading into next season, but that is something that can be done internally without spending big in the free-agent market.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.