The biggest prize on the trade market has been snapped up.
Taylor Hall has been traded to the Boston Bruins from the Buffalo Sabres, as first reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports the Sabres are also sending Curtis Lazar to Boston in exchange for Anders Bjork and a second-round draft pick.
Hall waived his no-movement clause in order to facilitate the trade, a condition he worked into his contract upon signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Sabres in October 2020.
This is an unqualified success for the Bruins, having landed a former Hart Trophy winner for a fraction of the perceived cost. Hall was in the midst of a down year with the Sabres, posting two goals and 19 points in 37 games, but his underlying numbers – a 52.84 Corsi For percentage, 53.03 Fenwick For percentage and 52.76 expected goals for percentage – suggest he’s still a high-end player stuck on a team incapable of generating offense, and the anemic Sabres certainly fit the bill.
Hall’s 2.3 shooting percentage is also certainly due for some positive regression and if he starts scoring in bunches, the Bruins benefit from figuring out that Hall’s poor production is somewhat of an anomaly.
By all accounts, and it appears to be consensus at this juncture, the Sabres were taken for a ride here, and received next to no return on value, even for an expiring contract like Hall. Buffalo’s previous regime was terrible at extracting return on value and it doesn’t appear that first-year general manager Kevyn Adams understands that concept all too well, either. Boston didn’t have to give up any of its top prospects – namely forward Jack Studnicka, or emerging goaltender Jeremy Swayman, who has now graduated to the Bruins in April and shown some promise in an admittedly very small sample of three games.
Hall will likely slot in beside David Krejci and Karlson Kuhlman on Boston’s second line, bumping Nick Ritchie further down the lineup, although Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will likely confirm his line combinations after meeting with the media when the deadline formally wraps up.
Boston previously engineered one of the best deals of the deadline, having acquired Mike Reilly from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick. Reilly was undergoing a breakout season for the Senators and like Hall, his contract expires at the end of the season, with the Bruins almost certainly ready to negotiate a long-term deal that constitutes an upgrade on his $1.5M AAV salary. Ahead of Sunday’s flurry, Boston held over $6 million in deadline cap space and we can’t imagine how it could’ve possibly spent it any better.
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