By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Taylor Hall is a Boston Bruin. There is a good chance that if you have taken a trip on Bruins Twitter over the past month that you have seen those words and well, they’re correct. The 2018 Hart Memorial Trophy winner was brought into Boston the night before the NHL Trade Deadline as Boston General Manager Don Sweeney snagged him from the Buffalo Sabres for forward Anders Bjork and a second-round selection in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Since then, Hall has played in 16 games for the Black n’ Gold, scoring eight goals and six assists for 14 points – nearly a point-per-game pace for a player that scored two goals in 37 games with the struggling Sabres. Hall has a distinct role on this Boston Bruins team and he has been filling that role effectively. Playing on the left side of veteran centerman David Krejci and free-agent signing Craig Smith, who found his success in the second half of the season on the right side of that line.
If you took a dive back into Bruins games from earlier in the season, it becomes apparent that there is a clear change in how the Bruins are playing and a large part of that is because of Taylor Hall. David Krejci has been playing as a revitalized player and definitely does not look like a 35-year-old. He is seeing the ice as if he has drone footage above the ice and making plays that Bruins fans are used to him making on the nightly basis. As mentioned, Craig Smith has been scoring at a solid rate while making plays for his fellow linemates. Everyone is clicking.
With the success of the second-line that scored 19 goals in the 16 games they were together, the pressure that has been placed on the first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak has lifted immensely. Prior to the Hall acquisition, if the first line failed to score, there was a good chance the team was going to lose that game. Now, opposing teams have to be weary of the Bergeron line AND the Krejci line – a true dangerous top-six.
The 2021 Trade Deadline was on April 12th. Subsequently, the Bruins have the best record in the National Hockey League – going 12-4-1 (25 points) while scoring the second-most goals (58) of any franchise in the NHL during that span. Reasons for that are above, but to put it more simply – the Boston Bruins have confidence. Scoring confidence to be exact. That is something that just didn’t exist during the beginning of the campaign.
As many know, however, Taylor Hall is on an expiring contract. In the offseason, he took a chance on himself and signed a one-year, $8 million contract with Buffalo to play alongside superstar Jack Eichel. As hindsight would suggest, this didn’t work out for either party. In the trade to Boston, the Sabres retained 50% of Hall’s salary so the Bruins are only currently playing the 29-year-old winger $4 million for the remainder of the season. With the playoffs starting on Saturday, the biggest question within the Bruins fanbase has been if Hall will re-sign with the B’s and if so, for how much?
Show Me The Money
The answer to the first question should be a resounding “yes”. The Boston Bruins finally have a top-six that can keep opponents on their toes for a full three periods and it would be a shame to let Hall walk for nothing in free agency. In addition, President Cam Neely said earlier in the week that he’d “like to get something done” in regards to a contract extension and Hall also flirted with the idea of staying in Boston past the conclusion of the 2021 season.
If Taylor Hall extends in Boston, I’d expect it to be after the expansion draft that welcomes the 32nd franchise to the league, the Seattle Kraken, so the Bruins wouldn’t have to protect Hall and making it very unlikely that Seattle decides to claim him. It is also important to note the fellow Bruins that require new deals this summer. David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, Jaroslav Halak, Mike Reilly, Kevan Miller, and Sean Kuraly are all unrestricted free agents while Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, Trent Frederic, and Brandon Carlo are all restricted free agents. With the exception of Halak, Reilly, Kase and potentially Kuraly – I’d expect all of them to return.
According to BruinsCapSpace (@bruinscapspace on Twitter), the Bruins are projected to have just over $32 million in available salary cap this offseason to sign the players I listed above. Assuming both Rask and Krejci return to the team on contracts with less cap hit than their current one ($7 million for Rask, $7.25 million for Krejci), there should be enough money to bring everyone back including Taylor Hall.
Within the last year, there have been two players in particular that can be considered similar to Hall and signed recent contract extensions and could, in my opinion, be contract comparables.
MTL Brendan Gallagher (29yrs) – Oct. 14/2020, $6.5M/6yrs, 43pts in 59GP in 19-20
NYR Chris Kreider (29yrs) – Feb. 24/2020, $6.5M/6yrs, 45pts in 63GP 19-20
BOS Taylor Hall (29yrs) – N/A, N/A, 14pts in 16GP with BOS; 33pts in 53GP in 2021
Both Gallagher of the Canadiens and Kreider of the Rangers signed their deals at the age of 29 for six years at $6.5 million annually. Both of which were second or first-line talents that had a solid offensive role on their respective teams. However, the Bruins already have two of their top wingers signed past this year – Brad Marchand ($6.125M) and David Pastrnak ($6.66M). I don’t see Don Sweeney wanting to pay Taylor Hall more than both these players when they both have a larger role on the team.
In saying all that, my official prediction is a six-year, $36 million contract ($6 million AAV) for Taylor Hall in Boston. This is a very team-friendly contract that keeps all four top-six wingers under contract until the 2023-24 season when Pastrnak’s and Smith’s contracts expire. By then, the entire landscape of not only Boston’s salary will change, but most likely the NHL’s salary as well. Taylor Hall will get to stay in a winning atmosphere and finally gets to settle down after playing for now three NHL teams since 2018-19.
Do you want Taylor Hall to re-sign with the Boston Bruins? If so, what do you think he signs for this offseason. Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj!