By Spencer Lindsay | Follow me on Twitter @dispencer88
When the Bruins traded for former MVP Taylor Hall at the trade deadline, many fans and those in the media were not exactly sure what player the team was getting. Talks of “locker room cancer” swirled around, and a lot of talk about how he only had two goals in 37 games this season. Much of that talk was quickly quieted in Hall’s first few games, however, when there was visible chemistry between Hall, David Krejci, and Craig Smith on the second line. Hall posted an 8-6-14 on the scoresheet for the Bruins in his 16 games following the trade deadline. Suddenly there was much more optimism for the postseason, now that there was not an overreliance on the perfection line to do all of the scoring. The questions about Hall then transitioned from whether or not he’d be effective for the team but whether or not he would re-sign in the offseason. Following the team’s media availability today, it seems as though Taylor Hall is hinting towards a return to Boston this upcoming season, and maybe even one at a discount.
The top concerns many had about Hall were whether he wanted to be back with the team and if he did at what price? Today, there were multiple soundbites in Taylor Halls’s media zoom session that will be of interest to Bruins fans on those two points. When asked whether or not he sees a fit in Boston, he had this to say:
When asked on the follow-up question if he would be willing to take a discount to stay on a winning team, Hall again gave Bruins fans reason to believe he’ll be back when he said that a “good fit” is a higher priority for him at this point in his career rather than maximizing his value.
Staying in Boston
Another interesting piece to this puzzle will be the upcoming expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken. The Bruins would be smart to wait on a new deal for Hall and their other upcoming free agents until after the expansion draft. This is because NHL teams are only given a certain number of slots to protect players from being picked in the expansion. So if the Bruins wait to sign Hall (and other free agents) until after the expansion draft, they won’t have to use a slot on him. Based on some of Hall’s comments, there is some speculation that this is exactly what the Bruins and Hall intend to do.
Other Pieces in the Puzzle
The other important piece to Taylor Hall staying is likely the status of David Krejci. Hall and Krejci seemed to develop strong chemistry early on, and their line with Craig Smith on the other wing was buzzing at the end of the season. However, Krejci is also a UFA this offseason and whether or not the Bruins bring him back remains to be seen. Currently, Krejci is the highest-paid player on the Bruins roster, with a cap it of 7.25 million per season, though it seems likely that that number would come down significantly on a new deal. When Krejci was asked about his future, his answers were slightly more cryptic than Taylor Hall’s.
That doesn’t exactly sound like a guarantee that Krejci is staying. However, in a later comment, Krejci said, “I just don’t see myself playing anywhere else.” Getting Krejci re-signed may prove to be an important catalyst toward keeping Taylor Hall in Boston. The last piece of that second line is Craig Smith, who thankfully is not a free agent this upcoming season. When Smith was asked about Hall and Krejci, he had this to say:
Considering this, it is definitely going to be an interesting few weeks leading up to the expansion draft and free agency. The Bruins have a solid core of players and keeping most of that core intact while adding a few other pieces will be crucial if this core is to win another Stanley Cup before they all retire. Whether that happens or not, stay tuned.