The Taylor Hall trade has worked out splendidly so far for the Boston Bruins. The East Division finalists gave up the below market price of a (late) second-round pick and ill-fitting young forward Anders Bjork to land the 2018 Hart Trophy winner, at 50% retention, and Curtis Lazar, with an additional year on his contract, from the division rival Buffalo Sabres. Lazar as a throw-in has been excellent in his own right as the anchor of the fourth line, but Hall has come back to life in Boston and has made a major impact on the club. Since he was acquired on April 12, the Bruins have lost just three games in regulation out of the 21 in which Hall has played, including the playoffs, and have just one loss by more than one goal. In 16 regular season games, Hall quadrupled his goal total and nearly matched his total points from 37 games with Buffalo, tallying 8 goals and 14 points. He then added two goals and an assist in the Bruins’ five-game upset of the Washington Capitals in round one. Entering their second round series against the New York Islanders, the Bruins have been in every single game since Hall arrived and are 3-0 against the Isles in that span.
Unsurprisingly, both sides are very happy about the current arrangement and have interest in an extension. The Bruins actually courted Hall this past off-season, but could not find a way to afford the winger. Even with his return to form in Boston, Hall will likely have a much lower market value as compared to the $8MM price tag paid by the Sabres for a one-year deal. Hall admitted as much to ESPN, stating “I don’t even know what my worth is right now, honestly.” That alone is an exciting sound byte for the Bruins, who would like to bring Hall back at a more manageable cost, especially with his center, David Krejci, also in need of a new deal. However, that wasn’t even the most notable part of Hall’s interview:
I do want to play here, not just for one or two more years, hopefully longer than that… I was eager to join a playoff team, I was eager to join somewhere that had good culture, and where winning was sustainable. Because I was looking for somewhere I could re-sign, not just the 20 games to end the season… I’ve been surprised at how much better it’s been than I even thought it was…It showed me how fun hockey can be… So hopefully it all works out.
After a career spent almost exclusively on poor clubs, the soon-to-be 30-year-old Hall is clearly enamored with the idea of remaining in Boston long-term, playing on a deep, talented roster and competing for a Stanley Cup for years to come. He seems intent on spending a substantial portion of his remaining playing career with his current club, and may even be willing to take a discount to do so. With top-six forwards Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Craig Smith all signed for years to come at below-market value, the likes of Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and Patrice Bergeron all considered likely to re-sign when their current deals expire, and young pieces like Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Jeremy Swayman in place, Boston isn’t going anywhere – especially if Hall signs long-term and maintains this production. Bruins President Cam Neely sees this potential as well, as he too expressed to ESPN that the team hopes to get a new deal done with Hall.
For now, the focus remains on the postseason; negotiations can wait. “I’m not worried about my contract right now, it’s something we’ll figure out in the summer,” Hall said. “I have much bigger things to worry about as a player, as a teammate.” If the Bruins continue to play as they have since the star forward was acquired, it’s fair to wonder how long this run could last and who could stand in the way on their path to a Stanley Cup. The Capitals were no match, the Islanders are up next.