News broke late on Sunday night that the Bruins had acquired Sabres forwards Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar in exchange for Anders Bjork and a 2021 second round pick. In a separate deal, Boston also acquired defenseman Mike Reilly from Ottawa. These three additions will all help the banged-up Bruins immediately, but it is Hall who could make or break the Bruins’ Stanley Cup hopes.
Hall was the first overall pick in 2010 NHL Draft, one spot ahead of where the Bruins picked Tyler Seguin. After six solid but not spectacular seasons in Edmonton, Hall was traded to the Devils and won the Hart Trophy (League MVP) in his first season in New Jersey. The Devils were far away from contention, however, and traded him to Arizona midway through his second season with the team. Hall had 52 points in 65 games during the pandemic shortened 2019-20 season, a good pace, but not at his previous MVP level. He signed a one-year deal with Buffalo this offseason and has been underwhelming on a bad team, scoring only two goals so far.
The Bruins will be counting on Hall to return to his level of play from 2017-18. He will play wing on their second line and will be the most talented winger David Krejci has had since Jarome Iginla in 2014. The Bruins have had unacceptably low levels of scoring from their second and third lines this season, with Krejci, Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk all struggling to score goals. There will be no excuses for a lack of production with Hall among that group.
For Hall, he is coming into the best situation of his career. The Bruins are a strong organization that has good leadership and is a playoff contender. Hall has only been to the playoffs twice and has totaled 12 points in 14 career playoff games. Boston will give Hall a chance to make a deep playoff run for the first time and it should reenergize him.
When the Bruins lost the Stanley Cup in 2019 and were eliminated easily in 2018 and 2020 by the Lightning, one of the biggest issues was a lack of depth scoring. The top line of Bergeron-Marchand-Pastrnak was largely held in check because opposing teams could focus all their resources on stopping that line. If Hall plays up to his potential, teams will have to deal with two good scoring lines from the Bruins and it will make Boston much more difficult to stop in a playoff series.
Don Sweeney made a bold move at the deadline. If Taylor Hall comes out of his Buffalo offensive malaise, the Bruins will again be a Stanley Cup contender. It is not without some risk, however, and Hall will have to contribute in a big way or the Bruins will not be able to overcome the NHL’s big boys.