When the Boston Bruins were looking for forward help at the 2021 trade deadline, there was an opportunity that general manager (GM) Don Sweeney had. He had a chance to make a deal with the Buffalo Sabres and did not pass it up. He acquired Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar in exchange for Anders Bjork and a draft pick. After playing well following the trade, the Bruins signed Hall to a four-year contract and he has been good in their top nine.
After a 20-goal 2021-22 season, the Bruins were hoping to get that and then some from the first overall pick of the 2010 Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers. They were looking for more offensive production from him with Brad Marchand missing the first three weeks of the season recovering from offseason surgery. When the Black and Gold’s first-line left wing returned, Hall did what was best for the team and accepted his new role from first-year coach Jim Montgomery without a peep.
Taylor Hall’s 2022-23 Regular Season
It would have been very easy for a player of Hall’s caliber to take Montgomery’s move and sulk, but he didn’t. Instead, when Marchand returned, Hall went from the top six down to the third line with Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic. The reason was that the second line of Pavel Zacha, David Krejci, and David Pastrnak formed such a connection, it was impossible to break up a good thing. Hall, Coyle, and Frederic gelled well together and gave the Bruins three lines that were very productive.
“He is very accepting of the fact that I’m using him on the third line and we’re using him on the second power play because that is what’s best for the Boston Bruins,” said Montgomery. “I can’t say enough about his exemplary attitude.”
Hall finished the year with 16 goals and 20 assists in 61 games. He was well on his way to securing his second straight 20-goal season when he suffered a lower-body injury against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 25 in a 3-1 victory. He flew back to Boston in the middle of the road trip through Western Canada and did not play in another game until April 8. He played in three regular-season games before the playoffs to get his conditioning back without recording a point. Points were the least of Montgomery’s worries as getting him ready for the first round was the top priority.
Hall Produced Against the Panthers
After getting his game shape back at the end of the regular season, Hall was one of the best offensive players against the Florida Panthers in the first round. Marchand and Tyler Bertuzzi each had 10 points in the seven games, but Hall finished with five goals and three assists.
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He scored what was considered a garbage-time goal at the end of Game 2, but that was far from the truth. It was just the beginning for him. He opened the scoring in Game 3 just over two minutes into the game, then came up big in Game 4 with two third-period goals to seal a 6-2 victory that gave Boston a 3-1 series lead. In Game 5, he tied the game in the third period at 3-3 when he collected a loose puck in the slot and spun around, and beat Sergei Bobrovsky to force overtime. After that, the Bruins would go on to lose in overtime, then drop Games 6 and 7 to complete a historic playoff collapse as the Presidents’ Trophy-winners.
Hall’s Future in Boston
Hall is signed for two more years with a $6 million average annual value (AAV), but it would not be surprising to see Sweeney move him this summer. At 31 years old, moving him would clear some much-needed cap space and it is not a bad deal to move for a player that can still produce at a high level when healthy. Sweeney has already made it clear that the Bruins will look different next season and it’s hard to envision him as part of the next “core’’.
It’s not anything he’s done, it’s just that Bruins are going to look to go younger next season, and getting some assets, even draft picks in return to clear cap space is a way that Sweeney would like to go.