When the Boston Bruins traded for Taylor Hall at the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline, they weren’t trading for a player performing at the level of League MVP. In fact, following Hall’s Hart Trophy-winning campaign in 2017-18, his performance seemed to steadily drop off, season by season, in New Jersey, with the Arizona Coyotes, and finally with the Buffalo Sabres. The drop-off didn’t appear too stark at first, but his consistent dip in point production appeared to hit an all-time low during his 37-game run with the Sabres during the 2020-21 season when he’d score just two goals and 19 points after signing a one-year, $8 million deal to join Buffalo that offseason.
Though Hall’s production may not have been where it once was, the Bruins felt that acquiring Hall was a move they’d benefit from. They’d ultimately pull the trigger on a deal that many considered to be a steal for Boston, and this was with the knowledge that Hall was already declining year after year. Fast forward to Hall donning the Spoked B on his chest, however, and a change of scenery seemed to be all Hall needed to once again find success in the NHL.
In Hall’s first 16 regular season games with the Bruins, he’d score eight goals and 14 points and appeared to be exactly the player they were looking for to pair alongside David Krejci on the team’s second line. A drop off in production in the playoffs – three goals and five points in 11 games, didn’t deter them from signing him to a team-friendly four-year, $24 million deal that offseason. Though Krejci left to play in front of his family in the Czech Republic that very same offseason, Hall would find nice chemistry alongside David Pastrnak the following season and would score 20 goals and 61 points in 81 regular season games. This was an important season for Hall as it marked the first time he’d score 20 goals, record upwards of 60 points and play in over 70 games since his Hart-winning season.
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Fast forward even further to Krejci returning to the Bruins this past offseason, and everything seemed to be falling into place perfectly. The top line would feature a combination of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk, while the team’s second line would feature both Davids (Krejci and Pastrnak), as well as Hall. Though this top-six has seen time together during the 2022-23 season, the Bruins have actually found themselves succeeding with Hall shifting down to the third line alongside Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic, rather than playing on the second line.
Hall’s Move to Third Line Paying Dividends for All
A move to the second line may seem like a demotion for Hall, but it’s actually led to a perfect storm for just about everybody involved. The third line received a legitimate star who excels as both a goal-scorer and as a playmaker, Pavel Zacha benefited from playing alongside his country-mates in Krejci and Pastrnak and the result has been the Bruins consistently winning games all season long.
As for Hall’s production, his role on the third line (and lowest average time on ice in a season of his entire 13-season career at 16:02) hasn’t seemed to be an issue at all. Instead, Hall has actually shined as a result and is having a career resurgence. Tied for second on the team with 13 goals, as well as a tie for second on the team with 27 points in 33 games, Hall is on pace to score 32 goals and 67 points. These totals would mark just the second time he’d reach the 30-goal mark, and the fifth time he’d reach over 60 points. This is even more impressive given that Hall ranks 13th on the team and seventh among forwards in terms of average ice time this season (among players with a minimum of 20 games played).
This on-ice production has been nothing short of star-caliber from Hall who has also seemingly found a way to stay healthy over the past two seasons; this is something that has plagued the 2010 first-overall selection throughout his NHL career. Injuries do happen and the Bruins are no strangers to playing with a next-player-up mentality. Fortunately, though, they haven’t had to consider this very much with Hall as he has been as durable as it gets since putting on a Bruins’ sweater.
The Bruins have gotten a very well-rounded performance from their team this season and Hall’s production hasn’t been discussed as much as it probably should be. The season isn’t quite halfway done yet, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Bruins are for real and the production they’ve gotten out of their players doesn’t appear to be an anomaly at this point. What you see is what you get, and the Bruins are showing up every single night to play for each other and for the fans.