The Buffalo Sabres have landed one of the top free agents, signing Taylor Hall to a short-term deal at one-year for $8 million.
Hall is coming off the final year of a seven-year deal he signed back in 2012, earning $6 million a year.
Hall Wanted to Make Winning a Priority
Hall was one of the marquee names heading to free agency. Before the free agent period opened up, he was keen on making winning a priority and that money wasn’t at the forefront given the current cap situation many teams are facing.
Hall has seen quite a bit of disappointment in his career. Despite recording 328 points in 381 games with the Edmonton Oilers, Hall failed to make the playoffs. After being traded to the New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson in 2016, he went on to win the Hart Trophy in his second season with the Devils after an impressive 93-point season in 2017-18. He would also make the playoffs for the first time in his career that season.
After undergoing knee surgery and missing most of the season in 2018-19, Hall produced fairly well on a poor Devils team in 2019-20. He recorded 25 points in 30 games with the Devils before being dealt to the Arizona Coyotes where he went on to post 27 points in 35 games. Things seemed to be going right for Hall as he made the playoffs for the second time in his 10 year career.
After being punished for violating the combine policy, the Coyotes are now facing serious financial issues as well as a lot of uncertainty right now. For a player like Hall, this seemed like something that he didn’t want to be a part of. In addition, the Coyotes don’t have any cap space remaining after signing Tyler Pitlick and Johan Larsson and re-signing Ilya Lyubushkin and Kyle Capobianco.
Going to the Sabres seems counter intuitive as the team has struggled the last few seasons, much to the dismay of franchise centre Jack Eichel, who has stated his frustration with how things have gone.
What the Sabres Will Get
Hall signing with the Sabres took the hockey world by surprise.
There’s no doubt that the Sabres added an extremely talented point producing winger to their roster. They had the cap space to do it and having a first line of Hall- Eichel- Reinhart seems like a line that can do a lot of damage offensively. They are getting a Hart Trophy winner with a lot left in the tank, albeit it is only for a season.
The Sabres forward depth has come into question the past few seasons. Jeff Skinner hasn’t played like a $9 million player after scoring 40 goals and 63 points in 2018-19. Their defense is still a work in progress and their goaltending remains the biggest question mark.
There’s the possibility that the Sabres could surprise some teams. Adding Hall makes their top line more lethal than before. It seems like a great signing for the Sabres…not so much for Hall as winning is still at the top of his list.