The Bruins made arguably their biggest trade in years late Sunday night.
Boston acquired forwards Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar from the Sabres in exchange for Anders Bjork and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.
In Hall, the Bruins are hoping to add scoring depth to a team that’s lacked consistent scoring outside of its top line. Hall has mostly provided for the four teams he’s played for, scoring 220 goals over his 11-year NHL career.
Here are five things to know about the new Bruin:
He’s been rumored to become a Bruin for over a decade.
Bruins fans who’ve been following every rumor surrounding their team would know that Hall coming to Boston was a long time coming.
The Hall-to-Boston rumors started before the left winger even played in an NHL game. When the Bruins won the No. 2 pick in the lottery preceding the 2010 NHL Draft, a months-long debate began on if the Bruins should hope the Oilers select Tyler Seguin so they could get Hall or vice versa. Each brought a unique skill set, with Hall showing higher upside as a goal scorer and Seguin showing potential to be a top line center.
Ultimately, the Oilers selected Hall, leaving the Bruins with Seguin.
The 2010 Draft wasn’t the last time Bruins fans discussed Hall potentially joining their team, though. Hall hit the trade market in 2016, but was ultimately traded to the Devils. He was again on the trade market in 2019, but after months of speculation, the Devils shipped him to the Coyotes.
Hall became an unrestricted free agent for the first time in the 2020 offseason, with many thinking this would finally be the time that Hall would end up in Boston. Hall told reporters Monday he was “really close” to signing with the Bruins last offseason, but he opted to sign a one-year deal with the Sabres instead.
He was once represented by Bobby Orr.
When Hall entered the NHL, his agent was none other than Bobby Orr. And Hall’s a fan of Orr, too: Hall wore No. 4 in his OHL days through his time in Edmonton.
In the lead-up to the 2010 NHL Draft, Orr hoped his client ended up in the city where he became a hockey legend.
“Hall probably is the best player,” Orr said then. “Hall is the best player. Although I do represent him, I can guarantee he’s a hell of a player. I don’t know if I’ve seen a kid compete like this kid competes – every night, every shift. To him, it doesn’t matter the score, he competes. He’s a heck of a player and I would obviously love to see him here in Boston, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen.”
Hall’s no longer represented by Orr and is now a client of Quartexx Management, which is the same agency that represents Patrice Bergeron.
He’s the first former MVP winner to play in Boston since 2013.
The Bruins organization doesn’t have much history with Hart Memorial Trophy winners over the last few decades. Joe Thornton is technically the only Bruin to win the award since the ’70s, but he won it after getting moved during the 2005-06 season.
Former MVP winners haven’t spent much time in Boston either. Jaromir Jagr is the last former MVP winner to don the Black and Gold. He was traded to the Bruins in 2013, 14 years after he won the award.
Hall isn’t nearly as far removed from his Hart Trophy win. Hall won the award in 2018 after scoring 39 goals and 93 points with the Devils. Hall was also named to his fourth All-Star Game that season and named to the NHL First All-Star Team. Hall was also named an All-Star the following season.
He’s in the midst of one of his worst seasons.
Hall wasn’t having the best of seasons in Buffalo.
In his lone season as a Sabre, he scored just two goals in 37 games. While volume stats are expected to be lower this season due to the shortened schedule, Hall’s adjusted total to account for an 82-game season is only four goals, which would be by far the lowest of his career.
However, there could be some optimism that a fresh start could lead to positive results. Hall played on a Buffalo team that’s by far the worst in the league this season, so far only accruing 26 points and at one point suffering an 18-game losing streak.
In just 35 games with the Coyotes last season, Hall scored 10 goals, showing signs that he can still be a reliable goal scorer. And while his goal scoring’s been down this season, Hall’s still chipping in with assists. His 17 assists this season led the Sabres and would be the fifth-best on the Bruins.
Either way, the Bruins could use any help they can get on offense. They’ve scored just 71 even-strength goals this season, which is the second-lowest in the league.
He doesn’t have much playoff experience.
For much of his career, Hall’s played on teams that haven’t had much success. Hall didn’t make the playoffs in the first seven years of his career.
In Hall’s six seasons in Edmonton, the Oilers were consistently among the league’s worst teams. Edmonton received the No. 1 pick three times after Hall was selected with the top pick in 2010, but that wasn’t enough to help the Oilers reach the playoffs.
It wasn’t until Hall posted the best season of his career in 2017-18 with the Devils when he finally reached the playoffs. However, Hall and the Devils were bounced quickly from the playoffs, losing to the top-seeded Lightning in the first round in five games. Hall put up two goals and four assists in the series.
Hall made it back to the playoffs last season with the Coyotes. He and the 11th-seeded Arizona squad knocked out the sixth-seeded Nashville Predators in the qualifying round, winning the series 3-1. However, Hall’s playoff stay ended shortly after, with the Coyotes losing to the second-seeded Avalanche 4-1. Hall again put up two goals and four assists in the playoffs.
Luckily for the Bruins, there’s plenty of playoff experience already on the roster.
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