Grading the Bruins trade for Taylor Hall

Mar 16, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Taylor Hall (4) skates against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Taylor Hall (4) skates against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
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If you went to bed early Sunday night, you missed out on the big trade deadline news for the Boston Bruins.

Don Sweeney was working the phones into the late hours on Sunday, finalizing a deal to bring in Taylor Hall from the Buffalo Sabres. The Bruins also received forward Curtis Lazar, while sending the Buffalo Sabres Anders Bjork and a 2021 second-round pick. Buffalo also agreed to retain 50% of Hall’s $8 million salary.

For the Bruins, they get a left-winger for David Krejci on the second-line, in addition to a depth forward to help round out the bottom-six. Hall only has two goals and 17 assists in 37 games for Buffalo, but his teammates that he’ll have in Boston should be a major upgrade from those he had in Buffalo.

For the Sabres, they get a player that never came into form in Boston, but has shown flashes to be a solid contributor on a second or third line, in addition to another draft asset.

Who wins the Hall trade – Buffalo or Boston?

This is about as easy of a decision as making Patrice Bergeron the new captain. It’s the Bruins and it isn’t close.

A near consensus reaction to the trade was Boston did not give up a ton. Most importantly – they did not give up the first-round pick. Sweeney had been rumoured to be wary of giving up that pick, after a history of giving out first-round picks at the deadline, but he held onto it and still was able to get Hall.

Because the Bruins did not give up that first-round pick and only had to give up Bjork, a guy who was on the outs anyway in Boston, it’s an extremely low-risk, potentially high-reward deal. The fact that Buffalo retained half the salary is the cherry on top for Boston.

At worst, you get a rental that even during one of his worst years still has the potential to be a threat offensively and gives Krejci the best option on winger he’s had all year (minus the recent games with David Pastrnak sliding down to the second line).

Or, Hall improves offensively with a better team and better linemates and helps the Bruins make a run for the Cup this season. Boston can work on an extension and keep Hall around for longer. Either way, Boston is showing it’s going all-in by getting Hall with only a couple more seasons left of the core group.

Now for Buffalo … let me say this. If David Savard and Nick Foligno hadn’t been traded for first-round picks just hours earlier, there’s not as big of an uproar. Hall’s trade value was at an all-time low, it made zero sense for the Sabres not to move Hall so their hands were tied and getting a second-round pick would have still been a win for Buffalo.

However, when you see guys like Savard and Foligno, who don’t bring nearly as much to the table as Hall, it’s very easy to point fingers at GM Kevyn Adams and ask what are you doing. How do you not get at least a first-round pick for Hall? I imagine Hall’s no-trade clause was what handicapped Adams a bit. With Hall having the final say where he would go, the negotiation tactics for Adams had to be adjusted.

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But for Buffalo, it gets at least something for a player who was going to walk this summer. There’s a chance Bjork turns into an everyday NHL player, and there’s still the second-round pick. It’s two solid pieces for a team still trying to rebuild. However, it’s hard not to wish they could’ve gotten more for one of the top trade deadline targets.

Final Grades

Boston – A

Buffalo – C-