While the analytics folks are thrilled with the Craig Smith signing, many Bruins fans appear upset that the team hasn’t made a bigger splash.
After all, with a player like Torey Krug heading out, you want someone big coming in. It’s only natural.
Fortunately for that crowd, there are numerous reports/rumors that the Bruins are very much “in” on Taylor Hall, to the point where they’ve actually presented him with an offer.
3 years from Boston, 7 from Columbus https://t.co/rv5IucOR4v— Dominic Tiano (@dominictiano) October 9, 2020
On NHL Network, @FriedgeHNIC mentions Bruins among those interested in Taylor Hall.— Ty Anderson (@_TyAnderson) October 9, 2020
Sounds like the Boston Bruins presented Taylor Hall with a short-term contract offer today. There are other suitors. I believe he's still considering his options.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) October 10, 2020
Let’s get the usual caveats out of the way:
- These are rumors. Rumors can be sparked by truth, or they can come out of thin air.
- The rumors also mention that several other teams have offers out to Hall.
- None of the rumors mentions the Bruins being the front-runner for Hall.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way...LET’S SPECULATE.
Why would the Bruins want Taylor Hall?
Because he’s good.
His point totals were down a bit last season, with 52 points in 65 games split between New Jersey and Arizona. However, he was better than a point-per-game player in the two seasons before that, including his MVP-winning, 93-point season in 2018.
He’s also a left wing, and the Bruins could always use another scoring wing.
I could continue, but you already know why the Bruins would want Hall.
GM Don Sweeney was asked about Hall and Alex Pietrangelo today.
“We’re comfortable having conversations with the remaining free agents that we feel would help our club. I have not, full disclosure in this case, I have not had a discussion with Pietrangelo’s camp. We feel that our right side might not be the absolute best fit for our club. Very respectful for the player, an elite player in the National Hockey League. That’s not the discussion we’ve had. In regards to other players, we’re certainly engaging the interest on both sides of it and seeing what we can potentially fit in.”
If you want to read between the lines, Sweeney was asked about Pietrangelo and Hall, confirmed the team wasn’t interested in Pietrangelo, and went on to say they’re “engaging the interest” on “other players.”
Why would Taylor Hall want to play for the Bruins?
This marks the first time in his career that Hall is an unrestricted free agent.
The 28-year-old forward has been an elite talent for years, but remarkably, this past summer’s bubble hockey marked just the second time he played in the playoffs.
Given that he’s hitting the open market for the first time, you can’t blame him for wanting to cash in. However, given that he’s only made the playoffs twice, he has something else on his mind: winning.
“Any player at this stage in their career that has had the career that I’ve had, 10 seasons, only make the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs twice, that’s really what I’m after,” the 28-year-old said. “So we’ll see what happens there...but yeah, I’d say it’s pretty much all winning. I don’t think the money’s going to be what it was maybe before COVID or before the season, but that’s fine. I think we get paid a lot of money to play a game, and we’ll see what happens.”
It’s worth noting, of course, that we’ve heard this all before. Also, wanting to win doesn’t necessarily mean a guy will take a $1 million contract just to play for a good team.
However, if winning truly is important to Hall, then he’s likely going to be willing to take a little less money from a team with Cup potential as opposed to cashing in on a mega deal with a bottom-of-the-barrel club.
The Bruins are a good team. While they may not be THE favorite, they will be mentioned among potential Cup winners heading into next season.
They have a need for a scoring wing, and Hall would fit the bill.
Hall will be 29 in November. If, as Dominic Tiano mentioned above, the Bruins’ offer is for 3 years, Hall would be a few months shy of 32 when it ends.
That’d likely give him three real kicks at the can for a Cup, and he’d still be young enough to get a decent deal at the end of it. He’s likely willing to bet on himself that his performance in that short deal would get him another good deal when it expires.
For Hall, that temptation just might be worth the hit to the wallet.
How could the Bruins afford Taylor Hall?
At the peak of his open-market value, they couldn’t.
Hall’s last deal carried an AAV of $6 million, and he’d get a raise on the market. However, if winning is what matters to Hall, he likely knows he’d have to take a slight pay cut to get on a good team.
For the sake of argument, let’s say Hall agreed to take $7 million AAV.
Per CapFriendly, the Bruins currently have just over $12 million in cap space.
It’s important to remember that this is without signing Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk, and Jake DeBrusk. Obviously, if the Bruins bring in Hall, there’s really no way that all three of these guys come back.
With Hall a LW and the first-line LW slot pretty well occupied, DeBrusk may end up being expendable.
The Bruins could, for example, package DeBrusk with John Moore in exchange for a young defenseman; moving Moore’s contract would free up an additional $2.75 million in space.
Similar salary cap machinations could take place with any trade, be it Tuukka Rask, Brandon Carlo, Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, etc. There’s no way the Bruins could keep the same roster and still bring in Hall.
Simply put, the Bruins are going to have to let some guys go if they want to bring Hall to Boston. It’s just a question of whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze.
While most agree that bailing on DeBrusk wouldn’t be great, losing him to get three years of Hall and legitimate shots at the Cup with this “core” might be worth it.
If you trade DeBrusk and Moore, you have around $15 million in cap space.
If half of that goes to Hall, you’ve got the rest to split between Grzelcyk and Chara. Not the worst position to be in.
However, it’s important to remember that the Bruins need to give Carlo a new deal after next year, and give Charlie McAvoy a new deal the year after that. Foresight is important in the salary cap world.
Would it be easy to bring in Hall? No. But it also wouldn’t be impossible.
Because of that, the rumor mill will keep churning.
Let’s have fun out there!