Don’s deadline day begins with the biggest fish in the sea and also a neat little pilot fish for the price of a dangled Notre Dame pedigree and a pick.
As you’ve no doubt heard, Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar became Boston Bruins. But there is a lot of discussion about these players and what they will mean. There are plenty of narratives about one is and the other is, and the theories on what they are. So let’s dive in and really see what the B’s will be getting from this pair of forwards.
On the Surface...
While Lazar and Halls respective years haven’t been ideal in Buffalo (though really, what has?), both are...better than average for that team, let’s call it.
Hall has been criticized to hell and back for only having put up a pair of goals in 30 games. It’s been a big part of his year so far, and especially his last year in New Jersey where it seemed like all that MVP energy he had not a couple of years ago was completely sapped away from him.
Lazar meanwhile, while very injured, and that does suck for him, ended up with 9 points in 33 games, around what he had the previous year, and has been an otherwise stable presence on the Sabres even considering how much of a tire fire they are.
Under the Hood...
Here’s the thing you need to know about Taylor Hall: Hall creates goals, but he himself isn’t the goalscorer.
Hall has been a major contributor to the Sabres’ offense in the amount of playmaking he’s been doing, having what was at one point the Sabres’ team lead in assists, something that I’m sure has also been discussed frequently when discussing Hall and definitely wasn’t omitted so the narrative of this player being a goal-scorer that has fallen from grace instead of a playmaker being repeatedly misused could continue!
The underlying numbers of course, tell a much different story. While Evolving-Hockey’s chart shows he’s been more or less a decent second liner with trouble finishing (which is true), he’s been downright instrumental on getting the puck moving in the right direction for the Sabres this year;
- 2nd on the team in CF% (Shot Attempts-%)
- 2nd on the team in FF% (Unblocked Shot Attempts-%)
- 2nd on the team in xGF% (Quality of shot based on what kind it is and where it’s shot...%. It’s better to just called expected goals for for this reason.)
- 4th on the team in High-Danger CF% (Shot attempts but spicy)
- Notably attacks the slot, which is something the Boston Bruins do not do for reasons as of yet discussed.
- Is one of the best transition players in the league
- Is probably one of the best playmakers currently going
And for the record, the only player who’s been better at getting attempts at the net for the Sabres this year is Jack Eichel. So yeah, good player. Maybe crazy unlucky, and just not the guy narratives want him to be.
Lazar as a player is probably better known for his culinary habits than anything specific about his hockey, but can provide a decent valuable defensive depth...kinda like...oh man.
Pour one out for Sabres fans because holy crap, that sucks.
So what does that mean for the Roster?:
Well, Dan did a much more comprehensive breakdown on what that could mean, so for Hall, it’s really up to Bruce on who needs it more because uh...both middle six lines could use somebody to jump-start their offensive production, especially David Krejci and Charlie Coyle, and I can’t think of anybody who could facilitate that better than Hall. Meanwhile, when Lazar gets healthy, he’ll likely help push the depth towards being better, if not actively taking a struggling player’s place. Both do something very good for the Bruins for a price that seems almost too good to be true.
And if this team gets 100%, no asterisks, hale and hearty healthy...I’d be a little excited. It’s going to take awhile, maybe even towards the end of the season...but it’s gonna be something.