This off-season, the Boston Bruins have some decisions to make regarding the second line and uncertainty is in the air with contracts.
First up: Taylor Hall.
Hall came to Boston at the trade deadline. The Bruins dealt Anders Bjork and a second-round draft pick to the Buffalo Sabres for both Hall and Curtis Lazar. Hall made it known that he wanted to come to Boston and there were talks to make it happen before the season started. During his 16 regular-season games in the Black & Gold, he registered eight goals and six assists.
Hall produced two goals in the first round of the playoffs, but struggled to make an impact against the New York Islanders in Round 2, registering two points in the six games.
His line did have a few really good games in the series, and notched two power-play goals and four goals total. Although they played well for most games, they didn’t have much to show for it and then fell flat to close out the series. A late goal in Game 5 was the second lines’ only production in the two final games, as the three of them didn’t generate enough chances to help out the team.
“As a line, I think we were great off the rush,” Hall said. “In-zone, we struggled to come up with chances the same way that Bergy’s [Patrice Bergeron’s] line did.”
Hall becomes an unrestricted free agent this off-season and he had mentioned when traded to Boston that he was looking for a contract extension from the Bruins. In his end-of-season Zoom call, he continued to stress his desire to remain with the team, regardless if that meant taking a paycheck hit.
The winger has been in the league for 11 years and sees the Bruins as the right fit. That’s more important to him at this point in his career.
“I don’t even know what my value is,” Hall said. “I feel like I had two different seasons. I’m not looking to absolutely maximize my value at this point in my career. I’ve been fortunate enough to make some good money in this league, and at this point, it’s about more of a fit.”
Hall wants to make Boston his home for the next few years and start the 2021-22 season off with a fresh start. His time with the Bruins saved his season as his time with the Sabres hindered his confidence.
If the Bruins re-sign Hall this summer, he’ll join the team for what he hopes will be a normal season. Fans will be back in the stands and COVID testing will hopefully be a thing of the past. Hall said he looks forward to the consistency that would come with staying put.
“I’m looking forward to hopefully staying put, putting down some roots, and like I said, getting some normalcy to our season,” Hall said. “A mental break is always good for anyone. We’ll enjoy that. Like I said, I’m going to stick around Boston for a bit. Try to enjoy the area.”
Hall said he’ll stay in Boston for a few weeks before returning home. Not much is open back home for him and doesn’t know if he’d be able to get to a gym or get on the ice if he went back right now. Besides eventually seeing family, Hall and his girlfriend are in no rush to leave Boston and will enjoy this down time before free agency begins.
“I’m happy to be here,” Hall said. “The city, the fans, the organization as a whole, the guys in the room. For me, it was a chance to play with some really great players, some great people, and I really enjoyed that.”
Next up: David Krejci.
Krejci also enters free agency this off-season and unlike Hall, his take on his future as a Bruin seemed anything but certain with his Zoom call.
When asked about next season and what this summer holds in talks with the Bruins, Krejci couldn’t lean one way or the other.
“I’ve obviously thought about it a lot, not just the last couple of days but the whole season, pretty much,” Krejci said.” I’m not going to give you an answer right now.”
“I love Boston,” Krejci said. “This is my home. I just don’t see myself playing anywhere else. But at the same time, we’ll see what happens.”
He said there weren’t any talks during the season about what was going to happen next with a potential contract or not. Krejci said he was focused on the present, taking the season in stride and focusing first on the regular season, then the playoffs and trying to run with it.
What Krejci does know, is he’s ready to get away from the game for a bit and enjoy the summer with his family. When he does decide though, be it with the Bruins or another organization, it won’t be about the price tag.
“It’s not going to be about money,” Krejci said. “At the same time, I just can’t see myself playing for a different team. We’ll see what happens I guess. I don’t even know. I talked to my parents, and they asked me. I can’t even give them a straight answer.”
Krejci’s production was spotty with a lack of consistency on his wing during the condensed 2020-21 season. His line, along with Craig Smith, finally found their groove once Hall came into the mix. Krejci produced playoff numbers in the final stretch of the season with his improved line.
“If you get good chemistry away from the game, then you come in the game and sometimes you don’t have to say anything, you just know how the other person feels,” Krejci said of Smith and Hall. “I love playing with those guys. I love hanging out with those guys. I had lots of fun the last couple months.”
Although the Bruins’ power play floundered at the end of the Islanders’ series, Krejci had a strong series on the power play, registering five of his six playoff power-play points during those six games. Despite a late goal in Game 5, he fell short in helping the team with 5v5 play.
It would make sense for the Bruins to re-sign Krejci and Hall. Yes, we’re going to have our last impressions heading into the summer of the second line being nearly invisible at the end, but both Krejci and Hall are viable to the core group of forwards.
Let the summer of uncertainty begin!