Taylor Hall can now buy in Boston instead of rent.
While the Bruins were still sitting with the 20th pick in the first round of Friday’s NHL draft, they finalized their contract extension with Hall, a very reasonable four-year deal that comes with an annual cap hit of $6 million for the left wing and one-time Hart Trophy winner. Hall most likely could have gotten both more term and money on the open market, but his brief experience in Boston after being obtained at the deadline in April was positive enough for Hall to eschew those options.
“There’s always that temptation a little bit, but honestly most of my focus throughout this whole process was directed at playing for the Boston Bruins next year and for years to come,” said Hall, who had talked with the B’s last offseason but ultimately signed a one-year, $8 million deal with Buffalo. “My last go at free agency didn’t really go the way I wanted it to. That’s just my personal experience. After playing in Boston for that period of time, I knew that’s where I wanted to play.”
There is a major question as to who will be Hall’s centerman. He had formed a terrific partnership with David Krejci after being traded to the B’s from the Sabres for Anders Bjork and a second-round pick at the trade deadline. After scoring just two goals in 37 games in Buffalo, Hall had 8-6-14 totals in 16 games with the B’s while riding with Krejci.
But it’s unclear if Krejci wants to return to the NHL or play in his native Czech Republic. And the B’s appeared to be at least exploring second-line center options outside the organization. One league source said they were sniffing around Nashville’s Ryan Johansen though, with four years left at $8 million per season on his deal, the Predators would have to take back some money to make it work.
Reporter Craig Morgan, who covers the Arizona Coyotes, wrote that the B’s had shown interest in center Christian Dvorak, who had played with Hall in the desert.
But as of 7 p.m. on Friday, Hall was just happy to be a long-term Bruin.
“(The uncertainty at center) wasn’t too concerning for me, personally. I would love to play with David for another year or two, but he’s got his own things that he has to deal with,” said Hall. “But I think we’re comfortable with whoever’s going to be there. There’s a lot of good players on that team and I know the organization has a lot of confidence in guys that are able to step up and play there. It wasn’t a concern for me. It was more that I wanted to be a Bruin and whatever we can do to win hockey games, that’s what I wanted to be a part of.”
While the B’s have older players like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and younger stars like David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy, Hall is smack in the middle of his prime at the age of 29. Though there could be some player movement in the coming days, Hall likes the makeup of the team.
“I think there’s a really good mix of both,” said Hall, who expects to buy a home in the Boston area with his fiancee at some point. “You can’t just have a super old team and you can’t just have a super young team. I think you have to have a mix of both. Guys that have done it before and guys who have played in the playoffs a long time and know what it takes but also guys who are young and skilled and have that energy and have that hunger. I think that’s what makes Boston a great fit for me. … There’s a group of guys that are committed to bringing a Stanley Cup to Boston and that’s all I want to be a part of. Sometimes in this league, you get caught up trying to be on the perfect team. I was super happy in Boston. I think we have a great group of guys to accomplish something special.”
Hall said when things went south badly in Buffalo, he chatted with his agent about where he might go and identified the Bruins early in the process.
“I would have liked it to have been sooner than the deadline, but they had to wait and make sure they had the cap space, which was understandable. From there I had a couple of teams that were interested in me and I chose Boston,” said Hall. “The biggest reason I chose Boston is I thought it was the best chance to re-sign after the season. Looking back, it seems like a good bet on my part and I’m really happy to be here talking to you guys. Looking back in the month of April, I had a lot of uncertainty about my future, but the atmosphere in the dressing is something that’s well known in the NHL circles. And it was something that I think I needed and I wanted to be a part of.”
Now he’ll be a more permanent part of it.