In a surprising turn of events, All-Star winger and 2018’s Hart Memorial Trophy winner Taylor Hall signed a deal with the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres.
Hall was one of the most attractive free agents this offseason and was pursued by Stanley Cup contenders like Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, and his former team Edmonton Oilers. Arizona Coyotes, with whom he finished the 2019/20, were also a strong candidate for his signature.
However, the 28-year-old winger ended up taking the unexpected route and agreed with Sabres to a one-year, $8 million deal. He will reportedly receive $1 million in signing bonus and $7 million in salary.
Getting Hall is a big coup for the Sabres, especially since the franchise is currently going through a nine-year playoff drought, which is the longest-active in NHL.
“I certainly hope that the players and coaches and our staff and the organization are excited, and our fans are excited,” said general manager Kevyn Adams after the deal was made public. “This is a great step. But we’re in a position right now where we have to go earn it. We have to go get better every day.”
Although it isn’t an obvious fit, there are several reasons why Taylor Hall ended up choosing Buffalo Sabres. For starters, he will reunite with head coach Ralph Krueger, with whom he worked in Edmonton. Reportedly, the pair has a great relationship and they were eager to collaborate again.
Also, the Sabres give Hall a perfect chance to bounce back after a troubling past couple of seasons. The expectations won’t be as huge as in some other places, and he will be able to rebuild his value in order to command a bigger, long-term deal next year.
Hall played 627 career NHL games with the Oilers, New Jersey Devils, and Coyotes. He has 218 goals and 345 assists for a total of 564 points.