It seems apparent that Taylor Hall’s contract wasn’t the only issue in New Jersey.
Let’s make something very clear before we begin. Taylor Hall was a fantastic hockey player for the New Jersey Devils when he was on the ice. He was a Hart Trophy winner in a 2017-18 season where they went back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. He has the highest points per game average in franchise history with his 76 goals and 132 assists for 208 points in 211 games. It was a great run in terms of his play on the ice.
All of that was fun and games until we started to learn about his commitment to the New Jersey Devils. He seemed to pretend that he was interested in winning there but that clearly wasn’t necessarily the case. He wants to win, sure, but it likely isn’t the most important thing to him. He wants to get paid which is completely okay but he could have done that in a lot of places.
Instead, he chose to sign a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres have the longest active playoff drought in the National Hockey League, and it is half a decade longer than the second-longest streak held by the Detroit Red Wings (whose drought ended 25 straight years of making the playoffs). The Sabres like to lose so naturally the guy who wants to win really badly wants to go there.
Hall also made it clear that he didn’t really enjoy playing on an expiring contract very much. He didn’t play as well as he is capable of in 2019-20 as it seemed like it was weighing on him at times. Well, now he is officially on an expiring contract again because we will be right back here with Hall in 2020-21. The good news is that when Buffalo is out of it halfway through whenever next season starts, they’ll get a good return for him from a playoff team.
For Hall in Buffalo from strickly a hockey point of view, it should be entertaining from an individual point of view. He will probably get a crack at Jack Eichel‘s line to start the season and is a lock to play with him on the power play. Although a lot of people are automatically penciling in Hall with Eichel, don’t be surprised if they separate two guys who can drive their own lines to create some depth scoring. Either way, they are going to be really creative together in some capacity.
If Hall puts up the numbers that we expect that he can, he should be able to get a bag of cash with term on the deal after the season is over. The cap is going to stay flat for a while as a result of COVID-19 but he will still surely get paid. Hall was a great Devils player but it is fair to wish things turned out differently because it was all so much fun.