The New Jersey Devils are currently at a point where their competitive window is opening. The Boston Bruins window is closing. The Bruins have multiple holes to fill, with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci seemingly riding into the sunset. On top of those long-time Bruins, Tyler Bertuzzi, Nick Foligno, and Dmitry Orlov are also set to become free agents. It was reported that the Bruins would like to retain their deadline acquisition in Bertuzzi. However, they only have $5 million in projected salary cap space.
That will not get Bertuzzi locked up, let alone anyone else of his stature. The Bruins will have to commit some serious cap gymnastics to fill their roster while trying to stay competitive. To hurt their cause even more, Jeremy Swayman is a restricted free agent. A team can theoretically come in and offer sheet the Bruins with a lower offer sheet, and the Bruins could not match it unless trading away some money.
The Bruins have $29 million in projected cap space in 2024, so they have room to spend next offseason. However, Brad Marchand will be 36 years old and the window of opportunity will really be closed. They currently have seven defensemen signed to deals, so their blueline is theoretically set. Unless they want to trade one of the defensemen, the move would be to trade a forward.
The player to move is Taylor Hall. The other option is Jake DeBrusk, but it is easy to see that they would want to keep the younger DeBrusk over Hall as a potential rebuild is on the horizon for the once-mighty Bruins.
Enter the New Jersey Devils. They can take advantage of the Bruins with the amount of cap space they have. Tom Fitzgerald has taken advantage of teams before with cap issues. Ryan Graves, John Marino, and Vitek Vanacek were on teams that were cap strapped and the Devils barely had to give up anything to get them.
The Devils will have to give up even less to get Taylor Hall. The Devils can easily send the Bruins a light package with the main acquisition for the Bruins being cap space. If Marc-Andre Fleury can be traded for nothing, why can’t Hall? The Devils could part with pending restricted free agent Yegor Sharangovich, someone the Bruins can put into their lineup and be relatively cheap. Or even a late draft pick, as the Bruins only have eight picks total for the next two drafts.
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Hall would slide right back into where he was when he was here a few years ago. A top-six winger that can produce numbers. He has not produced as much as he has since his Hart Trophy-winning season, but he is still very productive. While he missed time this year due to injury, something that he has struggled with in previous years, he was still a point every other game player. He is a good replacement for pending Devils free agent Tomas Tatar.
Hall’s contract is team friendly as well, with two years left at $6 million. The Devils, as it stands, can afford that. Pending the re-signing of restricted free agents Timo Meier and Jesper Bratt, the Devils should be able to fit all three. If the Devils bring back Erik Haula, the lineup with all four is older and more experience. Something the Devils seemed to be lacking in the second round of the playoffs against the Hurricanes.
The Devils could slot Hall back into either the top or second line. His line-mates would either be Jack Hughes and Meier, or Bratt and Nico Hischier. Hall said himself that without Hischier, he would not have won the Hart trophy. Either way, the Devils top six, if healthy, would be among the best in the entire NHL. Then having veterans Ondrej Palat and Haula in the bottom six makes the Devils a problem for other teams with that kind of depth.
There are a few things that could hamper the possible reunion. The Devils may not want to bring Hall back due to his potential injuries. He missed a bit of time last season due to a shoulder injury. However, Hall has been relatively healthy in recent years since his knee injury while with the Devils in the Covid-19 shortened season.
Another issue that can arise is that Hall has a modified no-movement clause and a 10-team trade list. Could it be possible that he would put the Devils on that list? There was once a time when the Devils were close to extending Hall before the 2019-20 season fell apart. That season the Devils went from having a potential extension with their stay in Hall to firing their coach, general manager, and selling almost everything at the trade deadline.
Hall is familiar with the New Jersey area and the front office, it is very possible to convince him to come back to the organization that he single handedly carried to the playoffs back in 2017-18. If the Devils were to bring back Hall, he sure would have a lot of help to get back there.