Taylor Hall is on the move yet again.
The Boston Bruins, in need of creating NHL cap space, found a willing trade partner, that being the Chicago Blackhawks. It is a four-player trade, with the Blackhawks getting the 31-year-old left winger and the unrestricted free agent rights to forward Nick Foligno in exchange for the restricted free agent rights to defensemen Ian Mitchell and Alec Regula.
Boston will not retain any salary on Hall’s contract, which is in the third year of a four-year, $24 million contract he signed with them in 2021, carrying a $6 million cap hit.
The contract does include a 16-team no-trade list, which will drop to 10 teams in a few days, but Chicago was not one of the teams that were in the list, per TSN’s Chris Johnston.
Blackhawks Get Connor Bedard’s Linemate
With the Blackhawks having the first overall pick secured, which they are most certainly using it on franchise-altering talent Connor Bedard, they are landing someone who can play on Bedard’s left wing side on the top line this upcoming season. He had 36 points, including 16 goals, in 61 games in the Bruins’ record-setting regular season, mostly playing on the third line, averaging 15:56 of ice time, and added eight points in their upsetting seven-game first round loss to the 8th-seeded Florida Panthers.
Expect that usage to change drastically once he dons the Chicago red and black. On paper, the two would mesh well together, as Hall is more of a playmaker and Bedard is a goal-scoring center.
This is not the first time that Hall was linemates with a franchise-changing rookie centreman. He played on Connor McDavid’s left wing during McDavid’s rookie season in 2015-16. Like with McDavid, Hall can be a mentor and motivator for Bedard to work with, and former Edmonton Oilers and current Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan praised Hall about his leadership skills during Hall’s time in Edmonton.
However, there is no guarantee that Hall stays with Chicago for the two remaining years on his contract. He’s not going to change the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup odds by a lot, as they are slated to be near the bottom of the league again, and them taking on Hall’s full cat hit might not be ideal if they want as many assets as possible.
Nick Foligno Gives Blackhawks a Vocal Presence
The interesting part is about Foligno’s UFA rights being part of this trade. One could assume that he would be open to being part of a young team on a rebuild. He’s set to turn 36 on Halloween this year. (UPDATE: Foligno has signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Blackhawks)
It doesn’t hurt having veteran leadership on the team, especially since Foligno was formerly the captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He’s one of the better character guys in the league for a reason, as he brings positive energy into a locker room.
While he had 26 points in 60 games last season with the Bruins, don’t expect that to happen again in Chicago, should he sign with them. If he does, expect him to be on a bottom six role, likely on the team’s fourth line. He and Hall will help create the team culture that general manager Kyle Davidson is looking for around Bedard.
Bruins Clear Cap Space for Potential Tyler Bertuzzi Re-Signing
While the return for the Bruins is, at first glance, underwhelming, since both Mitchell and Regula are fringe NHL defensemen, having split time between the NHL and AHL in the last few seasons, it’s important to keep in mind that Hall, to go with the 16-team no-trade list (which, again, will drop to 10 teams in a few days) that carries with his contract, also has a no-movement clause, so he had final say on the trade, giving the Bruins almost no leverage.
However, this trade has more to do with the Bruins’ cap situation. They are in a tightly precarious situation just a few days before the free agency period begins. They want to do everything possible to sign trade deadline acquisition Tyler Bertuzzi to a new deal, but they had to clear cap space before working out any sort of deal.
They now have almost $11 million of cap space after this trade, though after the potential Bertuzzi re-signing, general manager Don Sweeney still has more cap gymnastics to be done. He still has to re-sign RFAs Jeremy Swayman and Trent Frederic, and is also facing the uncertainty around the futures of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, as they’re both 37. Bergeron is contemplating whether to return to Boston or retire, and there might also be the possibility Krejci returns to Czechia, his home country.
There’s also the likelihood that their two other deadline acquisitions, Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway, both leave in free agency. In total, they have 10 free agents, unrestricted and restricted combined, at the NHL level, including the recently acquired Mitchell. That’s not to mention pending RFAs Jakub Lauko and another recent acquisition, Reilly Walsh, who they got from trading Shane Bowers to the New Jersey Devils, who both, as of now, are with the AHL’s Providence Bruins.
Written by Alec Nava
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