In his introductory zoom call with the Boston media, Taylor Hall admittedly discussed how his confidence was lacking. After all, his 37-game tenure with the Buffalo Sabres resulted in a mere 19 points (2 goals, 17 assists).
Hall gambled on himself inking a one-year deal with Buffalo during the 2020 off-season following stints in Edmonton, New Jersey, and Arizona. By early April, the 2010 top overall pick and 2018 Hart Trophy recipient arrived in his fifth home — in a trade involving fellow teammate Curtis Lazar in exchange for Anders Bjork and a 2021 second round draft pick — itching for a confidence boost before hitting the open market again in the summer.
The Bruins hoped Hall could finally close the revolving door next to David Krejci on the second line. Hall became a perfect compliment for Krejci and fellow winger Craig Smith. Their skill sets meshed cohesively, giving the Bruins a much-needed boost with their top-six.
Hall quickly bought into Boston’s culture during the latter half of the pandemic-shortened 2021 campaign. With his keen attacking zone prowess and stout back-checking ability, Hall provided dazzling moments during his initial 16 game-run in Boston (14 points on eight goals and six assists). His play fizzled during the second-round matchup with the Islanders, but his well-rounded work ethic resonated with his new teammates.
Hall earned his stripes with his peers. As a result, GM Don Sweeney signed Hall to a four-year, $24 million contract during the off-season.
“It’s been great to come to Boston, move to a place that I know I’m going to be here for a while,” Hall said following Friday’s captains’ practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “It’s not something you’re gonna see on the scoresheet the first five games of the year. But mentally, it makes things a lot easier for an athlete when he’s more settled and comfortable and can just worry about playing.”
With his long-term future secured, Hall established himself as a core member of Boston’s roster. Yet, he’ll have another adjustment period come training camp.
Krejci’s departure to his native Czech Republic left the Bruins with a gaping void. Sweeney addressed Boston’s depth in the off-season, adding Nick Foligno, Erik Haula and Tomas Nosek up front, defenseman Derek Forbot and goalie Linus Ullmark, another former Sabre.
The Bruins won’t likely turn to their new forwards for that second-line role to start the season. Charlie Coyle enters the 2021-22 campaign as the odds on favorite to earn top-six minutes centering Hall and Smith. Jack Studnicka — after bulking up by 10 lbs during the off-season — remains another intriguing option in the long run if he can turn his top-six potential into results at the NHL level.
Hall would’ve loved to reunite with Krejci, but the 29-year-old wanted to return regardless of his on-ice role.
“In signing here, I never had a guarantee that Krejci was going to be back. I just wanted to play for this team and help this team win a Stanley Cup, hopefully,” Hall said. “Whatever I have to do to contribute to that is what I’ll do, and I’m sure Smitty and whoever we’re playing with feels the same.”
“My job is to come in and play as well as I can,” Hall added. “Whatever line I’m slotted in, hopefully, I can drive that line like I have in the past. Whoever the center is, I imagine I’ll play with Smitty on the right side. I think that we can work with anyone.”
With stability and a fresh perspective, a confident Hall would love nothing more than to build off his late-season run. More importantly, he hopes to hoist that elusive Cup and help the Bruins end an 11-year drought.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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