The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks agreed to a trade Monday headlined by former MVP Taylor Hall.
Hall and fellow forward Nick Foligno are heading to Chicago in exchange for young defensemen Ian Mitchell and Alec Regula, the teams announced.
For the Blackhawks, this is their first big move done ahead of the likely selection of Connor Bedard with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, which kicks off Wednesday night. Bedard is easily the best prospect in the draft, and the Blackhawks won the lottery this year to get him as a cornerstone piece to the puzzle.
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Hall is the main piece of this puzzle, though, as only Foligno’s negotiating rights were moved in this deal. He’s set for free agency on July 1 and will be turning 36 on Halloween this year.
Hall hasn’t played at the MVP pace he saw with the New Jersey Devils in 2017-2018, but he’s still been a solid producer. Last season, injuries didn’t help his cause, though, as he had just 36 points over 61 games. He was also moved down to the third line under Jim Montgomery last year due to the overwhelming talent on the roster.
Still, at 31 years old, Hall has a lot to offer a team in a more significant capacity.
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Chicago had the third-worst record in the league last season at 26-49-7, which marked the third year in a row they haven’t broken 30 wins. Of course, this team was a perennial Stanley Cup candidate since 2009 when they won it all. They would follow it up with Cup wins during the 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 seasons.
Yet, Chicago has been on a downturn since the 2017-2018 season. They made the playoffs just once in the last six years.
The Bruins will miss both forwards, but GM Don Sweeney has other needs to fill and cap space was limited before this trade. Hall’s departure saves the Bruins $6 million on the cap.
Prior to making the trade, the Bruins had just over $4 million in cap room.
With Mitchell and Regula, they also have an interesting decision to make: Being restricted free agents, Boston can let them walk if they want to take straight savings this offseason to use for more pressing matters, say, signing Tyler Bertuzzi and Dmitry Orlov – two players they traded for at the deadline last season who they loved in the second half.
Mitchell, 24, and Regula, 22, are both young prospects who can help the Bruins, but they still see themselves in a championship window even if their captain, Patrice Bergeron, is still contemplating his future with the franchise as a free agent.
They have a solid defensive core already in place with Hampus Lindholm, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Derek Forbort and Matt Grzelcyk on the books for next season. But the NHL has proven to be a league where too many defensemen is always a good problem to have.
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While the Bruins figure out how they can make a better run in the playoffs next season after their upset to the Florida Panthers, the Blackhawks are looking ahead with positivity to the Bedard era, in which Hall will be a clear upgrade to the forwards in the locker room alongside him.