Taylor Hall’s new contract is fair for Bruins, but a steal? Not yet

Bean: Hall contract fair for Bruins, but a steal? Not yet originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Don Sweeney has a good reputation for re-signing his own players to good contracts.

Brad Marchand (three years remaining at $6.12 million per) and David Pastrnak (two more at $6.66 million per) play on two of the most team-friendly deals in the NHL.

There might be an urge to put Taylor Hall’s new four-year contract with a $6 million average annual value in the same category. Resist it. It isn’t.

The veteran wing’s deal to return to the Bruins is not an overpay, which is rare for an unrestricted free agent. It’s fair, and a contract I’d give him if I were the Bruins. Calling it a steal would be a little ambitious.

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Hall is a big name, a first overall pick and a Hart Trophy winner as the league’s MVP in 2018. He might be Boston’s third-best wing, but he is one of the most talented wings in the league.

He’s also been a disappointment since winning that Hart. Hall played well in the 2018-19 season, but was limited to 33 games by a knee injury. In 2019-20, he scored 16 goals in 63 games. Last season, he totaled 10 goals in 53 games between the Sabres and Bruins.

At $6 million a year, the Bruins should be looking for 25-30 goals from Hall annually, a plateau he is certainly capable of reaching. He just hasn’t done it recently. Even though the seasons were shortened, his 82-game pace last year was just 15 goals, which was up from a 20-goal pace the year before. Among left wings with at least 40 games played last season, Hall, playing on a one-year, $8 million deal, was the fifth-worst value in the league in terms of cost per goal.

Of course, Hall was much better with the Bruins than he was with the Sabres last year. He scored eight goals in 16 games (up from just two goals in 37 games for Buffalo). The hope is that he produces more at that pace than his second round performance, when he scored one goal in seven games.

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If Hall’s past performance makes this deal fair, future performance could certainly put it in the category of the Marchand and Pastrnak deals. That will depend on Hall’s consistency, health and linemates. David Krejci returning would make Year 1 of the deal productive, but there are longterm questions about who will center Hall. Top-six centers are hard to come by and the Bruins notoriously haven’t drafted well; could Jack Studnicka, John Beecher or Curtis Hall turn into one?

Krejci has spent far too much of his Bruins career without adequate linemates. The Bruins shouldn’t pass that problem onto Hall if and when Krejci leaves. Even without a longterm plan at No. 2 center, though, four years of Hall at $6 million is money well spent.

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