It’s official, the Taylor Hall being signed by the Avalanche rumors were false. Well kind of false. The Avalanche did what they could and offered Taylor Hall a 1 year deal at $6.5 million to come play in the Mile High City, rather than come to Colorado to chase a cup Hall opted for the no pressure situation of playing in Buffalo. The former MVP was vocal all offseason about wanting to win games and play in the postseason and he decided to play for BUFFALO. A team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 9 years. While it’s pretty disappointing for Avalanche fans, or any of the other teams that were rumored to sign him, it does make some sense on why Hall decided Buffalo.
If you think the idea of Taylor Hall going to Buffalo make zero sense you’re not alone. The hockey world was pretty stunned when Hall announced he’d be playing for the Sabres. All offseason Taylor Hall was adamant he wanted to play somewhere he could win. He’s played for bad teams his entire career and the former MVP wanted his chance to play for a Cup Contender. It made all the sense in the world for Taylor Hall to sign with the Avalanche, or the Bruins, hell even the Predators would have made sense for Hall. All of those teams were front runners to sign Taylor Hall well before the Sabres were. So why would he want to go play for a team like Buffalo? Playing for Edmonton, then New Jersey, then Arizona, and now Buffalo makes you think he’s just a masochist. He’s got to get some pleasure from all this pain right?
Well Hall is playing in Buffalo for one year and getting paid $8 million so he’s getting paid good money to deal with the pain that is the Sabres dumpster fire. Eight million to play in Buffalo for one year is a pretty damn good pay day. Clearly big enough for him to change his mind on wanting to go to a team that wins games. Not only will he get PAID this season he has a full No Movement Clause and No Trade Clause in his contract. So even if the Sabres did want to trade him before the deadline Hall would have to give the team permission before they could. So the second shit inevitably hits the fan in Buffalo he can’t be traded to a different garbage team, only a team he approves. Which if Hall was actually serious about wanting to play for a winning team he would only approve a trade to a team that gives him the best chance at winning a Stanley Cup.
Besides getting paid a ton of money Hall will be able to go to Buffalo just to play hockey. No one is expecting him to take that franchise to the Stanley Cup Finals, or even the playoffs in general. He will be able to show up day after day, produce big numbers and the rest of the team will still lose around him, but hey, at least Hall still looks good out on the ice. Every franchise Hall has played for he has been expected to be the savior of the franchise, the missing piece they need to compete for a Stanley Cup. Thing is Buffalo has multiple places that they still need to improve on before they are actually a playoff team, or at least a competitive one. Hall won’t have near the pressure he usually has to win, so he can go out on the ice score a ton of points and have fun with it. Perhaps him and Eichel can lead the team in points and actually have a good time for once. Even if they aren’t winning a whole lot.
Hall will be on the top line with Jack Eichel and will probably average a ton of minutes a game. Going to Buffalo guarantees Hall the max amount of playing time his body can handle. Him playing for a cup contender minimized his playing time, cause all the true cup contenders have depth across the board who can score points. Meaning Hall wouldn’t have to be on the ice all the time to score more than half the teams points just to keep them in games. Buffalo doesn’t have that depth to take away minutes from Hall. The guy is going to average 19 minutes of ice time every night, combine for 5 points a game with Jack Eichel and still lose 7-5. At least Hall can dry his tears after losing games with all the money he makes this year.
So Hall will get a ton of money, to play a ton of minutes, with zero pressure to actually win. He’s essentially being brought in to be Jack Eichel’s fluffer. Make sure the young center is happy and convinced that the franchise is actually moving forward for at least one year and if Hall comes back after this contract is done that’s cool, if not Eichel should be happy for at least another year or two having been convinced Buffalo does have a plan for the future. I imagine there are plenty of other reasons for Hall’s decision to play in Buffalo than a fat payday and a zero pressure situation, but they’re the ones that make the most sense to me. The salary cap isn’t getting any bigger this year so he might as well get paid right now to play for a team that could help him hyper inflate his numbers so he can get ANOTHER high paying multi year contract next year.
Teams are going to have more money to spend next year with a likely salary cap increase. Hall going to play for whatever team will give him the most money for one year and then he can move on to the next team when they can truly offer him the high paying long term contract he deserves makes sense. Teams that can actually win the cup will have money to offer Hall that kind of contract next year. So wait it out one year and get paid to play for a winning team next year. I respect it, even if it did get my hopes up that Taylor Hall would come to Colorado only for them to be crushed.