The interest in a Taylor Hall extension is mutual, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney confirmed Tuesday.
“Even when Taylor got here, he’s expressed interest, mutual interest, to have him back,” Sweeney acknowledged. “Had an early conversation with his representatives and obviously, we’ll have to see where all of the pieces fit together.”
The good news: This is actually the first time that the Bruins have outright acknowledged that they’d like to keep Hall around. Prior to this, it was a lot of “we’ll see how it goes” and hoping that he bought into the Bruins’ culture. The latter certainly happened, as Hall was a model citizen throughout his Boston run, and looked like someone who truly wanted to be here.
Acquired (along with Curtis Lazar) from the Sabres in exchange for Anders Bjork and a second-round pick, Hall jumped into the mix as an immediate fit with the Bruins, and posted eight goals and 14 points in 16 regular season contests before a postseason run that included three goals and five points in 11 games.
A staple of Hall’s Boston run: his repeated praise of both the Bruins and Boston, and how he envisioned this as a potential long-term fit for himself after a career that included stops in Edmonton, New Jersey, Arizona, and Buffalo before The Hub.
That continued in Hall’s final media session of the season.
“I see a fit and hopefully they feel the same,” Hall said. “We’ll let the dust settle on everything this year, I’m sure they have a lot of stuff going on and some other guys that have been here longer than me that they have to worry about. Then we’ll figure that out, but hopefully we can make something work. That’s my goal and like I said, hopefully we can make that happen.
“I’m not looking to absolutely maximize my value at this point in my career. I’ve been fortunate enough to make some good money in this league, and at this point, it’s about more of a fit for me than maybe money or a long-term thing.”
So, to recap: The Bruins essentially have three key free agents who want to be here between Hall, linemate David Krejci, and starting goaltender Tuukka Rask. That alone should save them some money when it comes to keeping all three.
But with the Seattle Kraken expansion draft looming, Sweeney and the Bruins are going to have to play this one with a veteran’s touch, as keeping Hall (and others) unsigned until the Kraken officially swipe a talent from Boston will allow them to maximize their protection list and keep as much of their core intact for 2021-22.
Speaking on Tuesday, Sweeney outright admitted that their preference would be to not sign any of their pending unrestricted free agents until the Kraken make their selection on July 21.
“It creates other problems for us,” Sweeney admitted. “I think, again, we’ll have discussions and hopefully be able to find common ground. You run the risk, you get into that interview period and period beyond expansion that may get closer to the deadline, and they find ground somewhere else that they feel is a better fit. There’s a risk there.
“But again, the fact of expansion and exposing other player associated with that, you want to keep the strongest roster you possibly can on the depth side of things, and we’ll try to do that like everybody else. ”
As Sweeney said, there’s risk there. But in a career full of risks that have backfired, Hall’s desire for stability should give the Bruins the edge over any other potential better fits, especially with the interest finally and officially mutual.
“You want to find a home for the next few years here and we’ll see what happens,” said Hall.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.