This past Sunday, the Boston Bruins got shellacked by the Washington Capitals in an 8-1 rout. Fortunately, especially if you are the Bruins themselves, something else stole the headlines on that night.
Boston acquired Taylor Hall from the Buffalo Sabres. Sure, Curtis Lazar and Mike Reilly were also added to the roster by upper management, but Hall was the headline-grabbing name that everyone is talking about.
The last couple of days have been a bit concerning—just one person’s opinion—when it comes to this move. Here is the rundown of what we already knew:
Hall, the number one overall pick in the 2010 National Hockey League Entry Draft, was limited to just two goals and 17 assists for 19 points in 37 games with Buffalo. That is an unfathomable decline from his 2017-18 MVP season with the New Jersey Devils, where he posted career-bests with 39 goals and 93 points in 76 games.
Hall is now on his fourth team in two years. He was traded by New Jersey to the Arizona Coyotes last season, and then became a free agent after negotiations broke down with the Coyotes because of internal disfunction.
The 29-year-old winger will be skating on the second line with David Krejci to begin his career with the Black and Gold. He has excellent speed, great puck-handling skills, and a solid wrist shot. The secondary scoring will boost the depth of the Bruins. Hall even went as far as admitting that Boston was a priority when it came to being traded, and he would love to remain with the Bruins for several years.
Can the Bruins really win with Hall? Is he truly a winner? For the record, he has only appeared in 14 playoff games in his 11-year career with only five victories. Make of that with what you will.
Anyway, all of the above information has been well documented since Sunday night. We get it. The Bruins made a splash for a big name. Great. But, what about the other side of it?
In order to get something, you have to give something up. With the acquisition of Hall, the Bruins parted ways with Anders Bjork.
Buffalo acquired the 24-year-old when they parted ways with Hall. Bjork had two goals and three assists in 30 games this season with the Bruins, a year after generating a career-best nine goals and 19 points in 58 games. Overall, the 2014 fifth-round draft pick has 16 goals and 39 points in 138 career games with Boston.
B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy had this to say on Bjork: “He is a hard-working, great kid. He was asked to change the way he played and did what he was asked, but there were just more guys ahead of him. We wish him the best in Buffalo.”
Some generosity, yet honesty in those words from Boston’s bench boss. Bjork just could not find enough traction to gain momentum on a consistent basis. Some of that was caused by two shoulder injuries that hindered his early progress at the NHL level. When he got the chance to skate on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand (yes, that actually happened on more than one occasion), he was able to generate points and contribute in all three zones. Sometimes, it comes down to your linemates and who you can create that chemistry with.
This could be one occasion where a fresh start could spark the motivation that Bjork needs to turn his career around.
He did not have a bad career in Boston by any stretch, but it was not what anyone was expecting out of the Notre Dame product. He should be able to step into a top-six forward role with the Sabres. Although that may not be saying much given the current state of that franchise, it is a start. Buffalo could start a rebuild with Bjork as one of the pieces.
Whenever Bjork had the chance to speak with the media, he always showed a balance of confidence and humbleness. Also, he really loved playing in Boston. He was honored to wear the spoked-B.
B’s fans will be happy to see Hall in Boston, no doubt about it. Honestly, it is tough to blame them. However, Bjork was a good one to give up. Let us hope it works out for everyone.