If the talk is true coming out of Buffalo that Taylor Hall isn’t going to fetch the Sabres a first-round pick at this year’s deadline, everything is in place for a team to absolutely steal the left-winger should he waive his no-trade protection to join a contender. Elliotte Friedman noted, that unless several teams suddenly decide they need him, he could be had for a bargain by a team that has the cap room to fit him in.
Hall’s $8 million cap hit is an issue for a lot of teams. That the perception is he’s had a lousy season only makes it looks more expensive. Teams are probably bowing out of the race because of money or concern he won’t be a difference-maker and that could open the door for another club who has the funds and the hunch Hall could prove people wrong.
There is certainly going to be an argument that Hall is not going to to help a team this season. If you watch a number of the Sabres games and look at his point production, he’s been a dreadful player. That said, others are arguing that he’s been poisoned by being in Buffalo and analytics supporters are making a case that Hall’s lack of production isn’t as bad as it seems on the surface.
NHL analyst for the Montreal Gazette and cohost of the Cross-Check NHL Show for LockedOn, Andrew Bershire writes:
“…a forward has more impact on offence than defence, especially a winger. Hall’s impact on offence relative to team remains incredible. Defence at even strength is also more systemic than individual, so a better team would bring out better D performance as well.
Others have argued that while this Sabres losing streak is really bad, what would it look like without Hall on the roster? The suggestion (as per numbers @IneffectiveMath) is that there is a difference of 0.57 xG/60 (23% threat swing) with him on the ice.
What Matters Is What Buffalo Thinks
Regardless of what side you sit on in the stats versus eye-test debate, what really matters is what the Sabres think. Are they at a point where moving Hall is a must and will do so for whatever offer gets thrown at them? It’s hard to imagine Hall is still thinking the Sabres organization is best suited for him long-term. Regardless of what he says, why would he want to stay in a place where the team is seemingly dragging him down?
If the Sabres are of the mindset to move him at any cost, a team can hypothetically come in and grab him for next-to-nothing in return.
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