Bruins look to find missing pieces to playoff puzzle at the trade deadline

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

By Kaitlyn Riggio
Boston University News Service

With the NHL trade deadline approaching on Monday, the Boston Bruins made multiple moves to solve several season-long problems to give the team the best chance to make the playoffs. 

The most notable of their three trades were likely left-winger Taylor Hall, acquired from the Buffalo Sabres. Hall was the first overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and won the Hart Memorial Trophy with the New Jersey Devils in 2018. 

Despite his decorated past, this current season has been less than stellar for the 29-year-old so far. He only has two goals and 17 assists in 37 games, but these numbers were not a deterrent for Bruins’ general manager, Don Sweeney. 

“He’s gotten scoring chances; he just hasn’t finished at the same level he has in previous years,” Sweeney said in a press conference

The hope is that adding Hall to the lineup will be a step towards creating more depth down the lineup, something that has been a major problem for the Bruins throughout the season. Sweeney mentioned that the Hall could potentially appear alongside second-line center David Krejci or third-line center Charlie Coyle. 

While Hall may have been considered the star of some of his previous teams, he said he is looking forward to taking on a more collaborative role with the Bruins. 

“I’ve been the focal point on a lot of teams in my career,” Hall said in an interview. “And I never made myself the focal point; that’s just the situation I was in.” 

Hall said his goal with the Bruins is to be “part of the bigger solution” and fulfill whatever role is needed. 

“I’m really excited to be a part of that group and just be one of the guys,” Hall said. “I don’t expect to come in and light the league on fire or anything. I just want to come and win games.” 

While it is impossible to tell how Hall will fit in with the Bruins, he has the potential to provide much-needed scoring depth to the Bruins’ offensive lineup. 

Hall was not the only Sabre to make his way to Boston. The Bruins also acquired center Curtis Lazar, who Sweeney is hoping can provide “heaviness in the bottom part of the lineup,” as well as versatility on offense. 

In addition to gaining Hall and Lazar from the Sabres, the Bruins also acquired defenseman Mike Reilly from the Ottawa Senators. Sweeney said Reilly would add some puck-moving ability and offensive production, which can be seen through the 19 assists Reilly has racked up so far this year. 

Reilly also has the potential to help fill out the defensive lineup, which has been riddled with injuries throughout the season, including Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy, who are all currently battling injury. 

Perhaps more impressive than the Bruins’ trade deadline acquisitions is that the price was not exorbitantly high. The Bruins gave up a third-round pick in the 2022 Entry Draft for Reilly and a 2021 second-round pick and left winger Anders Bjork to get Hall and Lazar. 

Trading Bjork likely won’t be a massive hit to the Bruins’ lineup; his offensive production has been low this year, logging only five points in 30 games. More importantly, the Bruins could obtain three potential pieces to be used towards a playoff run without giving up a single first-round draft pick.

Many of the core members of the Bruins’ roster are also getting older, making first-round picks crucial in the coming years as the team likely enters a rebuilding period.  

For the time being, though, Hall, Lazar and Reilly will have the chance to make themselves part of the playoff run puzzle throughout the rest of the season, starting with a game against the Buffalo Sabres tonight.

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