Taylor Hall threw a curveball at everybody.
The free agent winger stunned the NHL on Sunday night by agreeing to a one-year, $8 million deal with the Buffalo Sabres.
The contract also reportedly has a no-trade and no-movement clause.
His entire free agent saga focused on Stanley Cup contenders like Colorado, Boston, Nashville, and even a potential reunion with his original team in Edmonton.
But in the end, it was the Sabres that ended up getting him on a short-term deal.
It is there that he will be reunited with Ralph Krueger, one of his head coaches from his time in Edmonton. The two had a great relationship there and as recently as this past December Hall was speaking highly of the coach.
Everything about this signing is just absolutely wild. It is not a huge surprise that Hall is signing a short-term deal because it had been reported that he was considering that. It was just always assumed that he would be signing with a team that seemed to be closer to contention. The Sabres have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in nine consecutive seasons, even falling short in this year’s 24-team field in the restart.
And that is what makes the Sabres such a surprise.
Hall has spent his entire career playing in Edmonton, New Jersey, and Arizona, playing on just two playoff teams in 10 years.
This is only a short-term deal, so the play here could be to boost his value up and take another run at unrestricted free agency in a year when there is perhaps more money to be had.
As for the Sabres, it is a huge win for new general manager Kevyn Adams. There is no way you can blame him for taking a player like this on that contract, and if the Sabres end up struggling again he has a potentially massive trade chip to use at the deadline (assuming it is a deal Hall approves with his no-trade protections).
You also have to think it is some kind of a message to Jack Eichel that the team is committed to at least trying to win in the short-term.
Eichel has grown frustrated with all of the losing in Buffalo and desperately wants to win there. Now he gets to potentially play alongside a recent MVP and one of the best wingers in the league, while Hall gets to play alongside one of the best centers he has ever had.