As you’d expect any NHL general manager who has the cap space, Kevin Adams rang the agent for Taylor Hall. The message to Darren Ferris was simple: The Sabres were interested in signing their client, let’s make it work.
While the Alex Pietrangelo sweepstakes made bigger noise over the weekend, it was quiet on the Hall front. The thought was that he wanted to go to a contender and his expected contract would limit a suitor list.
But when Adams and Ferris got talking, it became apparent that the interest was on both sides. The parties negotiated, but ultimately fell back on the one-year, $8M deal that stunned the hockey world Sunday night. The move teams Hall up with Jack Eichel, creating a powerful 1-2 punch on the Sabres’ top line. It also reunites him with Ralph Krueger, who coached him during his first three NHL seasons in Edmonton.
“The way that Ralph had built a relationship in his time with Taylor previously absolutely played a big role in this,” Adams said.
How this relationship evolves will depend on the Sabres success next season and what Hall wants. His contract reportedly includes a no-move and no-trade clause allowing him to control the situation should a trade be how this ends. Adams would love to use this “show me” season to entice the 28-year-old forward to stay, but then again, that was John Chayka’s aim when the Coyotes acquired him from the Devils in December.
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“He obviously studied our roster. We talked about that,” Adams said. “We had an in-depth conversation with him about philosophically as an organization what we’re looking to do. We know that we haven’t been good enough. We have to go and get better every day and work to become the team that all of us want to become. We wanted him as a piece of the puzzle, and he did as well.”
Taylor Hall another offseason addition for Adams
Adams acknowledged that Hall’s addition doesn’t instantly change the Sabres’ current trajectory. It’s a start, and there are other new faces in Buffalo this offseason. Eric Staal, Cody Eakin, and Tobias Rieder have also been added. Restricted free agents Victor Olofsson and Sam Reinhart are still unsigned and there is a little more than $13M in cap space available.
“We got to a place on both sides that there was a comfort level and we all wanted the same thing, which is to put ourselves in a position to compete for a Stanley Cup and that’s what we’re excited to try to work towards,” Adams said.
“We know this is a lot of work and it’s a lot of work in front of us. I think all of us, kind of in that mentality, we’re hungry and humble and we just want to get better, period.”