Blackhawks acquire Taylor Hall from cap-crunched Bruins

The Blackhawks have acquired veteran winger Taylor Hall to bolster a team that went 26-49-7 last season but has Connor Bedard on the way.

The Chicago Blackhawks have made the first big move of the Connor Bedard era by acquiring Taylor Hall from the Boston Bruins.

While the Blackhawks haven't officially drafted Bedard yet, the addition of Hall is a sign the team is interested in adding to its roster with the generational talent on the way.

Hall is coming off a down year by his standards with 16 goals and 20 assists in 61 games. He skated a career-low 15:56 per night. He is one year removed from a season that saw him produce 61 points in 82 games for the Bruins.

Taylor Hall is off to Chicago. (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Taylor Hall is off to Chicago. (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Bruins were motivated to move Hall thanks to the $6 million cap hit he carries through the 2024-25 season. Prior to the move, Boston projected to have just $4.937 million in cap space. They acquired the RFA rights to two defenceman in the deal — Ian Mitchell and Alec Regula — but didn't add a single dollar to their cap sheet. The Bruins could choose to let the blueliners walk and take $6 million in pure savings if they so choose.

On the other side of the equation, even after the deal the Blackhawks have a projected $29.878 million in cap space. Hall has the highest cap hit of any forward on his new team. The 31-year-old's contract included a 16-team no-trade clause, but Chicago was reportedly not on that list.

Chicago also acquired the negotiating rights to Nick Foligno — who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 — in the deal.

Foligno produced 10 goals and 16 points in 60 games in a limited role with the Bruins in 2022-23 that saw him skate 12:22 per night but included some power-play time. Chicago may value the 35-year-old's leadership ability as he served as the Columbus Blue Jackets captain from 2015-16 to 2020-21.

It's unclear how the Bruins value the players they acquired negotiating rights to. Mitchell is an undersized 24-year-old (5-foot-11, 192 pounds) who has 82 games on his NHL resume with 12 points to his name. Regula is younger (22) and larger (6-foot-4, 208 pounds), but has played just 22 games at the NHL level.

Whatever happens with the pair, the value proposition for the Bruins is getting off a contract they don't consider to be good value when cap space is at a premium for a team looking to win now.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks gave up almost nothing to acquire a player who will undoubtedly improve a club that doesn't have much to put around Bedard.

While rostering Hall might not be the most efficient use of cap room, the team has so much at the moment that it doesn't need to obsess over efficiency. The commitment to the winger is also short enough that by the time Chicago is really ramping up, his $6 million won't be on the books anymore.

Hall is a stop-gap player with a little bit of upside. If a prominent role with the Blackhawks helps improve the perception of him around the NHL in the next two years he may even become a valuable trade chip in the future.