The Buffalo Sabres have pulled off something of a coup on Sunday night, signing star forward Taylor Hall when frankly no one seemed to have the Sabres anywhere on their radar. It was a move that appeared to shock most fans around the National Hockey League and frankly I must admit I was among those left stunned by the decision, but once you start to take a closer look at this deal you do begin to get a clearer picture of why Hall may have chosen this path.
Now I of course do not have any kind of special powers that would allow me to read the inner workings of Taylor Hall's mind, but I do think I can see what I consider to be some fairly obvious reasons for why Hall, in the end, made the decision to go to Buffalo. Keep in mind that this is purely speculation on my part, so let's all have some fun and debate these, and with that in mind here are my top 4 reasons why Taylor Hall is now a Buffalo Sabre.
#1 The short term payday.
Let's face it money talks. There was a ton of talk about Taylor Hall really wanting a chance to play for a contender heading into this offseason, but at the end of the day it does look like he simply took the biggest offer out there. While teams may have offered him better long term deals was there any team out there that was really going to pay him more than $8 million per season? Since capturing the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP Hall has not been able to replicate anything close to that pace, and with the stigma of losing surrounding him throughout his career in the league I do believe that teams were very hesitant to give him big money, especially long term.
#2 The long term payday.
Why would Taylor Hall sign a 1 year deal? I think the obvious answer here is that he was not able to get the kind of money he was looking for on a long term deal. A great way to earn that big contract next time around would be to have a very good season this time around, and what better way for a winger to do that than with a centerman like Sabres star Jack Eichel? If Hall has as good a year as he could potentially have with Eichel it could very well guarantee him a big payday at the end of next season. In fact I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Hall received assurances he would spend the season on Eichel's wing as a part of this deal.
#3 The coach.
The Buffalo Sabres are currently led by head coach Ralph Krueger behind the bench and by all accounts Taylor Hall is a big fan of Mr. Krueger. The two men worked together during their time with the Edmonton Oilers and Hall was reportedly among the players in that Oilers locker room that was furious when Krueger was replaced by Dallas Eakins behind the Oilers bench. You don't have to take my word for it though when it comes to Hall's appreciation of Krueger, here's what he said just last year when asked about the man:
"If I could take anything, and this may sound weird, but if I were to coach some day, I'd want to have an attitude like he did," Hall said. "As you go through the league and you have different coaches, different assistant coaches, you think, 'If I was ever a coach or be in that position what would you want to do and how would you want to send your message.' He was that guy that not every meeting was roses, but at the end of the day, you were there to play hockey and you were there to be a great teammate. I think that's what I'd take from him."
#4 A guaranteed shot at the Stanley Cup playoffs.
I know, I know, I talked about how the talk of Hall wanting to play for a contender may have been all baloney in my first point, but I don't actually believe that. Sure the Buffalo Sabres have missed the playoffs for 9 consecutive seasons but that really doesn't matter in this scenario for Taylor Hall. Perhaps he and Jack Eichel can propel the Sabres to a playoff berth but even if they fail to do so Hall has all but guaranteed himself a shot at the playoffs by accepting this deal from the Sabres. Star players on expiring contracts are often moved at the trade deadline, especially when the teams that own those players' contracts are themselves out of contention for the playoffs. I do believe Taylor Hall wants to win and on a 1 year deal he has all but assured he will be dealt at the trade deadline if the Sabres fail to become a playoff contender by the time that deadline rolls around.
#5 He controls his fate this season.
Hall was given a full no movement and no trade clause on this deal and that means this time around he will have full control of what comes next for him in his career. If the Sabres do wish to move Hall prior to the end of this upcoming season they will need his approval to do so, which means Hall will be able to pick the team he goes to should it come to that.
Do you agree with my reasons? Did I miss something that you believe may have also played a role? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.