Hall and the rights to pending unrestricted free agent forward Nick Foligno were sent to the Blackhawks on Monday for the rights to defensemen Ian Mitchell and Alec Regula, who are pending restricted free agents.
The move gives the Blackhawks a top-line winger they could pair with Connor Bedard, the long-presumed No. 1 pick whom Chicago is expected to take Wednesday in the NHL draft. Getting Foligno also gives the Blackhawks an opportunity to sign the veteran winger before free agency starts Saturday.
“We are thrilled to be adding players of Nick’s and Taylor’s caliber to our organization,” Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said in a news release. “The two bring a wealth of experience and leadership that will strengthen not only our forward group, but aid in the development of our entire roster.”
As for the Bruins, moving on from Hall creates much-needed cap space. The website CapFriendly estimated the Bruins, entering Monday, had less than $5 million in available space while having eight unrestricted and two restricted free agents. The group includes captain Patrice Bergeron, who said he was undecided on his future after the Bruins were eliminated in the first round of the 2023 playoffs by the Florida Panthers.
Clearing Hall’s contract while trading Foligno’s rights means the Bruins now have nearly $11 million in available cap space.
Although draft week has largely been centered on the Blackhawks officially drafting Bedard, Chicago entered the week with $37.5 million in space. Only the Anaheim Ducks had more room to add players.
Having that sort of flexibility allowed the Blackhawks to land Hall ahead of a tight window in which the draft and the start of free agency are within days of each other. Many teams are expected to pursue trades in lieu of what is considered a weaker free agent market compared with previous years.
Getting Hall, who scored 16 goals and 36 points in 61 games this past season, does more than give Bedard a veteran top-line winger. It gives him a teammate who knows the expectations that come with being the No. 1 pick, as Hall went first in 2010 to the Edmonton Oilers.
The 31-year-old Hall is a seven-time 20-goal scorer who won the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player when he guided the New Jersey Devils to the playoffs by scoring 39 goals and 93 points during the 2017-18 season.
Hall, who has also played for the Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres, was traded during the 2020-21 season to the Bruins. He scored 111 points in 158 regular-season games with the Bruins altogether, as well as 17 points in 25 playoff games.
Though Hall was a productive top-six forward, the Bruins had been expected to make a move to alleviate their cap problem with the belief that he could be among the players who exit.
Foligno, who scored 10 goals and 26 points, is coming off his 11th season in which he finished with double-digit goals. He was in the final season of a two-year contract that saw him earn $3.8 million annually. Should the Blackhawks re-sign Foligno, he will give them another option on the power play who could be part of the penalty kill, as he was before going to the Bruins.
As for the Bruins, their newfound cap space will allow them to address their needs knowing they must make contract decisions on those pending UFAs such as Tyler Bertuzzi, David Krejci and Dmitry Orlov.
Mitchell and Regula add to the Bruins’ pending RFA class that features Trent Frederic and Jeremy Swayman, both of whom provided significant contributions as two of the youngest players on the Bruins roster.
The same could hold true for Mitchell and Regula. The 24-year-old Mitchell, who was coached by Boston’s Jim Montgomery at the University of Denver, was a second-round pick in 2017 who has split time between the AHL and NHL since leaving after his junior season. Mitchell had eight points in 35 games last season with the Blackhawks and has 16 points over 82 games in his NHL career.
Regula, 22, was a 2018 third-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings who was sent to Chicago in the Brendan Perlini trade. The 6-foot-4 Regula scored five goals and 21 points in the AHL last season and had a four-game cameo with the Blackhawks.
Boston general manager Don Sweeney stayed busy, completing a minor league swap of restricted free agents shortly after the Hall trade. The Bruins sent forward Shane Bowers to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Reilly Walsh.