It had been reported that Hall was ready to strike a short-term deal and try free agency again when the financial landscape is better. But Hall, who has yet to play a legitimate contender throughout that first decade in the league, was also expected to make a short-term deal to go in pursuit of the Stanley Cup as well.
Signing in Buffalo… is not chasing the Cup.
The Sabers, of course, have lived through their own decade of darkness. They haven’t made the playoffs since the 2010-11 season and have missed out on the expanded playoff field after posting a 30-31-8 record in 2019-20.
Hall’s addition obviously makes Buffalo a better team, maybe even good enough to slip into a playoff berth, but a player certainly won’t know the difference between going from a basement team to a pretending.
The logic for Hall, I guess, is that Buffalo could offer him a significant sum of money for a year. and they can give him the opportunity to play alongside Jack Eichel on the front row. After a rather stormy year between New Jersey and Arizona, playing with Eichel will give Hall a chance to pump his stats before taking on another free agency race. The Sabers could also deal with Hall on the trade deadline with a near-term competitor if things turn south for them.
Either way, that’s enough for the Sabers. What does this mean for the Oilers?
Well Chris Johnston appeared on the Steve Dangle podcast on Sunday and said… “I think Hall wants to go back to Edmonton someday, to a perfect world, I think he would have wanted to go back this year.
Here is the podcast in video form. They start talking about Hall’s signing at Buffalo at 27:00 and arrive at the Oilers a few minutes later.
Apparently Hall and the Oilers have been talking about making a deal this offseason, but the money never worked. As we know, the Oilers were way too tight off the salary cap with too many other holes to fill to give Hall the contract he was looking for.
So that’s another reason Hall may have made this one-year deal in Buffalo. If he really wants to go back to Edmonton and join the Oilers, the team will have a lot more flexibility to make him work next offseason.
Edmonton will have the buyout of Adam Larsson, Kris Russell, Alex Chiasson, Tyson Barrie, Mike Smith and Benoit Pouliot, but they will also have to find a new deal for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who will be UFA, and Kailer Yamamoto, who will be RFA. .
Bringing back Hall is an interesting proposition. To have three Hart Trophy winners in the same roster would be pretty amazing. But it’s hard to imagine the Oilers being able to fit in both Hall and Nugent-Hopkins, so that’s obviously far from inevitable.
It will definitely be something to watch out for all year round. If the Oilers are a legitimate candidate for the trade deadline, they could be one of the teams calling Buffalo and asking for Hall to be acquired as a hire for a playoff run.