Left winger Taylor Hall has signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres, the team announced Sunday.
Hall, 28, was the most coveted unrestricted free-agent forward available this offseason, and he spent the weekend listening to pitches from at least a half-dozen teams.
Choosing the Sabres is a surprising move, considering Hall has said his No. 1 priority is the chance to win a Stanley Cup. The Sabres have not made the playoffs since 2011, the longest drought in the NHL.
When asked in August what he thought was most important as he shaped his free-agent decision, Hall told reporters: “I think, honestly, it’s probably all winning.”
Hall has played in only 14 postseason games in his 10-year NHL career.
In Buffalo, Hall is expected to play on the wing alongside Jack Eichel.
“Awesome signing!” Eichel wrote in a text to ESPN’s John Buccigross after news broke that Hall was headed to Buffalo.
Hall is familiar with Sabres coach Ralph Krueger, having played briefly for him in Edmonton during the 2012-13 season.
Hall was open to all proposals from teams on short- or long-term deals, a source told ESPN. However, the one-year commitment represents the biggest trend in this year’s free-agency period. Many players are taking short-term deals, a reflection of uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the salary cap remaining flat at $81.5 million.
Hall won the 2018 Hart Trophy as league MVP while with the New Jersey Devils. The Devils failed to make the postseason the following season, and they traded Hall to the Arizona Coyotes in December, as the Devils weren’t in playoff position and realized they were not likely to sign Hall to a long-term contract.
The No. 1 pick of the 2010 draft spent the first six years of his career in Edmonton before being traded to New Jersey in 2016 for defenseman Adam Larsson. In 10 NHL seasons, Hall has scored 218 goals and 563 points in 627 career games. He put up a career-high 39 goals in his 2017-18 MVP season.