Bruins trade former Hart Trophy winner Hall to Blackhawks

The Boston Bruins have traded former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Hall and forward Nick Foligno were sent to the Blackhawks on Monday for the rights to defensemen Ian Mitchell and Alec Regula, who are restricted free agents.

The move gives the Blackhawks a top-line winger they can pair with long-presumptive No. 1 pick Connor Bedard, who is expected to be taken by Chicago in the NHL draft on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Blackhawks announced that they had agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with Foligno. Foligno was expected to become an unrestricted free agent.

“We are thrilled to add players of the caliber of Nick and Taylor to our organization,” Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said in a news release. “Both bring a wealth of experience and leadership that will not only strengthen our forward group, but aid in the development of our entire roster.”

As far as the Bruins are concerned, moving on from Hall creates much-needed cap space. The website CapFriendly estimated the Bruins had less than $5 million in available space entering Monday, with eight unrestricted and two restricted free agents. The group includes captain Patrice Bergeron, who said he was undecided over his future after the Bruins were ousted in the first round of the 2023 playoffs by the Florida Panthers.

Clearing Hall’s contract when trading Foligno’s rights means the Bruins now have about $11 million in available cap space.

Although draft week has largely focused on the Blackhawks officially drafting Bedard, Chicago entered the week with $37.5 million in cap space. Only the Anaheim Ducks had more room to add players.

This type of flexibility allowed the Blackhawks to get ahead of a tight window in the Hall in which the draft and free agency start within days of each other. Several teams are expected to make trades in exchange for a weaker free agent market than in previous years.

Getting Hall, who scored 16 goals and 36 points in 61 games last season, is more than giving Bedard an experienced top-line winger. It gives him a partner who knows the expectations that come with being picked No. 1, as Hall went to the Edmonton Oilers the first time around in 2010.

The 31-year-old Hall is a seven-time 20-goal scorer who won the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player after scoring 39 goals and 93 points during the 2017-18 season to lead the New Jersey Devils to the playoffs. ,

Hall, who also played for the Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres, was traded to the Bruins during the 2020–21 season. He scored 111 points in 158 regular season games overall with the Bruins, as well as 17 points in 25 playoff games.

Although Hall was a productive top-six forward, the Bruins were expected to make a move to ease their cap problem with the belief that he could be one of the players on the way out.

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 would have earned him $3.8 million annually. Foligno will give the Blackhawks another option on the power play that can be part of the penalty kill, as he was before going to the Bruins.

As far as the Bruins are concerned, their new found cap space will allow them to meet their needs knowing that they will have to make contract decisions on pending UFA signings like Tyler Bertuzzi, David Krejci and Dmitry Orlov.

Mitchell and Regula join the Bruins’ pending RFA class that includes Trent Fredericks and Jeremy Swayman, both of whom made significant contributions as the two youngest players on the Bruins’ roster.

The same may be true for Michele and Regula. Mitchell, 24, who was coached by Boston’s Jim Montgomery at the University of Denver, a second-round pick in 2017, has split time between the AHL and the NHL since leaving after his junior season. Mitchell had eight points in 35 games with the Blackhawks last season and has 16 points in 82 games in his NHL career.

Regula, 22, was selected in the third round of 2018 by the Detroit Red Wings, who were 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 made a four-game cameo with the Blackhawks.

Boston general manager Don Sweeney was busy completing a minor league swap of restricted free agents immediately following the Hall trade. The Bruins traded Shane Bowers to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for defenseman Reilly Walsh.

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