The Boston Bruins reportedly were among the teams in the mix for free agent winger Taylor Hall, but that's no longer an option for the Original Six club after he signed with the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night.
Hall confirmed to TSN's Pierre LeBrun that it's a one-year, $8 million contract with the Sabres. It was a surprising move given Hall's recent comments about wanting to win and the Sabres being one of the worst teams in the NHL for the last eight years.
So, where do the Bruins go to upgrade their scoring depth with Hall off the market?
There are still a couple of quality wingers available in free agency with Boston having around $12 million in salary cap space.
The top left wing available is Mike Hoffman. The 30-year-old forward is a consistent scorer who's tallied 20-plus goals in six consecutive seasons. He's averaged 28.2 goals per season over that span and posted 59 points (29 goals, 30 assists) in 69 games for the Florida Panthers during the 2019-20 campaign.
It should be pointed out that a good chunk of Hoffman's offensive production comes on the power play. The Bruins had the second-best power play last season and struggled to score goals at 5-on-5 during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Still, Hoffman would be an upgrade over Jake DeBrusk at second line left wing next to veteran center David Krejci.
The other top wingers on the market are mostly right wings. The Bruins have a greater need at left wing because they already have David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase and newly signed Craig Smith on the right side.
Tyler Toffoli is among the best right wings still unsigned. He has four 20-goal seasons since making his debut in 2012-13, and he also has played in 54 career playoff games with a 2014 Stanley Cup title as a member of the Los Angeles Kings. Toffoli scored 24 goals this past season between the Kings and Vancouver Canucks. He's also one of the younger top-six caliber wingers available at 28 years old.
Evgenii Dadonov is the other top-tier right winger on the market. He's scored 25 or more goals in three consecutive seasons for the Panthers. The 31-year-old veteran also tallied a career-high 11 power-play goals last year.
Mikael Granlund could be a cheaper option for the B's. He would bring valuable versatility with his ability to produce at left wing and center. He's a good playmaker and could contribute to the second power play unit. Granlund is coming off a disappointing 2019-20 season during which he posted just 30 points (17 goals, 13 assists) in 63 games, so he's a possible bounce-back candidate as well.
The Bruins also could just re-sign restricted free agent left winger Jake DeBrusk. He's averaged 20 goals over the last three seasons but is frustratingly inconsistent. Boston must also decide whether to re-sign two of its free agent defensemen, Zdeno Chara (UFA) and Matt Grzelcyk (RFA).
There's no question the Bruins must upgrade their top six forward group before next season. Secondary scoring was a huge weakness for the B's in the playoffs, and while the Smith signing was a very good move, it's not going to address this issue for Boston by itself.