The Boston Bruins don't have a good enough team to pay high costs for star players at the trade deadline. I wrote that Sunday night.
A couple hours later, I was reminded that they could pay a medium cost for what at this point qualifies as a former star player. That's exactly what happened when the B's sent a second-round pick and Anders Bjork to the Sabres for Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar.
That's not a prohibitive cost. It's a smart one if the team wants to improve its roster without sacrificing its best assets.
But, for the second time in a year, let's pump the brakes before we get too carried away with the local team getting a league MVP for little cost.
Hall hasn't been anything special over the last two years. He combined for 16 goals last season between the Devils and Coyotes. More alarmingly, he has just two goals in 37 games this season.
You should get the sense teams aren't crazy about Hall to begin with. Famously, the Oilers only got Adam Larsson when they traded him in the 2016 offseason. Without major interest as a free agent last offseason, Hall took a one-year, $8 million deal with the Sabres. Then, when Hall was made available at the deadline, he didn't yield a first-round pick.
Like with Cam Newton when he came to the Patriots, Hall isn't far removed from being a star. Hall was above a point-a-game pace when his 2018-19 season ended after 33 games. Everything since then has been mediocre, so the Bruins should hope coming to Boston will motivate him.
Then again, Hall was on a one-year deal and playing for a new contract and has only scored two goals in Buffalo. It's tough to tell what will motivate him.
At any rate, this is a smart trade. Are the Bruins suddenly Stanley Cup favorites? No, but if Hall turns into something playing next to David Krejci, he'd give the Bruins one of the goal-scorers they've badly needed this season without costing much.
I say "one of the goal-scorers" because Hall doesn't singlehandedly solve Boston's issues up front. They could still use a top-nine right wing.
The question becomes whether these moves empower the Bruins to take another swing. If a good right wing became available for a first-round pick -- there legitimately doesn't even appear to be one out there right now -- would the Bruins go for it? Do they figure that they've spent enough now that they should go all in?
I say no. I like how they spent, which is a little higher than just making depth moves would cost and they have a potential top-six winger, a potential fourth-line center and a solid defenseman to show for it. I still wouldn't part with a first-round pick or one of their better prospects like Jack Studnicka.
Of the big moves that happened this past week -- Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac for a first, a fourth and two players; Nick Foligno for a first; David Savard for a first -- I'd take the Hall trade for the Bruins given the position they were in. Even if they preferred those other players, spending less made sense for them.
Now it's just a matter of seeing what Hall is.