What’s next for the Bruins after the Taylor Hall trade from the Blackhawks?

The Boston Bruins were expected to be a busy team this week with the 2023 NHL Draft scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, and the start of free agency scheduled for Saturday.

And the fireworks have already started.

The Bruins traded left wing Taylor Hall and the UFA rights of forward Nick Foligno to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday in exchange for minor league defensemen Alec Regula and Ian Mitchell. Mitchell played under B head coach Jim Montgomery at the University of Denver.

Boston withheld no salary from that deal, meaning general manager Don Sweeney forfeited $6 million in salary for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons. In short, this move represents a wage dump.

Why trade Hall?

Movement is not performance based. Hall was a solid contributor for the Bs. He had 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 61 games last season, then was Boston’s second-leading forward in the playoffs with eight points (five goals, three assists ) in seven games in the first-round loss to the Florida Panthers.

The real reason to trade Hall was his $6 million salary cap.

Wiping that number off the books gives the Bruins much-needed salary cap space. Prior to this trade, the Bs had just under $5 million in cap space with more than 10 of their own players eligible for free agency on July 1. Now the Bruins have about $11 million in cap space. Hall gives the Blackhawks a great left winger to put on a line with first draft pick Connor Bedard next season.

So what’s next for the Bruins?

The priority should be re-signing Tyler Bertuzzi, who is able to enter the market as an unrestricted free agent on Saturday afternoon. The Bruins have reportedly “explored” ways to keep Bertuzzi. He could potentially command as much as $5.5-7 million per season in his next contract, and the Bruins now have the cap space to make it happen.

The Bruins have just six forwards signed for next season as a result of the Hall trade. It wouldn’t make much sense to trade a very good left winger to Hall unless the Bruins were confident they could also re-sign Bertuzzi, who can play both left wing and fullback. ‘right wing. Bertuzzi is also two years younger than Hall.

The Bruins acquired Bertuzzi from the Detroit Red Wings on March 2 in exchange for a 2024 first-round pick (top-10 protected) and a 2025 fourth-round pick. Bertuzzi quickly became an excellent candidate for Boston. He finished with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 21 regular season games after the trade, then was Boston’s leading forward in the playoffs with 10 points (five goals, five assists) against the Panthers .

Bertuzzi, in many ways, is a perfect image of Bruin. He plays an edgy style of hockey. He goes to dirty areas to win puck battles and score goals. His game is fantastic and is not recognized enough. He had 12 assists in his last 12 games last season, including the playoffs. Bertuzzi also had terrific chemistry with superstar right-winger David Pastrnak. If healthy for a full season, Bertuzzi could be a 30-goal, 30-assist player.

Bringing Bertuzzi back would be a great move for the Bruins, and now they have the cap space to do so with Hall traded to the Blackhawks. The clock is ticking, however. If the Bruins allow Bertuzzi into free agency, there could be plenty of competition for his services.

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