Frozen Tool Forensics: What is Buffalo’s Hall?

Chris Kane

2020-10-16

You've probably heard by now that Taylor Hall has signed a deal to play in Buffalo. The surprising nature of the choice and the deal has led to a plethora of takes and articles. Dobber is no different with some references here, here, and here. It got me thinking though, this isn't the first time a big-name winger has made a move (or been moved) to play with a big-name center. We are all drooling over the possibility of a point bonanza coming from both Hall and Jack Eichel, but is that how it has worked in the past? What has happened when other big names have been on the move.

To start, let's do a little level setting. Hall has played ten seasons in the NHL by the time of this move, so we have had quite a bit of time to get to know him. He has had four seasons at an 85+ point pace, two seasons at a 90+ point pace and one 100-point pace season (2017-18). Jack Eichel has just completed his fifth season, has increased his point pace every season and ended the 2019-20 season with a 94-point pace. It represents the highest of his career and the second time he has broken a point-per-game pace.

Hall himself would be a logical place to start for a comparison. He moved from Edmonton to New Jersey in 2016-17. In that year he put up 53 points in 72 games, or a 60-point pace. That is not encouraging, however in that case he didn't have a center like Eichel. He played primarily with Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique down the middle and while they are certainly serviceable, they are not Eichel. Hall's most productive seasons came while being centered by Nico Hischier who represents an improvement generally but still has never broken a 56-point pace himself. So it seems, unfortunately there isn't a perfect analogous situation in Hall's own career. With that we turn to other NHL com