The Buffalo Sabres are stuck in a seemingly never-ending nightmare and they could be trading their prized free-agent acquisition to compound matters ahead of the April 12 deadline.
Buffalo fired head coach Ralph Krueger after the team lost its 12th consecutive game, and though the team named Don Granato as his temporary successor, there are several long-term candidates on the market. Now, after signing a one-year, $8-million contract with the Sabres in free agency, the Sabres could move the former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall ahead of the deadline.
"We're open to anything and everything," Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said. "My job is to do anything and everything to make this franchise move in the right direction. I have a very good relationship with (Hall's agent) Darren Ferris and Taylor. Open lines of communication and obviously days are moving forward here, so there will be a lot of conversations around that."
Hall has been arguably the most disappointing player in the NHL this season, posting two goals and 16 points through 28 games, and has failed to elevate the Sabres in any meaningful way as the team has slumped to a 6-18-4 record. At the time of his signing, many wondered why Hall didn't wait for the market to open up to facilitate a larger, more lucrative contract and the Sabres were considered a surprising, yet intriguing destination. Buffalo hired Adams and Krueger ahead of the 2021 season, tasked with fixing the offense, and the team has responded with a league-worst 60 goals thus far.
"Obviously where we are in the standings lends to the fact I'll be getting phone calls or have been getting phone calls on players," Adams said. "Conversations every day. A lot of conversations. Absolutely, this is my job to make sure not only that I'm proactive but listen as well and [am] doing everything I can to move this thing forward."
Hall previously told NHL.com on March 4 that he would be open to a potential trade, although he highlighted a strong relationship with his Sabres teammates and coaching staff. He has a no-movement clause in his contract, so perhaps Hall will have his choice of potential suitors. Although he's been disappointing to date with the Sabres, Hall's elite speed and high-end playmaking could make him a lucrative rental for a potential Cup contender.
"I'm open to anything," Hall said March 4. "It's not like I've had an amazing statistical year by any means so far this year. So just in saying that, I've enjoyed my time here, I've really liked the guys, the coaching staff, the way we're treated as players. And like we said from the start, my agent and myself, we're open to anything.
"I was never treating this as just a one-year thing. I was always coming into it open-minded. We'll have to see what happens here, if there's interest on their side, but, yeah, of course I'm interested."
Buffalo is already without captain Jack Eichel indefinitely due to an upper-body injury and the calvary isn't on the way. A potential Hall trade would be a fitting summary of everything that's gone wrong with the 2021 Sabres.
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