NHL.com has the fantasy hockey spin on left wing Taylor Hall signing with the Buffalo Sabres and projects his statistics for the 2020-21 season. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.
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Taylor Hall signed a one-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. Hall gains fantasy appeal from this signing compared to his value with the Arizona Coyotes at the end of last season and should be considered a top 50 overall player again with likely exposure to elite center Jack Eichel.
This was a surprising destination for Hall, who turns 29 on Nov. 14, considering the Sabres have the NHL’s longest active Stanley Cup Playoff drought (nine seasons; last appearance: 2011). That said, this is still a great short-term landing spot for Hall, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, because Eichel, the No. 2 pick in the 2015 Draft, finished 15th in standard fantasy leagues last season and still has a higher gear with a better supporting cast. Eichel, who turns 24 on Oct. 28, is now worth considering in the late first round of fantasy drafts after the addition of Hall, especially with the former having the insurance policy of strong chemistry with left wings Victor Olofsson and Jeff Skinner in recent seasons.
Hall, who won the Hart Trophy with 93 points (39 goals, 54 assists) in 76 games for the New Jersey Devils in 2017-18, was limited by injury the following season but was better than a point per game again for the Devils (37 points in 33 games in 2018-19). Hall started last season with New Jersey but was moved to Arizona before the NHL Trade Deadline. He had an underwhelming fantasy season overall based on his high fantasy average draft position (21.8), scoring 52 points (16 goals, 36 assists) in 65 games, including 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 35 games with Arizona after the trade, but is a glaring bounce-back candidate this season after the change of scenery.
With the addition of Hall, one of the more valuable fantasy left wings, Olofsson and/or Skinner will lose some fantasy appeal in the short term because there is now no guarantee that either will play with Eichel at even strength this season. Olofsson, who was tied for second in goals (20) among rookies last season, was especially effective on the first power play (11 power-play goals, tied for 11th in NHL) and is likely to at least keep his spot in those prime situations.
Right wing Sam Reinhart, a restricted free agent, could also take a further step forward if he rounds out the top line with Eichel and Hall. Reinhart, who turns 25 on Nov. 6, has had at least 50 points in each of the past three seasons, including an NHL career-high 65 points (22 goals, 43 assists) in 2018-19, with frequent exposure to Eichel in each of those seasons. But there is a chance Olofsson, another RFA, could switch to right wing to remain on the top line with Eichel, in which case he, rather than Reinhart, would gain value from the addition of Hall.
Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who had the second most points (84 points, 13 goals, 71 assists, in 141 games) by a teenage defenseman in NHL history behind Phil Housley (132 points), gains significant fantasy value from having another elite point producer on the Sabres for him to benefit from. Dahlin, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, is a fixture on Buffalo’s PP1, which will now feature Eichel, Hall, Olofsson and Reinhart.
Dahlin should still be viewed behind the best young players at his position (Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes, Miro Heiskanen) but makes up some ground in the rankings for the upcoming season alone and is worth consideration among the top 10 fantasy defensemen. In keeper and dynasty leagues, the Hall trade does not significantly impact the value of either Eichel or Dahlin because Hall’s contract is only for one season and he could potentially be expendable if the Sabres are not in contention.
Hall can be safely projected for 70-75 points considering he’s had an inconsistent NHL career but has had at least 80 points twice. One knock on Hall fantasy-wise is that he only has one 30-goal season, but he’s likely to exceed that mark if he plays with Eichel for a full season. Skinner had 40 goals in 2018-19 in his contract year after being traded to the Sabres. It’s also worth noting Hall has familiarity with Sabres coach Ralph Krueger, who coached him with the Oilers in 2012-13.
Hall can score at least 25-30 power-play points this season considering he had 37 PPP with the Devils in 2017-18, and the Sabres led the League with the man-advantage as recently as 2016-17 (24.5 percent in Eichel’s second season). Hall also has a high shot volume with three seasons of at least 250 SOG (NHL career-high 286 in 2015-16 with Oilers) and will make the Sabres much more attractive in terms of team fantasy value this season.
Projection: 82 games, 31 goals, 42 assists, 73 points, 29 PPP, 245 SOG
Draft range in 12-team fantasy league: Rounds 4 or 5 (picks 37-60)
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