NHL Trades: Bruins land Taylor Hall and Penguins acquire Jeff Carter as East playoff races tighten

All the top teams in the East Division are making their moves. The Islanders kicked it off first by acquiring Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac for their playoff run. Lou Lamoriello was at it again late yesterday when he traded for Braydon Coburn to bolster his defense.

Now two more teams answer the call to arms as the Bruins found a way to add Taylor Hall and the Penguins traded for veteran forward Jeff Carter in the middle of the night. Your move Capitals. How about you Flyers? Do the Rangers have a response? Let’s break down the late trade action.

Bruins acquire Taylor Hall from Sabres

I had ruled out Boston because there was clear indication that GM Don Sweeney was not going to part with a first round pick which was the rumored ask for weeks. In the end he didn’t but he sent over a young player with great upside in Anders Bjork instead. If Hall can regain his scoring touch the Bruins will have answered their critics of being a one line team.

The Bruins also picked up forward Curtis Lazar in the trade which provides them with depth as well. All and all this was a heck of a deal for a struggling Boston squad that is long in the tooth and needed to add without giving up their first round pick.

Penguins acquire Jeff Carter from Kings

Mar 22, 2021; San Jose, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter (77) controls the puck during the third period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

GM Ron Hextall called some friends out in L.A. and opted to take on a player with some term in Jeff Carter. Here’s the deal as described on the Penguins website:

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired forward Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for conditional 2022 third-round and 2023 fourth-round draft picks, it was announced today by general manager Ron Hextall.

Carter, 36, is signed through the 2021-22 season and his contract carries an average annual value of $5,272,727. Los Angeles will retain 50% of Carter’s salary.

This is the size and grit they were looking for. Carter is 6-3 and 219 pounds with no fear of playing it rough in the offensive zone. For the season, Carter has amassed 19 points in 40 games. He can fill in for Evgeni Malkin at center and then shift to wing in a top six role if coach Mike Sullivan so desires.

A great low-key move by the Penguins here to get quality veteran depth for the playoffs.

Your move Washington Capitals

The Capitals have been rumored to be in on a few players that have already gone off the board. Aside from goaltending insurance, I haven’t heard too much with regards to the Caps. Now that they know Henrik Lundqvist won’t be able to come back this season will they pull the deal on a goalie? Darcy Kuemper is still available, or do they call the Kings and ask about Jonathan Quick? The Caps simply don’t have many holes and their goaltending has been decent. However, with the other three likely playoff candidates all beefing up will that force GM Brian MacLellan’s hands? We will see today.

Two intriguing East teams in the playoff hunt are the Flyers and Rangers. Philadelphia could be duking it out with the Caps for a goalie. The Flyers also need defense so it’s possible they may look to make a big move there. As for the Rangers, I spoke with a source for Forever Blueshirts that indicated if they were to make any moves it would be purely a hockey deal. Jeff Gorton is not interested in a rental or selling off some of his pending free agents.