Thursday, May 02, 2013

Memo to the Edmonton Oilers organization: Taylor Hall is a winger

With the Edmonton Oilers having yet to address their need for some additional size down the middle of the ice, the yearly calls for moving Taylor Hall to centre have started to make their rounds. While he would likely be more than capable of taking on the role, albeit at a rather steep learning curve, why on earth would the organization even consider move?

Hall is not only coming off his best season to date but also managed to stay relatively healthy, for the first time since being selected first overall by the Oilers at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He finished ninth in league scoring with fifty points in forty-five games and was by far and away, Edmonton's most consistent player on a nightly basis.

Why exactly would you want to mess with that?
This roster has so much currently wrong with it, that it is sometimes hard to keep up. However, moving one of the few reliable and working pieces out of his comfort zone, would be a major blunder on Edmonton's part. Especially considering the player has hinted on numerous occasions, he has no really desire in playing the position.

During last weekend's "Garbage Bag Day" exit interviews with the local media, Taylor was once again asked about the possibility of making the switch for the 2013-14 season. His response was, not surprisingly, less than enthusiastic.

"I don't know. I think I had a pretty good year playing wing so...", said Hall. "I'll do whatever it takes, at this point. If they see me as a centre and we're a winning team with me playing centre, then that's fine by me but... it's whatever they want to do". "I like playing wing, I haven't played centre in a long time, so I can't really say the same for that but whatever they want me to do, I'll do".

Not exactly a ringing endorsement and if you actually go back and listen to the interview, located here, you clearly hear the ton in his voice change, when answering the question. Who can blame him? The kid is coming off a season in which he finished second among scorers in the entire Western Conference and yet talk surrounding him possibly moving to a different position are continually being brought up.

Back in July of 2012, I wrote in this very spot, that there was no rush in trying Hall out and centre and fully expected him to be left on the wing during the 2013 campaign. The former Windsor Spitfires star needed time to not only heal from shoulder surgery but also the opportunity to focus on improving his overall game and staying healthy.

The last thing he needed was the pressure of learning a new position on the fly, without the chance to work on it in the off-season or during a proper training camp. Never mind the fact, that his surgically repaired shoulder likely wouldn't take kindly to taking hundreds of face-offs. In my mind, if they still needed to address the issue come 2013-14, then by all means, give it a shot. I no longer believe that to be true.

The Oilers #4 not only elevated his game to a whole new level this season but has turned himself into one of the premier offensive weapons in the entire National Hockey League. With each passing day, he is becoming more and more of a threat .

Again, I ask the question. Why would you want to mess with that?

He made it quite clear during the aforementioned interview, he would do whatever it takes to help this team win games. I just don't see how limiting the effectiveness of your best player, is a step in that direction. Call me crazy but the kid looks downright frightening playing on the wing.

Here's a novel concept, how about addressing the need via trade or free agency? Creating another hole within the lineup and possibly hurting the production level and overall game of their best player, should not and frankly better not, be an option the Oilers are even considering.

Hall is the guy that makes this team tick, the straw that stirs the proverbial drink. Doing anything to disrupt that, at this stage of the game, would be simply asinine. Forcing a star player into a situation is rarely a good idea and would likely do nothing but create but blood between the player and organization. Something seen far too often in this neck of the wood...especially in recent memory.

When this organization decided to take the now twenty-one year old with that first pick in 2010, they knew what they were getting. If they wanted a centre, they should have selected Tyler Seguin. Pretty straight forward. The fact Hall is turning out to be a rather special talent, doesn't mean you go out and screw around with something that is clearly working.

In my mind, they called out the right name back in 2010 and he is turning out to be one helluva player. Now it is up to Craig MacTavish and the rest of the management team to go out and find the necessary parts, to build around the core piece of this franchise. That piece was and still is...Taylor Hall.

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