Monday, September 12, 2011

Player Profile - Taylor Hall

While there were some Edmonton Oiler fans that wanted the club to draft Tyler Seguin in the 2010 Entry Draft, the masses wanted the club to take Taylor Hall with their first overall selection. A year later, it is clear that the organization made the right choice by taking the former Windsor Spitfire standout with that first overall pick. I have little doubt that Seguin will have a great NHL career but in Hall the Oilers have a player that will become one of the marquee players in the league and one of the faces of the NHL.

Even though his rookie campaign came to an end after only 65 games, it was evident that he had taken that first step towards becoming a legit NHL player. Hall had his growing pains throughout the season, like most first year players. Be it passing up on scoring chances, struggling with consistency in his D zone coverage or simply taking too long of a shift some nights. Once he became comfortable with the NHL game and the speed at which everything happens out on the ice, he was a different player. After the 20 game mark you could see that his whole mind set seemed to have changed. Hall went from trying to score two goals every time he hit the ice to morphing into a lethal threat each time he came over the boards for the Oilers. To the coaching staffs credit, once that change occurred in his game, he was given much more opportunity and was regularly double shifted. When the kid is on, the more he sees the ice, the better he plays.

There is no question that Hall will be the Edmonton Oilers first line left winger but there is some question as to whom his linemates will be for the coming season. I see the second year Oiler skating alongside Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky on the clubs top line and giving the Oilers the closet thing they've had to a true first line in years. The pairing up of Hall and Hemsky should be a good one and the potential is there for the duo to become something special. Hemsky has never been the easiest player to play with but in his defence he has never had the opportunity to play with a player that has the ability and drive to succeed of a Taylor Hall. The two played together for a short time last season but it was evident they needed time to develop chemistry. Having them start off together in camp will allow them to figure things out early on and be ready for prime time once the puck drops on the 2011-2012 campaign. Hemsky's ability to pass the puck coupled with the speed,shot and finish that Hall brings to the table, will give the sophomore a legitimate chance of reaching the 40 goal mark this season. Seeing top line minutes, both 5-on-5 and on the power play, from the drop of the puck will allow Hall to take that next step towards stardom.

The Edmonton Oilers have been acquiring high end talent, via the entry draft, for some time now. Any club that wishes to compete at an elite level, on a regular basis, has to have a talented core group that are able and willing to share the pressure and push the team to new heights. That being the case, if you look at teams that are considered favourites on a yearly basis, nearly everyone of those clubs have that "horse" that carry the load and have the ability and willingness to do so. The Hawks have Jonathan Toews, the Pens have Sidney Crosby, the Caps have Alex Ovechkin, the Wings have Pavel Datsyuk and so on.

Taylor Hall is a flat out stud and when you consider that he is entering his second NHL season, one can only imagine where he will be in a couple of years as a player. The kid has the pedigree of a winner and refuses to settle for second best. All traits that the aforementioned players have and if the Edmonton Oilers can continue adding the necessary pieces to complete their rebuild, in Tayloer Hall, they have their "horse" to get them to the top.

2011-2012 Prediction:   38 G - 31A - 69 Pts

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