Taylor Hall, Olympian

Jonathan Willis
August 28 2013 10:03AM

No less an authority than the TSN panel has predicted that the Edmonton Oilers best player, Taylor Hall, will be sitting at home watching the Olympic games rather than representing Canada in Sochi.

Here’s why they’re wrong.

TSN’s Roster

TSN’s left wing depth chart consists of Chris Kunitz, Rick Nash, converted centre Logan Couture, and Patrick Sharp. With all due respect to those four, there’s simply no way that Hall shouldn’t be part of that group.

The Competition

Chris Kunitz bafflingly gets the top left wing position on the team. The only possible defence of that ranking is that he has familiarity playing with Sidney Crosby, and it’s a terrible defence because presumably it isn’t difficult to look good playing on a line with the best player in the world. Kunitz has spent approximately 75% of his even-strength the last three years centered by either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin; Taylor Hall has done it with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner and Shawn Horcoff, players that aren’t exactly comparable. Despite being in the prime of his career and on a line with two of hockey’s five best players, somehow Kunitz has a worse point-per-game rate over the last three seasons than Hall, who was breaking into the league and playing in a tougher conference to boot. In three previous seasons Kunitz has hovered around a 60-point pace, so this last year was likely a one-off and if his scoring drops back to his established level nobody will be talking about him as an Olympian.

Rick Nash is likely a better choice for the top left wing position than Chris Kunitz. The 29 year-old is a veteran of international play, having represented Canada at two Olympic games, four World Championships and a World Junior tournament. Interestingly, like Kunitz, his points-per-game rate is actually less than Hall’s over the last three seasons, but he is more of a goal-scorer and arguably more of a complete player at this point in time.

Logan Couture, the converted centre, is another player who finds himself falling just short of Hall’s point-per-game pace over the last three seasons. He has an advantage in that he’s perceived as a better positional defender than Hall but a disadvantage in being a lesser skater and having less experience internationally (Couture has represented Canada only at the under-18’s back in 2006-07). Couture is an exceptional player – and a Corsi monster – but he both doesn’t tilt the ice the way Hall does in terms of out-shooting the opposition and he doesn’t come close to having the same level of offensive dynamism that Hall does. On a team loaded to the gills with converted centres, Couture’s positional strengths defensively shouldn’t trump Hall’s superior ability to drive results in his natural position.

Patrick Sharp should, barring a major drop-off, be on this team. A versatile skater who can play any position, he is both a dynamic offensive player and a skilled defensive forward. He’s coming off a tough year – he really struggled on a line with Dave Bolland for half the season, though he was fine with other centres – but he’s been excellent in the past and shouldn’t be a controversial choice.

Taylor Hall

Taylor Hall is coming off a remarkable season, even by Canadian Olympic team standards. No Canadian player in the lower-scoring Western Conference put up more points than Hall; in terms of even-strength scoring per hour only Jonathan Toews (3.19 PTS/60) had a better rate than Hall (3.15 PTS/60) in the West. Hall finished eighth overall in Relative Corsi league-wide last season and was 20th overall the year before that. In his first three seasons in the league, he’s clear of every Canadian left wing other than 41 year-old Ray Whitney in terms of points-per-game, despite the fact that he’s just started his career and has played for a pretty awful team.

Hall is a special player. He’s Canada’s best scoring left wing at the age of 21 despite playing in the West and there’s a pretty decent case that no other Canadian left wing drives out-shooting the way he does when he’s on the ice. He took a leap forward last year and was the best left wing in the NHL, despite Chris Kunitz's nod as first-team All-Star.

Hall will, barring injury, be a fixture on future Canadian Olympic teams but he’s good enough to play for them right now, and if he picks up where he left off the team’s management will have no choice but to include him.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Jets Nation, Kevin McCartney steps in from his vacation to imagine what the team's lines might look like if Mark Scheifele is ready to go at training camp:

Despite the many claims (even by me) that Jokinen and Schiefele will be auditioning for the same job of 2C, we can imagine this team organized in such a way as to reveal a hole at centre. Moving Tangradi outside the top-9, Frolik could take his LW role - if only the team had another centre. Does Eric O'Dell get a look for a soft-minutes assignment there? Is that Nic Petan's job down the line? What does the team do when Grabovski is a free agent again next year?

Click the link above to read more (includingthe lines Mccartney settled on), or check out some of my recent stuff:

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#101 DSF
August 29 2013, 11:58AM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

If you were an honest broker all manor of conversations would be possible.

As it stands, you are not and have never demonstrated a serious interest in understanding any facts not serving your own emotional needs.

In other words...you've got nothing.

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#102 Release the Hounds
August 29 2013, 12:25PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

Taylor Hall doesn't get the respect he deserves. From the All-Star selections to Lindy Ruff at the worlds to TSN's Team Canada selections. (Maybe those are the only examples but I'm going to pretend there are a lot more because I'm really angry)

Hall is a super competitive guy and things like these will only push him to be better. He will force his way on to Team Canada.

IMHO, it's not only Taylor Hall who doesn't get the respect he deserves. The entire Oilers team (as an organization and individual players) doesn't get any respect, be it from the NHL office, NHL officials, the "Professional" Hockey Writers Assoc., Hockey Canada and the other 29 NHL teams. The Oilers remind me of the 110 lb. weakling in the old Charles Atlas, constantly getting sand kicked in his face. As a Oilers fan since 1979, I am so looking forward to a time where our team will send a big "How do you do" to all these "bullies" by again becoming a dominant force and perennial winner in this league. GO OILERS!

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#103 Clyde Frog
August 29 2013, 12:28PM
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@DSF

Angrily scratching a line across yet another name in his secret list of possible internet friends, DSF yells upstairs to mother, "More sandwiches! I need more Sandwiches!!! There is someone being wrong on the internet, I can't possibly waste time making them!"

Cursing under his breath, DSF reaches for his collage of the Minnesota Wild's Stanley Cup celebration in 2013. He had spent the last several weeks cutting and pasting various photos from magazines he had mother bring home for him, into what he knew should have happened.

Stroking the collage reassuringly he softly whispers to it, "I know you should have one, I painstakingly played every game last season with my Cheeto's to verify it! You were robbed! It was rigged! I booked it for Pete's sake!"

Hearing the chiming sound of mother lowering his sandwiches down the laundry chute, he allows himself one last longing glance at his masterpiece before trundling over and eating second, second lunch.

He glances at the latest comments and brushes them off quickly, he has no time for real arguments! There are sandwiches to eat!

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#104 mayorblaine
August 29 2013, 12:52PM
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DSF drives so much traffic on this site that he should be, if he isn't, employed by ON.

right or wrong, you all bite. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

love it.

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#105 Zamboni Driver
August 29 2013, 01:17PM
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@Release the Hounds

Come on. I'm a fan of the team, but really why would they get any respect....they have sucked for almost all of the last 20 years.

You really think stalwarts like Fernando Pisani, Steve Kelly and Rem Murray should have had more respect?

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#106 oilerman53
August 29 2013, 01:52PM
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@DSF

Hockey is played on the ice and not a computer, Hall will never get his due simply because he plays in Edmonton. He was the second most effective offensive forward in the West last year. Better then Sedin x2, Kesler and whoever else your stats can bring up. 51 points in what, 45 games?

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#107 DSF
August 29 2013, 03:10PM
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oilerman53 wrote:

@DSF

Hockey is played on the ice and not a computer, Hall will never get his due simply because he plays in Edmonton. He was the second most effective offensive forward in the West last year. Better then Sedin x2, Kesler and whoever else your stats can bring up. 51 points in what, 45 games?

There's more than scoring points to winning hockey games.

For example, preventing them is just as important.

Hall scored more than Toews last season.

Is he a better hockey player?

No, he isn't.

He also scored more than Kopitar last season.

Is he a better hockey player?

No, he isn't.

There are many other examples.

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#108 geoilersgist
August 29 2013, 03:12PM
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DSF wrote:

No one suggested it is the "only stat that matters" but it is likely one that the team brass are looking at.

You used primarily scoring and Corsi Rel to make your original point while ignoring a host of other factors.

No one disputes Hall's scoring ability but Corsi Rel, as you know, measures how Hall stacked up against his own team mates.

That doesn't tell us much of anything since the rest of the team was dreadful.

If you're, then basing your argument merely on scoring prowess, I wonder how you feel about Corey Perry not being selected?

Over the past 3 seasons:

Perry: 102G 98A 300P

Hall: 65G 80A 145P

Clearly, team management is making their decisions based on more than pure scoring ability which is likely wise.

The "chemistry" argument being used to support the Kunitz selection is a little weak in my opinion but I think it'll take a little more than scoring to overcome it.

I have no doubt that Hall can play his way onto the team if he improves his 200 foot game and I'm sure they've told Hall what he needs to do so now it's up to him.

Where in the h e double hockey sticks did you get those stats? Perry in the last three years has scored 194 points... What do I know though I'm not an Internet genius that makes up stats on the fly...

In all seriousness though do you ever look anything up before you start posting stats? Especially something so simple as plain points?

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#109 Clyde Frog
August 29 2013, 04:00PM
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@geoilersgist

DSf scoffs!

Who has time to look up and verify stats! DSF Knows stats!

He has books upon books of stats he has written, some so complicated HE can't even remember what they measured...

After investing so many Saturday nights in their creation how can one dare to question the veracity of his stats!

Well they can't... DSF safely ignores this comment, reassured that no-one could possibly hold him to it.

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#110 The Soup Fascist
August 29 2013, 04:50PM
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DSF wrote:

No one suggested it is the "only stat that matters" but it is likely one that the team brass are looking at.

You used primarily scoring and Corsi Rel to make your original point while ignoring a host of other factors.

No one disputes Hall's scoring ability but Corsi Rel, as you know, measures how Hall stacked up against his own team mates.

That doesn't tell us much of anything since the rest of the team was dreadful.

If you're, then basing your argument merely on scoring prowess, I wonder how you feel about Corey Perry not being selected?

Over the past 3 seasons:

Perry: 102G 98A 300P

Hall: 65G 80A 145P

Clearly, team management is making their decisions based on more than pure scoring ability which is likely wise.

The "chemistry" argument being used to support the Kunitz selection is a little weak in my opinion but I think it'll take a little more than scoring to overcome it.

I have no doubt that Hall can play his way onto the team if he improves his 200 foot game and I'm sure they've told Hall what he needs to do so now it's up to him.

I know the Alberta school system has some flaws and I don't pretend to be a rocket surgeon but I have added it up a few times and every time I am getting 102 + 98 = 200 ..... not 300.

Is there some crazy British Columbia tax you are adding on to Perry's point totals?

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#111 Harry
August 29 2013, 08:56PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

I'm really glad you brought this back, Clyde Frog.

HAHAAHAAAA!!!! BRILLIANT

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#112 Harry
August 29 2013, 09:07PM
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Clyde Frog wrote:

Letting out a sob of relief DSF took a moment to quietly reflect on his absolute victory!

The last 12 hours of Googling had worked, he finally had definitive proof that Taylor Hall is a Canadian bust! It had taken a lot of work to look past and ignore all the other "stats" his "fans" kept bringing out... Such as points and a full suite of other advanced stats; but he had done it!

Finally he had a stat that proved what he knew deep down in his heart, Taylor Hall just isn't any good.

Hitting refresh 17 more times, he contentedly waits for his new internet worshipers to heap praise and other accolades on his mighty shoulders.

His eyes light up with a mad gleam, "What!?!" he bellows... Someone has dared to look at how his mighty stat factored into the past!? This will not stand!

Writing out his well thought out response he clicks the post button and trundles off to his secret thoughts journal, where he promptly places a single bold line through the name Racki; forever removing him from friend contention... That is if he ever sees the need to leave the mighty bachelor pad he has built that is his mother's basement.

Cracking a new can of Dr.Pepper he savors the sweet aroma and contentedly starts planning out the parade Oilers Nation will throw him once they come to recognize his utter genius in all things Hockey.

Sorry....This is what I was refering to as BRILLIANT. To damn funny! Well done sir!!

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#113 oilerman53
August 30 2013, 01:24AM
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DSF wrote:

There's more than scoring points to winning hockey games.

For example, preventing them is just as important.

Hall scored more than Toews last season.

Is he a better hockey player?

No, he isn't.

He also scored more than Kopitar last season.

Is he a better hockey player?

No, he isn't.

There are many other examples.

CorsiRel or ON 5x5 only tell part of a story. I think you're just reaching now, stats? If you like stats so much go watch baseball, next you'll be bringing up Hall vs Tavares based on play after American Thanksgiving on an EST late start in Long Island the night after a Bob Seger concert!

I swear to god dude you gotta be Glenn Healy or Mark Lee. Hall put up a play that won't show on any stat except his suspension record when he destroyed Clutterbuck. Since then he went from being a kid to a MAN.

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#114 Impartial Oilers Fan
August 30 2013, 01:11PM
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DSF wrote:

"All relevant stats"?

Which ones?

Let's start with CorsiOn.

Taylor Hall - +2.79.

183rd in the league.

124th among forwards.

31st among left wingers.

How about CorsiRel QofC?

Taylor Hall - .585

185th in the league

124th among forwards

36th among left wingers.

There's no doubt Hall can score...his P/60 5V5 is 6th best among forwards in the league behind Crosby, Staal, Kadri (hmmm), Kunitz, and Toews.

But I'm curious what "relevant stats" you are using to support your narrative that Hall is one of the best two way players in the game?

Can someone give me solid reasoning as to why Taylor Hall's point total and specifically this point/game pace is being used a baseline, rather than what it was, simply a very good season?

Taylor Halls had a 94.3% IPP last season. This is off the charts for any star player in the NHL. Crosby had a 80.9% last season, Ovechkin had a 73%. And furthermore, for reference sake, Hall had a 75.6% the year previously.

Hall obviously received more lucky assists than he can predictably project to get in future seasons. Yet everyone keeps talking about how his point per game was one of the best in the NHL last year, and because of that (SKEWED) fact, he should be a lock for the Olympic team?? Really?

That doesn't even bare in mind that there will be centre's playing on the wing for Team Canada.

I'm an Oilers fan and I don't understand how the Oil Country's consistent role in encouraging entitlement, ESPECIALLY of Hall and Yakupov.

What does it hurt to have Hall earn a spot on Team Canada, rather than bitch and complain that he wasn't a lock?! Especially, since its been constantly stated by Team Canada brass, that they want skills guys but not at the expense of good defensive play. If you believe Hall is always making good decisions with and without the puck, you obviously didn't see Hall's play at the World Championships without Oiler rose coloured glasses on.

Bottom line, let him earn a spot on Team Canada rather than some claim he's a lock after a short season, where he got more points while he was on the ice than will likely be sustainable.

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