TAYLOR HALL, OFF TO MARS

Lowetide
September 10 2013 05:47PM

 

To hear some people talk, Taylor Hall's move from wing to center is a radical thing, something that should be avoided at all costs, mistrusted. Folks, this isn't handing lead guitar to Bill Wyman, Taylor Hall can play. There's every chance he'll do well in the middle. The more interesting question is this: should he stay at center if it works? 

I mentioned this the other day, and I do think it's worth pursuing. If the Oilers move Hall to C and it works well, there's every reason to keep him there after the Nuge returns. Craig MacTavish arrived with a mandate to "build up the middle" and a top 3C of Hall, Nuge and Boyd Gordon does it in style.  

It also opens up all kinds of options on the wing (where have you gone, Teemu Hartikainen) and it could mean more minutes and opportunity for some wingers. 

POSSIBLE TOP 9F (C-L-R)

  • Hall-Gagner-Eberle: The Hall/Eberle WOWY (With or without you, it's here) is sublime.
  • Nuge-Perron-Yakupov: Nuge gets the new hire and the Russian, that's some major firepower. 
  • Gordon-Smyth-Hemsky: You may prefer Omark, I'll go with Smyth. This could be a quality veteran line. 

You can mix and match, there's some nice possibilities here and if Hemsky catches fire he could move up the depth chart in a hurry. You might have to protect the 2line, but Perron is a veteran and the Nuge is a demon on the backcheck. 

IT'LL NEVER WORK!

He's not going to Mars, he's taking out center for a spin. Taylor Hall is among the best forwards in the NHL. Full stop. The idea of Hall playing at center with Nuge on the 2line for the next 15 years is a wonderful dream--and it could be a reality if he can make the switch. The only barrier is (lack of) experience and Hall's adjusted to everything the NHL has thrown at him so far. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

This isn't a trip to Mars. I think the idea of Hall at center solves all kinds of issues. If it doesn't work, put him back at LW where he has the best future available. If he can play center?

MUSIC!

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
Avatar
#1 John Chambers
September 10 2013, 06:10PM
Trash it!
60
trashes
+1
13
props

The other part of this equation is Gagner and Smid getting traded for a top D (Byfuglien?), and replacing 89 with a Steve Ott / Troy Brouwer type.

Make it happen.

Avatar
#2 DSF
September 10 2013, 09:19PM
Trash it!
56
trashes
+1
4
props
Walter Sobchak wrote:

Including how they dominated Suter & the Wild the last few times they played them.

Was a beautiful thing to watch.

You might want to check last season's record against the Wild.

Avatar
#3 oilbaron
September 10 2013, 05:51PM
Trash it!
37
trashes
+1
3
props

Oh really ;)

Avatar
#4 DSF
September 10 2013, 09:58PM
Trash it!
24
trashes
+1
14
props
Serious Gord wrote:

LT: your Bill Wyman analogy is NOT apt.

A more appropriate one would be moving a third baseman over to second base. Yes the skills are similar, but range and turning the double play are more important at second whereas reflexes and arm strength are the key issues at second. Hall may very well be an adequate centre, but clearly his best attributes are best suited to the wing.

As a stopgap sure, what choice - at this point - does the team really have?

But after RNH returns we still have a 2C who doesn't fit this team and who MacT adores and has signed a contract that if gagner continues his streaky behaviour and other bad habits will make him as unmarketable as Hemsky.

A bloody mess that has long been understood and yet we start the season as weak at center as the team finished last season. A month in the playoffs might already be far-fetched as a result.

This.

Going into the last two seasons, the Oilers were lacking TWO top pairing D, an above average goaltender and a #2C.

Going into this next season, the Oilers still have the same holes.

Loading up on 5-9 defensemen certainly is better than the alternative, signing another journeyman goaltender and replacing Horcoff with Gordon are certainly not negative but the team needs remain the same.

Not getting insurance at C while Hopkins status is questionable is baffling.

Avatar
#5 Brian
September 10 2013, 06:34PM
Trash it!
20
trashes
+1
19
props

Don't worry about Smyth. We will find out very early that his foot speed is off the charts--negatively. Full stop.

Avatar
#6 Serious Gord
September 10 2013, 09:42PM
Trash it!
16
trashes
+1
5
props

LT: your Bill Wyman analogy is NOT apt.

A more appropriate one would be moving a third baseman over to second base. Yes the skills are similar, but range and turning the double play are more important at second whereas reflexes and arm strength are the key issues at second. Hall may very well be an adequate centre, but clearly his best attributes are best suited to the wing.

As a stopgap sure, what choice - at this point - does the team really have?

But after RNH returns we still have a 2C who doesn't fit this team and who MacT adores and has signed a contract that if gagner continues his streaky behaviour and other bad habits will make him as unmarketable as Hemsky.

A bloody mess that has long been understood and yet we start the season as weak at center as the team finished last season. A month in the playoffs might already be far-fetched as a result.

Avatar
#7 Oilerz4life
September 10 2013, 06:20PM
Trash it!
15
trashes
+1
7
props

The diagram thing is off. It shows C,L,R. Hall, Gagner, Eberle. That would mean pulling Gagner out of center and putting him at wing?! Also, you have Smyth slotted in on the third line with Gordon and Hemsky. We all know Smytty is on the forth line slotted in as press box/associate coach Paul Newman player coaching position.

Avatar
Trash it!
15
trashes
+1
9
props

If I remember

correctly. Messier was

a winger at first

Avatar
#9 Geitus Maximus
September 10 2013, 08:25PM
Trash it!
10
trashes
+1
4
props

I really hope Taylor at center works out as that leads to amazing line combos. I think we saw Yak really starting to take off the last 15 games of last year. Nuge, Yak and Perron, wow, that is probably the first line or at least 1B. But how strong will the 3 rd line be? Much stronger as Lowetide postulated. This needs serious consideration and Im sure it will. Eakins isn't married to the staus quo lines of years past. How about Omark, Gordon, Hemsky? Now we would have a 3 rd line that does more than kill time and get clobbered.

Avatar
#10 Geitus Maximus
September 10 2013, 08:25PM
Trash it!
10
trashes
+1
1
props

I really hope Taylor at center works out as that leads to amazing line combos. I think we saw Yak really starting to take off the last 15 games of last year. Nuge, Yak and Perron, wow, that is probably the first line or at least 1B. But how strong will the 3 rd line be? Much stronger as Lowetide postulated. This needs serious consideration and Im sure it will. Eakins isn't married to the staus quo lines of years past. How about Omark, Gordon, Hemsky? Now we would have a 3 rd line that does more than kill time and get clobbered.

Avatar
#11 Sean17
September 10 2013, 08:43PM
Trash it!
9
trashes
+1
7
props

This would require Hall to keep his head up even more... Sounds like a concussion waiting to happen...

Avatar
#12 cabaj
September 10 2013, 10:20PM
Trash it!
9
trashes
+1
6
props

Assuming Hall dominates at center, would it make sense to push Gagner to 3C once Nuge is back? It gets a little bit messy, but sure solidifies the middle and would bode well for a team that Eakin's has focused on puck possesion.

Perron - Hall - Yakupov
Omark - Nuge - Eberle
Smyth - Gagner - Hemsky
Joensuu - Gordon - Jones

Yakupov - Hall - Eberle
Perron - Nuge - Hemsky
Smyth - Gagner - Omark
Joensuu - Gordon - Jones

Yes... that would be $7.5MM for 3/4C but hey... it might work.

Avatar
#13 Walter Sobchak
September 10 2013, 08:41PM
Trash it!
8
trashes
+1
13
props
Lowetide wrote:

He's willing to do what it takes to make the team better. That's the important thing.

Yes, for the short term.....

The only people who want it long term is the two Jabroni's who want to keep reliving the 80's.

Taylor Hall will not make the Olympic squad because MacTavish can't find a way to address the black hole at center and that's a bloody shame.

As for the so called 3rd line, I will be waiting patiently for the article explaining how bad of an idea it was to put Hemsky - Gordon - Smyth on a line together.

This team makes me hotter than a mosquito in a room full of mannequins!

Avatar
#14 Serious Gord
September 11 2013, 07:30AM
Trash it!
8
trashes
+1
3
props
cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

oddly enough, most betting sites seem to have the Oilers around 20/1 right now to win the cup.

tied with the mighty Wild, at around 20/1.

so, by DSF logic, since the Wild joined the elite of the NHL last year, THAT MEANS THE OILERS ARE NOW IN THE ELITE OF THE NHL OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD!

All those odds tell you is that there are more oilers fans than wild fans. Season -long bets like that are more often fan statements than not. That's why the Chicago cubs always get better odds to win the World Series than they should.

Avatar
#15 westcoastoil
September 10 2013, 06:05PM
Trash it!
7
trashes
+1
30
props

I'm confused - why would you move (arguably) the best LW in the league to C, and then move your 2C (who shoots R) to 1LW when he's never played there.

Hall - Nuge - Eberle Perron - Gagner - Yak

Although let's be honest it would be fun to see what a line of the three #1s would do, leaving Gagner with Perron and Ebs. With Hemmer in the wings

This whole options thing is kinda weird and creepy

Avatar
#16 Craig1981
September 10 2013, 06:09PM
Trash it!
7
trashes
+1
2
props

I love those line combinations, been thinking of those for a bit. I think having him able to play C when RNH or Gagner are scratched would be huge asset. I think having Smyth there is ok, but perhaps limiting him to 60 games or so giving Omark a chance to suit up would be good. Jones might be a nice fit as well with Gorden and Hemsky.

Avatar
#17 Geitus Maximus
September 10 2013, 08:25PM
Trash it!
7
trashes
+1
1
props

I really hope Taylor at center works out as that leads to amazing line combos. I think we saw Yak really starting to take off the last 15 games of last year. Nuge, Yak and Perron, wow, that is probably the first line or at least 1B. But how strong will the 3 rd line be? Much stronger as Lowetide postulated. This needs serious consideration and Im sure it will. Eakins isn't married to the staus quo lines of years past. How about Omark, Gordon, Hemsky? Now we would have a 3 rd line that does more than kill time and get clobbered.

Avatar
#18 Quicksilver ballet
September 10 2013, 10:18PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
+1
6
props

Good to see a few kids trying to rub some dog ship in the faces of the Bad News Bears this evening. Things didn't end the way we hoped but it was different seeing the Oilers kids ruffling some feathers.

Was a decent opportunity to land a few head shots without any day after phone calls. The Oilers will have to hold Nurse back, rather than wish he was a little meaner. There's certainly some fire in that kid.

A missed opportunity perhaps, was hoping for more salt in wound photo ops, rattle a few cages.

Avatar
#19 justDOit
September 10 2013, 10:24PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
+1
4
props

It's never a bad idea to have your best player play the most important forward position. And if it leads to winning, I'm a big doubter in Hall having anything bad to say about playing C.

Avatar
#20 Tayranchula
September 10 2013, 10:29PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
+1
2
props

All I gotta say is you cant split up Nuge and Eberle.

Avatar
#21 David S
September 10 2013, 10:48PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
+1
9
props
cabaj wrote:

Assuming Hall dominates at center, would it make sense to push Gagner to 3C once Nuge is back? It gets a little bit messy, but sure solidifies the middle and would bode well for a team that Eakin's has focused on puck possesion.

Perron - Hall - Yakupov
Omark - Nuge - Eberle
Smyth - Gagner - Hemsky
Joensuu - Gordon - Jones

Yakupov - Hall - Eberle
Perron - Nuge - Hemsky
Smyth - Gagner - Omark
Joensuu - Gordon - Jones

Yes... that would be $7.5MM for 3/4C but hey... it might work.

OK look. Smyth anywhere but the fourth line with limited minutes is just asking for disaster. He can't skate with any of the fast kids (Gagner is pretty damn fast) and he doesn't work with the skill kids. Aaaand his shot is laughable (AKA The Smytty Clapper™). For the love of god just slap Smytty on the 4th line and let him play out the year with whatever boneheads are left over.

If you're suggesting Gagner on the third line, then your suggesting the mythical "3 scoring lines" strategy. If that's the case, then you'll need a scorer to round out the trio. Smyth on the third will sewer any combination you can put together otherwise. I guess I'd go with Jones but as smart as he off the ice, he's a complete moron on-ice and really doesn't click with play makers.

Avatar
#22 Rama Lama
September 10 2013, 06:30PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
+1
18
props

Nothing ventured nothing gained!

Avatar
#23 Bigfan
September 10 2013, 09:56PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
+1
2
props

Bill Wyman: Je suis un rock star!

Avatar
#24 Rocket
September 10 2013, 10:17PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
+1
9
props

Please don't move Hall to centre. That's almost like moving Ovechkin to left wing. How did that work out? I like that Hall wants to help the team out but I hope he is privately pissed that MacT didn't address the lack of centre depth before this.

"The Departed" featuring Hall & MacT:

MacT: "Who are you?" Hall: "I'm the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy."

Avatar
#25 cabaj
September 10 2013, 10:20PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
+1
9
props

@Lowetide - Is there a logical reason for describing line cominations in the C-L-R format? Why 'C' not in middle? Just curious.

Avatar
#26 Quicksilver ballet
September 10 2013, 10:36PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
+1
18
props

Eberle has offered and is a little more anxious to give center a go. That seems like a better fit, since Hall appears indifferent to this opportunity.

Leave the games best left winger where he belongs.

Avatar
#27 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
September 11 2013, 08:06AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
+1
4
props
Rocket wrote:

Please don't move Hall to centre. That's almost like moving Ovechkin to left wing. How did that work out? I like that Hall wants to help the team out but I hope he is privately pissed that MacT didn't address the lack of centre depth before this.

"The Departed" featuring Hall & MacT:

MacT: "Who are you?" Hall: "I'm the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy."

Is this a trick question? He made first all-star.

Twice.

Avatar
#28 Oiler Al
September 10 2013, 06:40PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
20
props

Hall, is very strong in his own end of the rink, on top of being a skater, shooter etc.makes him a likely candidate for center ice, why not. The only big question is how good can he be in the face off circle. He.s got the rest to be the best.

Some of the biggest stars in this game play-ed that postion.

Avatar
#29 David S
September 10 2013, 06:46PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
41
props

Funny. The only guy who disagrees Taylor Hall at center long term is a good idea is Taylor Hall.

I can't remember the number of times He's said "Yeah I'll do it if I have to but I really prefer the wing."

Avatar
#33 David S
September 10 2013, 11:00PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
7
props
David S wrote:

OK look. Smyth anywhere but the fourth line with limited minutes is just asking for disaster. He can't skate with any of the fast kids (Gagner is pretty damn fast) and he doesn't work with the skill kids. Aaaand his shot is laughable (AKA The Smytty Clapper™). For the love of god just slap Smytty on the 4th line and let him play out the year with whatever boneheads are left over.

If you're suggesting Gagner on the third line, then your suggesting the mythical "3 scoring lines" strategy. If that's the case, then you'll need a scorer to round out the trio. Smyth on the third will sewer any combination you can put together otherwise. I guess I'd go with Jones but as smart as he off the ice, he's a complete moron on-ice and really doesn't click with play makers.

Last thing. If you're thinking of Smyth as the muscle to break things loose for Gagner/Omark...uhhh...yeah, about that.

Avatar
#34 j
September 11 2013, 08:20AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
9
props

The biggest difference with moving Hall to center versus doing the same for Messier - Messier was moved there because his game was perfect for the role. He had all the skills to become the best centerman on the team (he was better than Gretz in terms of all around game IMO). For Hall, the move is because we have a hole in the lineup. I have no doubt that Hall has the ability to make the transition and he may even become an all star at that position. But his heart is on the wing and we actually need him on the wing. The move is simply an organizational one - not a strategic one. And that sucks.

Avatar
#35 Geoff
September 10 2013, 07:24PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
31
props

I think you shouldn't separate Yakupov and Hall. They were doing awesome last year together if I remember correctly!

Avatar
#36 justDOit
September 10 2013, 10:33PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
1
props

I'm hoping to see the YEG line soon.

Avatar
#37 justDOit
September 10 2013, 10:34PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
4
props

If for no other reason than the first branch on this:

http://i.imgur.com/zp2z6TL.jpg

Avatar
#38 ColourMeImpressed
September 10 2013, 11:50PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
9
props

I don't like it because we already have a decent second-line centre who can take over first line duties in Gagner. Hall is the only legitimate first line left wing on the team and in fact arguably the best in the league.

For all the talk of a lack of first line centres in the NHL, you'll hve a harder time replacing Hall than you would Nuge.

Avatar
#39 Oilerz4life
September 11 2013, 01:18AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
5
props

@cabaj

Those lines are a mess bro. Let me clarify for you guys since this article has everyone confused. The media seems to think because Messier moved to centre that the Oilers are doing that now with Hall permanently. Get that spinmaster hype out. Get thee behind me Satan. The Oilers web-site line combinations read as follows: L,C,R Hall,Nuge,Ebs Perron,Gagner,Yakupov Jones,Gordon ,Hemsky Smyth, Lander, Joensuu

That is the plan after pre-season. How exactly did this thread switch Jones w/ Smyth anyway? All this crazy line speculation. The media and this article has the Oiler's regular season plan all confused.

Avatar
#40 Fresh Mess
September 11 2013, 07:45AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
2
props

I agree LT. I've been saying the same thing.

Avatar
#41 Oilbomb83
September 11 2013, 08:57AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
2
props

Did nobody notice the lack of Gagner in this scenario? Would he not move Gordon to 4th line center duty. Or would we move Gagner to a wing on the second or third line and possibly move a guy like Perron to third line winger.

Regardless, while Hall has the talent to potentially be a decent NHL center, I don't think that it will be a good long term solution. He will need to be way more responsible defensively to excel in that role and that could potentially take away from his offence.

Avatar
#42 hatrock
September 11 2013, 10:47AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
6
props

And you're the only guy who posts lines C-L-R instead of what it actually looks like: L-C-R. Stop it!

Avatar
#43 Lochenzo
September 10 2013, 06:43PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
11
props

Worth pursuing for sure and I agree that it's worth a look. I'm antsy like some others out there tho. Taylor is on the cusp of becoming a dominant player in the league as a winger. Now let's try him at centre? It's like the kid is running down the home stretch and we threw him an extra hurdle to jump, hoping the he doesn't trip.

Avatar
#44 Wäx Män Riley
September 10 2013, 07:31PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
27
props
Geoff wrote:

I think you shouldn't separate Yakupov and Hall. They were doing awesome last year together if I remember correctly!

I agree. Having Yak on the right and Hall on the left seemed like a lot for other teams' top defenders to handle.

Avatar
#45 Ivan Drago
September 10 2013, 07:39PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
27
props

He's saying the right things because he's under the impression it's short term. He has repeatedly said LW is his preference. This "let's move a LW to C and a C to the wing (gagner) is not making sense to me. MacT needs to sign or trade for a C, that's his job. The sooner the better. Though I realize he can't do everything at once. To me Gagner is fine until then.

Avatar
#46 Taylor Gang
September 10 2013, 08:23PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
12
props
Ivan Drago wrote:

He's saying the right things because he's under the impression it's short term. He has repeatedly said LW is his preference. This "let's move a LW to C and a C to the wing (gagner) is not making sense to me. MacT needs to sign or trade for a C, that's his job. The sooner the better. Though I realize he can't do everything at once. To me Gagner is fine until then.

This. Isn't moving Gagner to the wing with Hall at centre just the same thing anyways? The centre depth is still awful. It's not fair to lump that responsibility on the players, that's MacT's job to find someone capable of playing centre.

Avatar
#47 ralph_u
September 10 2013, 09:36PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
8
props

Ok but Taylor from never playing center in the NHL to the 1st line center? Really. I hope it happens for the month and then everyone is happy when he goes back to being the best LW in the league!!

Avatar
#48 Bigfan
September 10 2013, 10:09PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
2
props

Bill played all the instruments for that song - and it was a hit. It was crap, but it was a hit. Things were much better when he went back to just bass. So the analogy with Hall at centre is actually pretty strong! Well done.

Avatar
#49 justDOit
September 10 2013, 10:27PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
3
props
cabaj wrote:

@Lowetide - Is there a logical reason for describing line cominations in the C-L-R format? Why 'C' not in middle? Just curious.

Oh boy, are you gonna getta banned real bad! Oh, wait...

My personal opinion why LT does this, is that he's just too nice, otherwise. He needs this to piss off people like you and I, every now and then.

Avatar
#50 justDOit
September 10 2013, 10:44PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
5
props
Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Eberle has offered and is a little more anxious to give center a go. That seems like a better fit, since Hall appears indifferent to this opportunity.

Leave the games best left winger where he belongs.

Ahh, the problems these days! Not so long ago, it was 'who is going to play center, and now it's, 'which top NHL winger gets to try out the center position.'

When I say Eberle play live in a prospect game in Leduc, I thought he could be playing center. He would leverage out much bigger defenders to win puck battles, and despite looking like a pee-wee when he skated back to the bench, he dominated that game. It wasn't even close.

Comments are closed for this article.