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!

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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 TSN 1260.
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#51 Rocket
September 10 2013, 10:47PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

Totally. I do have some concerns about it though. Like the great chemistry of Ebs & baby Nuge as well as Jordan's faceoff ability but it would still be very interesting to see.

But seriously. MacT really couldn't find ONE NHL centre? Really? Even Smithson is an upgrade over absolutely nothing. Well, not much of an upgrade but still!

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#52 Young Oil
September 10 2013, 10:48PM
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Eberle does make a lot more sense at center for a short term stint in my opinion...Hall might very well be better, but the lines would have a lot more balance if a right winger moved to the middle. Hemsky is a better bet for success as a #2RW than Omark or Smyth would be as a #2LW.

Unless the want is to attempt to showcase Omark to allow him to find a place in the NHL, and trade him for an asset when Nuge gets healthy, if he shows well. But that's not something a team who wants to win does, unless Omark plays his way into that position.

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#53 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
September 11 2013, 07:21AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Naw, don't need to look it up. I knew it would get a response from you.

Just messing with ya DSF.

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!

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#54 madjam
September 11 2013, 09:28AM
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Oiler rookies lose a close one to Uof A . Good news , is Nurse finally showed very well in game - probably best player on ice next to Bears Ringrose . Klefbom also showed better this game . Finally some positives coming from rookies . Musil, a bit of a surprise in some eyes , did not play this game , but he seems the most physically capable/adapt of all the rookie defenceman . Nurse showed well at both ends of ice , and still waiting to see his mean streak as yet .

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#55 cabaj
September 11 2013, 12:04PM
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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.

You may be proven right, but as of now you are overly sour on Smyth given his poor performance at CENTER in a condensed schedule. Krueger demanded excessive defensive skating & change of direction from his centers.

Throw him in his natural position, and a role that requies less defensive coverage. Park him in front of the net with gagner/hemsky cycling.

Why is it a myth?

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#56 2004Z06
September 12 2013, 09:18AM
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ColourMeImpressed wrote:

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.

And who is our decent 2C? Gagner? The guy who after 5 years in the position is still in the 40% range in face-offs, has one of the worst +/- on the team and is horrible on the back check?

Gagner is not natural centerman contrary to what all the Gagner lovers think. He is better off on the wing.

Taylor hall has all of the 3 main assets of a natural center. He is a terrific passer as evidenced by last year, he has the speed and tenacity to back check/strip pucks and his face off percentage is 54.7% and he hasn't even practiced them much.

People need to get over "the best LW in the league crap". This isn't about what is best for Taylor Hall, this is about what is best for the Edmonton Oilers.

He may just turn out to become one of the best PLAYERS in the game.

With the lack of depth at center and this teams ability to get injured, it is never a bad thing to have a few guys cross trained. This is precisely how good teams continue to be good even after the injury bug hits.

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#57 Walter Sobchak
September 10 2013, 08:45PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

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

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

Was a beautiful thing to watch.

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#58 Walter Sobchak
September 10 2013, 11:01PM
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DSF wrote:

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

Naw, don't need to look it up. I knew it would get a response from you.

Just messing with ya DSF.

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#59 The Soup Fascist
September 11 2013, 09:09AM
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Oilbomb83 wrote:

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.

If you are talking about LT's scenario, Gagner is 1LW playing with Hall and Eberle.

I apologize if I misunderstood which scenario you are talking about.

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#60 hatrock
September 11 2013, 10:17AM
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The stats don't lie, separating Nuge and Ebs is dumb dumb dumb. Unless you don't believe in stats. They work very well together.

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#61 916oiler
September 11 2013, 11:12AM
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Haller

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#62 Spoils
September 11 2013, 12:50PM
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I like the sounds of Nuge Perron Yak as a line. Honestly don't know a ton about Perron, but Yak is the shooter and Nuge is a playmaker.

That leaves Ebs and Hallsy flying around with Gags

Oiler history says focus on locking in pairs - Gretz Kurri with Semenko/Krush/Tikk - Mess Anderson with Linseman/Simpson/Nilsson/

Hall-Ebs Nuge-Yak

There will probably be lots of shuffling around. Can't wait to see where the dust settles.

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#63 Toblerusse
September 11 2013, 03:35PM
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j wrote:

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.

You are making a statement that has elements of objectivity but is then supported with your subjective opinion. I would say you are correct that Messier was a good fit and that arguably was better all around than gretzky. Sure.

But to say that Hall's "heart" is on the left wing is just some figurative statement that can be argued to the contrary with the same subjective reasoning. I could say that you could put him anywhere on the ice and he would be equally as competitive and have the same amount of "heart". Stick Taylor Hall in net and he will still have the most heart on the team. What's that got to do with trying him at C?

You say the move is organizational. I would say that is a fair point. But not simply by virtue of that does this test of Hall on the wing "suck" as you put it.

Could be something that changes the dynamic nature of this team for the next decade. You never know and you can't know unless you try.

Personally i think he is one of the best wingers in the game and would be happy to see him stay there. That said, I would be even happier if he found his calling as a C and wound up dominating that role to the point where our strength up the middle went from an organizational weakness to the 'heart' and soul of our franchise [ RNHaLL ].

I say try it and keep fingers crossed.

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#64 Hammers
September 12 2013, 12:36AM
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Even if his Not a great center what does it hurt . Lets him take some extra faceoffs especially if Gags stays center with Hall & Yak . RNH , Ebs & Perron looks OK to me .Also agree for Gordon to start with Smyth & Hemmer .Not that bad of a top 9 with Omark chomping to get in there . Joensuu Lander Jones with Brown & Eager or Omark the 2 extras . I think they carry 7 "D" with at least 1 on IR .

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