If the Edmonton Oilers are thinking of taking a look at Taylor Hall as a centre, and my take is they absolutely should, there’s no harm in having him see a stretch at pivot as soon as possible.
That’s exactly what happened Wednesday night, of course, against the San Jose Sharks rookies in Penticton — the Oilers used Hall in the middle between Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi.
Is Hall, 18, a long-term fit there after playing mostly left wing with the Windsor Spitfires on the way to two straight Memorial Cups and back-to-back MVP awards? That, we don’t know. And neither will head coach Tom Renney until he gets a prolonged look at him there, which will take more than the glance he got against the Sharks.
It’s something I’d like to see when the Oilers take the ice for training camp on Saturday after medicals and fitness testing Friday, because doing it now and finding out makes sense, at least the way I see it.
Why have Hall break into the NHL — he isn’t going back to Windsor — and then tinker around with the idea later this season or maybe next year when he’s just settled in? Give him the look now through camp and pre-season, and if he doesn’t show the aptitude to win a job in the middle, then move him back to left wing.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
DOES HE FIT?
A lot of the arguments why the Oilers should’ve taken a long look at Tyler Seguin of Plymouth with the No. 1 pick — before Hall separated himself from the Seguin on the way to the Memorial Cup — was that Edmonton was in need of a big, offensive centre.
If you look at the depth chart going into camp, Renney still needs that guy. Why not see if Hall can be him? It’s not like the experiment, even if it fails, is going to cost Hall a roster spot. He’ll be here when the puck drops against the Calgary Flames Oct. 7. What’s the downside?
Hall didn’t look completely comfortable early against the Sharks — although he looked at home stepping to the stop of the circle and blowing a slapshot into the San Jose net to make it 4-3 — but that’s to be expected.
He’s going to have to feel his way into the league no matter where he starts the season. That’s just the way it works. He doesn’t have the head-start Paajarvi or a Linus Omark has when it comes to the pro game.
While I don’t expect to see Paajarvi, Hall and Eberle as a line when the regular season starts, I wouldn’t mind seeing No. 4 tucked in behind Sam Gagner and in front of Shawn Horcoff when pre-season begins.
It’s worth a look, no?
— Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.