HALL AT CENTRE: WHY NOT TAKE A LONG LOOK?

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.

  • “Let’s see . . .”

    All correct. What I had most in mind is that Messier did not miss a beat when he switched over. Wasn’t the big switchover in the playoffs? Let Hall master his NHL game before putting him full time at centre. Would not mind seeing some spot duty there this year. I see him there full time somewhere between the next 2 Septembers.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If a number of these kids show up with a V 12 motor instead of a V 8 the issue of the No. 1 center issue will surely wane. The jump from junior to the NHL is considerably taller than the hurdles Taylor has previously cleared. I’d rather see him get accustomed to the NHL game before putting this change of position on his plate. A little confidence could go a long way for an adjustment like that.

    Must be a new high for Robin punting members so far this year, are you at 4 already RB?

  • PerryK

    “It’s worth a look, no?”

    No!

    The kid is 18 years old. He is going to have a difficult time fitting in to a game that is moving way too fast and guys that are huge coming at him from every blind spot.

    Last thing in the world that he needs is to worry about positioning on defense and recognizing the vulnerable spots on the ice.

    If you want to try him at Centre, then you need to wait a couple of years until the game can slow down for him. Even then, I say you leave him in his natural position.

  • The Pestival

    I was at the game and I didn’t see Hall win a single faceoff, not even close. I didn’t see too many other Oilers win any faceoffs either though.

    Sweet jesus that Paajarvi is a lot bigger and faster than I thought!

    • Yeah, there was one play last night where Paajarvi got control of the puck in the Oiler zone at the 1/2 boards. He started to skate out with it and before the Shark D man could even start backing up out of the zone MPS was 2 strides past him into the neutral zone. Pure awesome.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I like how he is now referred to as “the Seguin”, I think I’ll use that one. I agree with this article, try him out for a stretch of games at C in the middle of the season after he settles in and give him a look. No harm. But let him get his feet warm first.
    I just hope “the Seguin” doesn’t outperform…

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    If you actually read and try to understand what I am saying instead of manufacuring a reponse you will get the point. I always talk about franchise d-men as well hence (Niedermayer,Stevens) with you Gomez ex: and with Getzlaf who actually led Anaheim in playoff scoring also had (Pronger and Niedermayer).

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Guess what, those teams had franchise wingers as well.

      I understand exactly what you are saying, you think a team HAS to have top end C/D/G to win

      You’ve made up a theory that can’t be proven and you are acting like it is a fact. Sorry, it isn’t.

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        Your giving me way to much credit, If I made that theory up I would be G.M. or head scout.Facts are not made up, thats why there called facts.

        For this team to ever win a cup I beleive Gilbert and Whitney or at least one need to be in your second pairing and of course you need an upgrade at centre if Hall can’t play there.