TAYLOR HALL: RIGHT WHERE HE BELONGS

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 23: Taylor Hall  of the Edmonton Oilers awaits a face off during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on November 23, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Oilers 5-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

With what we’ve already seen from Taylor Hall just 26 games into his NHL career, can you imagine him not being a member of the Edmonton Oilers this season? Can you imagine him spending another season with the Windsor Spitfires? I can’t. Neither can Ryan Whitney.

"I’d like to talk to the people who were thinking that. That’s a good one," laughed Whitney after Hall scored 23 seconds into overtime to beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 Saturday.

"I told him after he’s becoming a pretty effective player, a star almost, in the making. For all those people who were on him in the beginning, it just takes a while. In Game 82 he’s going to be even better than he is right now."

What Hall, just weeks past his 19th birthday, is "right now" is coach Tom Renney’s most explosive forward. A game-breaker. A difference-maker. A player who puts fans on the edge of their seats, then yanks them to their feet by doing something special.

"He’s a special kind of player," added Ryan Jones, who scored the 1-0 goal against the Blues on a goalmouth feed from Magnus Paajarvi. "He does things that I don’t even dream of."

Truth is, Hall’s doing a lot of things even the most optimistic fan of the Oilers wouldn’t have predicted this early in his career. Saturday marked Hall’s first overtime winner — he took as feed from Whitney after Andy McDonald got wiped out in the neutral zone, raced in alone on Jaroslav Halak and sifted a snapshot past him. He has two game-winners.

The kid is getting better shift-by-shift, period-by-period and game-by-game. Talk about a sight for the sore eyes of long-suffering Oilers fans. It’s really something to see.

SOMETHING SPECIAL

"I saw him (McDonald) fall and I said, ‘I better get on my horse,’ "said Hall, who has nine goals. "Once the puck was on my stick, I realized there wasn’t anybody close to me."

Said Renney: "There’s all kinds of people on this team you’d love to see have a breakaway in overtime. I have to tell you, he leads the parade, quite honestly."

After a sometimes tentative start to the season, Hall is rolling now with five goals and six points in his last six games against NHL competition. Does he look the least bit overmatched to you? Does he look out of place? Would it be better for Hall and the Oilers for him to be ripping it up with Windsor now? No, no and no.

Contractually speaking, I don’t know what’s going to happen with Hall six years from now and neither does anybody else. Fans, with what they’ve seen, are more concerned about the next six shifts, the next six periods, the next six games.

It’s becoming obvious that soon, very soon, this is going to be Taylor Hall’s team to lead. On nights like Saturday, with a crush of reporters leaning in to talk to him, it feels like it already is. Fans are rejoicing that Hall is here now. As they should.

THIS AND THAT…

— Everybody remembers how the Oilers went in the tank after that five-game winning streak they put together last December as they went on to lose 20 of their next 21 games. One of the worst stretches of hockey I’ve seen by this team since the mid-1990s.

So, what’s your over-and-under for wins in the next 20 games, counting Saturday as the first one? The schedule, which includes 11 more home games in that stretch, looks relatively favourable. I’m saying 10 wins.

— How many people picked Jones to be among the Oilers top-nine forwards in scoring for the Lucky 13 Pool? Jones goal against the Blues was his six of the season. Might he get 20?

— Whitney laughed out loud last night when I told him my over-and-under for him on assists before he scores his first goal is 22. Does he pick up a helper against Anaheim Tuesday and then score a goal?

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Lets keep in mind that Eberle was kept in jr for not one, but two extra years.

    Not only that, but he’s been getting a lot of praise for his play away from the puck. He’s not Hall as a prospect, obviously, but he clearly learned something in his extra two years in junior.

  • Mitch

    Personally, I think this problem is a non-problem as shown by a quick glance at EDM’s committed salary beyond summer 2013. Only Horcoff and Gilbert are signed beyond that point, there are no cap issues that far forward unless the Oilers create them from this point onward. A competent management group would leave themselves enough flexibility to deal with the awesome scenario that would be Eberle/Paajarvi/Hall being worth a bunch of money in the summer of 2013.

    Sure but the goal is to have a team that’s really good. You aren’t going to do that without a team that costs money outside of Hall/Eberle/MPS/Horcoff/Gilbert. There are going to be other people who need to get paid.

    If they aren’t a cap team in the last year of the ELC pacts, they’re missing a pretty big chance, IMO.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      For sure, but it’s not like those things are mutually exclusive. They would just need to arrange their affairs so that they have enough money coming off the books in the summer of 2013.

      The trio of rookies currently carry a cap hit of ~6.4 mil. What do we imagine they’ll cost in a wildly optimistic scenario, 18 mil combined? To leave themselves cap room that means they’d have to have ~12 mil in other contracts expiring by the summer of 2013. That shouldn’t be hard to do, even if they are spending right to the cap in 12/13.

      they wouldn’t necessarily even have to have all the contracts expiring, just tradeable. IE. Maybe this summer the Oilers sign a UFA D to a 3 year deal at a 5 mil cap hit per season, but structure the dollars as 7/5/3 to make the player more tradeable come summer 2013.

  • Mitch

    I don’t mean “best” argument in the sense that it’s better than all the arguments pro and con (although I do think that), I mean “best” in the sense that it’s better than the other arguments for sending him down.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      oh, i know what you meant…

      alot can change in 3, 5, 7 years. Yes, your point is valid, and yes it could very well turn out to be correct.

      however, it could also be wrong. kind of the problem with trying to predict 3, 5, 7 years down the road.

      the kid, by most accounts, is ready to be an NHLer now. How many #1 picks over the last 20 years, that were forwards, were sent back to junior? Bucking the trend and sending him back to save a few bucks and “possibly” help out long term?

      agree to disagree, mark it down in your little notepad to look back in July of 2018 and blow us away with the self pat on the back if you are right…

  • Jamie B.

    Robin, you mentioned a while ago you were writing a feature type story on Hall (and Eberle?) for NHL.com, has that been published yet? I look forward to reading it, thanks.

  • Mitch

    I do not believe keeping Hall and Eberle will ever be the problem. The problem will be assembling a competitive roster to play with them. The absolute out will be if the Cap keeps going up. If that happens the Oilers will be fine. Course if the Cap goes down, the problem will be potentially much worse.

    My suspicion is that we will be able to keep a core of 6-7 players at decent salaries but then we will be filling out our roster with the Kent Huskins of the NHL

    Someone on Lowetide’s site said Steen would be a good 3C. We would never be able to afford a $2.0m 3rd line center little alone a $3.35 m

  • Mitch

    Robin I remember the first time I got to meet Taylor Hall down in Penticton, he was nice enough to take a picture with me. I told Taylor he was the best player in Edmonton right now, I was serious, he humbley laughed. It’s the best dam thing in Edmonton right now watching this young kid, all the best to Taylor, he deserves success and the fans of Edmonton love superstars.

  • Bucknuck

    In four years, Horcoff, Hemsky, Penner, Gilbert and Khabibulin will all be off the books. That’s over 20 mil in cap space. I think that they will be able to pay Hall, Eberle, Dubnyk, Whitney and Gagner.

    There will be other rookies who come to the for in the next two-three years to fill in those underpaid roster spots. This team is set up fine for a good five years as long as Tambellini doesn’t do any stupid things.

  • Hemmertime

    I can understand Ty’s point of clustering and we’re yet to see whether he was wrong or right about that but I know for a damn fact that I was wrong about 4 being the least ready of the kids because he looks to be getting better every game and he’s not being sheltered either.

    So, I figured I was wrong but I really knew I was wrong after Ryan Whitney said it;)

    Note: RB is to Whitney as Ron Maclean is to Brad Richards:)

    Gregor: does not getting laid have anything to do with no one talking about special teams? Or is that no longer a valid talking point now that the club’s winning because they no longer take all that many penalties anymore?:)

  • KHR

    Well I’m not sure why this topic motivated me to actually post here for the first time, but what the heck it was probably bound to happen at some point so why not tonight.

    I will offer that I think that it will be very difficult in this league going forward to have numerous players that makes high end money stay on your team past the 7 year mark. To that end I think that one of the greatest tools a team can use is the RFA status of a player. I do not mean going out and signing RFAs, rather I mean let other teams sign some of your RFAs.

    Pick the one or two guys you want to keep and build around and pay them accordingly. Then make reasonable offers to the rest such that you do not handcuff your team on the cap issue.

    If they don’t like the money offered and get larger contracts somewhere else you can position your team very nicely with the draft picks you get in compensation. You can use or trade those picks to move up or get other assets as you need them.

    If they don’t get offered more money then you get to have them at the fair but reasonable offers you made them to begin with, or you can match any offer that you think is reasonable enough to match. In my mind the team wins either way. Managing your cap means that you can’t expect to have every great player that is in the league.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • m3sh

    A renogotiated CBA will eliminate the rest of those atrotious loophoops that have been used to sign players to riduclous 15 year contracts. The reality going forward is that the Oilers will be in an enviable position cap wise. Gone will be the days where the Oilers will be spending exessive amounts of salary on goailies and 5-6-7 defenceman. Do we really think that Tambo is going to be handing out 2.5 million dollar contracts to a #6 defenceman? Or 2 million to a 4th line plugger? The reality is that currently we stuck with some overvalued contracts. We should look forward to the day when we have to sign our big 3 to new contracts. Teams like New Jersey, the Islanders and Vancouver have shown us what we should not be doing in terms of longterm contracts. If Hall etal fulfill thier potential we will be laughing to the parade. Hall and Eberle’s performance this past week has certainly solidified my belief in the Oilers future.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      “Do we really think that Tambo is going to be handing out 2.5 million dollar contracts to a #6 defenceman? Or 2 million to a 4th line plugger”

      Well he did give 1.8 to Foster who would be no better then a 5 on most good teams, I believe he also offerd juicy contracts too Boogard and Chris Neil.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Foster is playing as number 4 D getting alot of sweet PP time. He is a bargin at 1.8. Jimmy V is “overpaid” number 5 but his contract is up after this year. Theo and Struddy are number 6 and 7 getting paid like it.

        He offered Boogarrd 3 years at 1.2 million per and he took the Rangers @ 1.6 for 4 years. You think he knows that all those ELCs are up after 3 years or something

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Yes, he’s playing as a number 4 on arguably the worst defense in the league. Faint praise indeed.

          FWIW it was reported Boogard was offerd 7 over 4… or 1.75 per.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Why because some NY writer says so? I got it form the horse’s mouth that the Oilers offered him 1.2 for 3 years but the Rangers were offering 1.6 for 3 then went up to 1.6 for 4 so he signed there. He wanted to play here so his family could come to more games

            But if you want to believe Brooks in NY go ahead

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            As is your right to do so. But why you would trust a mouthpiece for NY is beyond me.

            It is not those kinds of contracts the sub 2 million ones that are going to get you into cap trouble.

            Chicago, which the mathaletes love to use as an example, were in cap trouble because of the albatross contract Campbell has and the long term deals they gave Hossa and Bolland. Not that Hossa is money for the dollar but Bolland will under perform that contract during the regular season.

            You can miss fire on the 1 to 1.5 million dollar contracts you can’t miss fire on the ones over 5 Million ala Horcoff

  • magisterrex

    I think this whole discussion is clouded by peoples underlying desire for the outcome of this season. I believe the “send them down” crew are also the guys longing for another lotto pick, at any cost, and therefore secretly loathing wins.

    Not to say having kids up here helps us win per say, but at this moment in time, it’s helping. I’d be curious to know how many of you guys arguing they should have been kept down will be devastated if we do mediocre, and not extremely poor in the standings this season. I believe the real issue here, is that people want a lotto pick at all costs, and are letting that desire creep into this discussion.

    Because its ridiculous to say that sending Hall down would have helped his development, or his passion for being an Oiler long term as what he has done so far this season. If the kid wants to leave in 6 years its going to have a ton more about the process that occurred in those years than money or anything else.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      No you are wrong. The send them back to junior to save on contract group really don’t understand hockey at its most fundamental level. Oh sure they get the financial details and I bet they would be super great guys in the accounting department but those guys don’t run hockey teams.

      Anyone who is in the know(which is something that drives those kinds of guys nuts, “wink” @Tyler”)knows that sending Hall down would have been one of the most idiotic things for the Oilers to do.

      The funny thing with the way he is playing now it justifies keeping him here now more than ever. The bloggers and mathaletes are nashing there collective teeth in dismay that they are being proven wrong once again

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        The “funny thing” is, if you think Hall’s play now “proves” the bloggers wrong, you’re showing that you either don’t, and haven’t, truly understood their argument, or are creating and arguing against a strawman.

        • magisterrex

          The argument was based on purely a financial perspective. Not a hockey one. If you start to operate purely from a financial point of view in any sport you are not doing things the right way.

          That was what the argument boiled down too.

          It wasn’t what was best for Taylor Hall or what is best for the Oilers. It was what is the best thing financially the Oilers can do.

          If the Oilers listened to that kind of BS Hall would be back in Junior bored as hell. It is not the right thing for him from a hockey point of view.

          Seriously go back to your cube in the accounting floor and punch some numbers.

          • Speeds, the argument to keep Hall down really can be boiled down to what Joe noted about it because after that point it hold absolutely no water.

            It is a losing position because it isnt feasible in the real world. It’s an academic excercise because no one would really ever do it, and if they did the ramifications would kill the Oilers.

            All of a sudden being drafted by the Oilers is a punishment, players and agents have even more reasons to avoid the Oil, Taylor Hall begins his Oiler career waiting to leave, and rest of the club is left with a bad taste in their mouth knowing the club isnt icing the best team available.

            Sending Hall down at the beggining of the year was a poorly thought out plan. There’s nothing else to it.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            “It is a losing position because it isnt feasible in the real world.”

            I don’t know about that, where is the line drawn then? Is it ok to send down 2nd, 3rd, 4th overall picks? Just not #1?

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Yes it is

            And Archeologuy wrote it much better than I could write.

            The point is from a hockey view the Oilers did the correct thing.

            Yes I despise mathaletes and in this case there attempt to sabotage the Oilers number 1 pick was very poorly done. Its funny that the Oiler blogosphere would fall under the sway of a Lawyer from Toronto. Who cares what Bobby Orr says lets listen to some lawyer from TO about how to run the Oilers. Give me a break

          • It’s not about draft position. It doesnt matter about 1, 2, or 3. If the player earns the spot and is clearly not served developmentally playing in the CHL then he shouldnt be sent down.

            Spezza was #2 and was sent back because he wasnt good enough defensively to play Centre in the NHL. Years later he still has the same knocks against him, the criticism wasnt some lame excuse to have him playing at age 22 on his ELC.

            What was Hall lacking that suggested he wasnt ready for full-time duty on the wing in the NHL? Nothing.

            What did he have left to learn and prove in the OHL? Nothing.

            So why are we even having this discussion? Because it’s fun to argue. That’s it.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @Joe

    There are a few things here you don’t really seem to be grasping.

    1. Brooks is a mouthpiece in New York, and you’re a mouthpiece in Edmonton, neither one of you is anyone proven to know anything. He is an accredited sports writer, you’re a dude on a message board. If we can’t take his word we sure as hell can’t take yours, even if you are right. Can you see that?

    2. You talk about math with the vitriol of someone who couldn’t seem to pass it; calm down. The “mathletes'” argument was operational, not financial. They were trying to maximize the amount of time he was obligated to spend with the oilers. You could criticize the argument for putting the oilers’ long term roster needs over Hall’s development, but don’t act like they were trying to save Katz money.

    No matter who’s story is true, hearing that Tambo offered BoogyMan anything made me lose all faith in him; he’d be like a Macintyre we were obligated to play every night. Anyone who would pay him 1.6 mil deserves to pay him 1.6 mil.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Also, I think we need to forget about Taylor Hall specifically, the theory should more just be applied to all high end prospects (not to mention the conversation seems to emotionally charged with Hall as the centerpiece.). You also get more leverage as you move down the draft scale as the top 1-2 picks are already paid close to 4 million right off the bat, while moving outside the top 5 you quickly get close to million dollar players.

    For example a guy like Magnus could easly be a 4.5 – 5 million dollar player in his 23-24 year old season, and we could have had the opportunity to have that at 1.5 million cap hit.

    • positivebrontefan

      You’re probably right, looked at the standings and no matter how much Koolaid I drink we are still last in the west. And looking at the schedule most of those 20 games are against west teams.