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.

  • Cervantes

    The scary thought for me is we’ve started this run of good hockey thanks to Jimmy Vandermeer getting top-pair minutes with Ryan Hockey-God Whitney, and Tom Coffey 2.0 getting paired up with Teddy Peckman. I don’t think I would have expected it to work, but I don’t think we can deny that Gilby and VDM have turned their game around, and Teddy has definitely taken it up a notch. Kudos to the coaching staff for pulling that one out.

    Also, once Hemmertime gets back in the lineup, we’ll be rocking 3 legit scoring lines in 14-10-4/27-13-67/91-89-87. That’s some pretty serious awesome there. A line with 2 Calder frontrunners, a 30 goal scorer on the second, and a PPG gamebreaker on the 3rd.

    Now, the only real remaining question is, why in the name of the great flaming raptor zombie baby jesus hasn’t Hemmer been put in IR and Linus or Ginger been called up yet??? We have a top9 opening, lets bloody well use it while we can!

  • John Chambers

    I’m bullish about the next 20 games.

    My call is for 11-8-1. This will put us in a strange position where we’ll be barely on the outside looking in at the halfway point. This team now has balance on its lines, steadi(er) defense, and remarkably, confidence in net.

    I think we start to see Paajarvi put some points on the board, and we start to show a sustained level of competitiveness that makes us hard to play against.

    It all changed in that game against Colorado. Eberle fed Hall and then the kids, the building, and the team came alive again.

    Happy Holidays.

    • Chris.

      How about 19-0-1? Too bad the new arena won’t be ready before we start winning a bunch of Cups.

      *wink*

      It just feels good to cheer for a team that’s winning again. I’m gonna laugh it up big while it lasts!

  • GSC

    I seem to remember a certain blogger who whined that the Oilers would be ‘wasting’ a year on Hall’s entry level contract and would have to pony up a new contract sooner rather than later.

    Well, congratulations. Your arguments make Ryan Whitney laugh.

      • GSC

        It’s so easy to come up with an argument like that when you’re detached from the process and have no say in what happens with Hall and the Oilers. No one there has to step into management’s shoes here and answer to an owner, to the players, and to the fans.

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

          That’s great, still doesn’t change the fact that if the team is going to be a cup contender sometime in the somewhat near future (especially if it’s going to be for more then a year or two) that they are going to have to micro-managne the cap situation.

          And that rookie contracts are one tool in doing that.

          • GSC

            And how do you envision the Oilers getting on their way to being a contender? Certainly not without Taylor Hall, I would presume.

            If you sit a player like Hall in favor of another year in junior, you’re just delaying the process by another year. You’ll still have the same problem when Hall makes the move up.

            No matter how you slice it, the Oilers will have to do a good job of managing the cap. That’s just the way it is in this day and age.

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

            “If you sit a player like Hall in favor of another year in junior, you’re just delaying the process by another year. You’ll still have the same problem when Hall makes the move up.”

            You don’t have the same problem, because you wouldn’t have 3 (potential) stars needing raises on the same year.

            If the Hawks would have staggerd one of Toews/Kane, they could have kept 2 or maybe even 3 out of Versteeg/Buff/Ladd/Nieme/Ladd/Barker/Madden/Eager
            instead of downgrading them with guys like Pisani/Stallberg/Boyton/Scott/Turco

            It isn’t the most important cap planning tool, but it is a legitimate opportunity that should be considerd and potentiall taken advantage of when planning your teams future.

          • mick swagger

            no they could have kept 2 or 3 of them if they didnt sign hossa to that insane contract (so glad he turns us down) look to new jersey for further prove that signing hugh free agent contracts can hand cuff you for years

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

            You know I think most would actually consider Hossa’s cap hit below his level of play… so I’m pretty sure that’s not what cost them.

            Again, it isn’t the only factor that caused the purge, but it is certainly one of the factors.

          • It also seems these “Look at the horrible atrocity that was the Blackhawks summer” people never, ever take a look at the standings. Yes they jettisoned a few key components from their cup winning team, but people are acting like they’re 30th in the league and are going to stay there for the next ten years.

            Last time I checked they were still in contention to win their division, are sitting in 4th in the West and have won 7 of their last 10 AND they won a god damn Stanley Cup last year.

            Yes, god help the Oilers if they have to suffer this kind of indignity.

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

            It’s about giving your team the best chance to win.

            Thier are *very* few variables a team has *complete* control over, when they start a rookie is one of the few.

          • m3sh

            It sounds like you’re advocating using said control simply because the control exists, not whether it’s necessarily logical or appropriate.

            How can you define what gives your team in 3-5 years the best chance to win right now when half/most/all your existing contracts will have expired by then, the performance of the players we assume we want to keep is still completely unknown, the cap itself is unknown, the CBA is to be re-created etc. ??

            There’s no way to actually win this argument on either side because it’s all projections and bullshit. This whole thing is complete conjecture.

            However, I will say we can’t know what’s going to happen in 3 years, so we don’t send a message to the dressing room that we care more about staggering our ELCs for optimal cap management instead of wanting our players to progress optimally. There’s simply too many variables. Apply Occam’s Razor… the simplest solution is to let the budding stars be budding stars at a level of competition that will promote improvement in their game.

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

            “How can you define what gives your team in 3-5 years the best chance to win right now when half/most/all your existing contracts will have expired by then, the performance of the players we assume we want to keep is still completely unknown, the cap itself is unknown, the CBA is to be re-created etc. ??”

            Very easily, you have a better chance of building a winner when your number one player has a 3.8 million cap hit (or less) rather then a 6+ million dollar cap hit.

          • BarryS

            I think your best player making 6 mill+ is not the problem, paying 6 mill + for a 4 – 5 place defenceman is the problem. Seems to me Hawk’s problems resulted from playing lessor players to much. They had to trade players because they had a large untradeable contract and some of the traded players got more money because of a missed deadline.

            It is highly unlikely in the future the Oilers will be paying big bucks to lessor players like they did in the past. It seems to me there is general downward pressure on all but the true star players. As it stands, of the young players, Hall, Eberly and perhaps Dubnyk will be in line for larger increases, Gagner, too, if he continues to improve. The days of players 6 to 14 and D 4 – 6 getting big bucks are over.

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

            Why does everyone want to cloud the issue?

            Yes Campbells contract was a big reason they lost depth. That doesn’t change the fact that Toews/Kane going from a 6.5 million in cap hit to 12.6 million in cap hit was *also* a reason they lost players.

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

            Are you saying they wouldn’t have a better chance of winning if those guys were making 7.6 million combined vs 17.4 million combined?

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

            Do you think they would prefer to have a couple of the guys they lost over a couple they have now?

            They are the perfect example as to why this is important (important enough to at least be considerd and not simply shrugged off as a “I guess we’ll find out”)

            They had all the makings of a dynasty, but now they appear to be on the upper end of average.

  • striatic

    “Injuries are part of the game, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

    just like it is possible do have a disproportionate number of injuries, like the oilers did last year, so too is it possible to to have a relatively injury free season.

    nothing is inevitable.

    not saying the oilers won’t be getting injured, possibly a lot, but you just can’t bank on injuries sinking a team.

    if the oilers want to trade present success for future success, i think they’ll need to be more proactive this year in converting vets into prospects or picks during the season.

  • striatic

    “it’s not insane to think he can have a +60 point season and win the Calder.”

    i think the +60 point season stretches credulity a bit. possible but extremely unlikely.

    but i don’t think it will take a 60 point season to win the calder. he’s only 5 points behind Skinner and 3 behind Eberle.

    he doesn’t need a 20 point bump to be in the hunt for the Calder. maybe 10.

  • GSC

    The other thing about Hall that is really becoming prevalent, is his play in his own end. Edmonton was quickly become the first team to give up 100 goals well before getting 100, and it’s not just Hall, but all 5 guys on the ice. They now seem to underdstand that without that big name, all star defensive pairing, they are playing defence by committee, and its starting to show. Khabby, Dubnyk and even Gerber when he plays, are looking fantastic because the team in front of them are able to control nuetral zone play and force turnovers. The goalies are by far reaping the benefit of this. As scary as it is to see Hall take a 90 mph slapper off his foot, it’s nice to see these kids underdstand what it takes to win and realize theyre offensive talents will get them on sportscenter, but not always in the win column

  • Chris.

    Taylor Hall has 15 points through 26 games putting him on pace for a 47 point rookie season…

    But drink some Kool-Aid with me an indulge me in a more optimistic approach to the numbers. Taylor Hall took 20 games to adjust to the speed of the NHL game. During that time he posted 9 points. Now that he has his offensive mojo going he is scoring at a PPG pace. If Hall stays healthy, and keeps improving, it’s not insane to think he can have a +60 point season and win the Calder. It’s something to root for anyway. It’s something within the realm of possibility.

  • Brownlee wrote:

    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.

    I agree with you on the first two no’s, and I think his performance indicates that no is probably the right answer for the first two questions. But you don’t talk about, or indicate why, the anwer is no for the third question.

    As to that third question, I don’t think it would be better for Hall if he were in Windsor this year, but the answer is more murky for the Oilers. There are arguments both ways.

    • Winnie Cooper

      Yes, there are arguments to be made both ways, as you say, but the benefits to Hall, the fans and the franchise in the long-term outweigh any potential negatives, in my mind.

      This city needs a reason to cheer now. That aside, I think it’s better from a development standpoint for Hall to start at square one with Eberle and Paajarvi here instead of from a distance in junior.

      Where’s the downside? The assumption that when Hall can leave he will leave? I don’t buy it. If the team is competitive and Hall is being paid, who can say with certainty because he can go he will? The “send him back” argument hinges on that assumption.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        I think it’s certainly possible that someone can weigh all the factors and come to the conclusion that EDM was right to keep Hall.

        It may be that the city “needs” a reason to cheer now, but doesn’t mean the Oilers should or shouldn’t have kept Hall. They kept him for whatever reason, or combination of reasons they kept him. Maybe what the city/fans “need” was part of the equation.

        His development probably wasn’t hurt by moving to the NHL this season, it could well have helped.

        The downside is that one of his 3 “cheap” years is gone, as is one year of his 7 RFA years. The argument doesn’t rely on him definitely bolting after 7 years- the argument acknowledges that his first 7 years are likely to be cheaper than the years following due to his UFA status at that time (assuming the CBA then looks like it does now), assuming he’s willing to re-sign afterwards or sign an extension into his UFA years.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        We wont know the true negatives until (and this is a big if) the team becomes a cup contender and quality players have to be sacrificed a year early to keep the top 5-6 guys here.

        This debate really wont come to fruition until at least 2.75 more seasons, maybe longer.

  • GSC

    imagine “…A player who puts fans on the edge of their seats, then yanks them to their feet by doing something special…”

    he’s bloody breathtaking…it’s like when Pronger was here, when 44 was on the ice nothing bad was going to happen…when 4’s on the ice now, most times something good’s going to happen…

    i’m liking 10 wins in the next 20 . . . our goalie gets what,a dozen starts? if he stays healthy maybe wins 6. Dubnyk gets the rest, gets maybe 4 wins so they both bat .500 unless our D keeps playing sorta lites out compared to before …could be 12 wins in twenty…if you include TaylorHall overtime wins.

    … is it still possible to play exciting FIFTH last place, win the lottery to get Adam Larsson hockey?

  • Oilers go 7-10-3 at best over the next 20.

    “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.”

    What’s O.V & Kovalchuk’s Stanley Cup count?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The “Hall in junior” argument is not that he cannot play here. At least I do not think that was the argument.

    It was that Eberele, Hall and MPS’s entry level contracts all come up at the exact same time in 2013/14 along with Whitney (who might have 190 assists between goals at that point). And that is an awful lot of money to come up with at one time, one season after having to juggle Hemsky, Penner, Gagner and Dubnyk salaries.

    If salary cap management is one of the aspects of a successful team in a cap regime, not sure you want that many contracts expiring at the same time.

    They will also have to juggle Peckham who is going to want a very nice raise for 1 or 2 seasons which may come due …..13/14

  • bigguy13

    Great game by all rookies, Hall will no doubt be a force in the NHL, however are we improving to fast???? I’m not worried by a little success. Lmao! I’m glad they are having some success. I predicted a 20th place finish. We’re kidding ourselves if we think this team will finish in the bottom 5 without the same amount of injuries as last season. I said form the start that this team is better than last seasons team with or without injuries. Our rookies are far greater than all the players that got bought out or traded away. The Oilers will be fine. They’ve been drafting great since Tambi took control. Look at our drafted prospects in Juniors and the farm right now.. they are looking great. The Oilers have a Gagner that is finally becoming the player we all thought he’d become. We have Hall who will continue to get better and become a top player in this league. We have Eberle whom is by far the most intelligent player we’ve seen since Weight. We have Peckham that is developing into a solid physical/mean stay at home d’man. The Oilers already have a great core of young talent. They just need time to become a constant threat. The Oilers will not be hurt by a little success and drafting 10th – 15th this summer. When you mix the gradual success with the gradual development of the young players, it equates to a winning team with a winning attitude with a bright future. Trying to lose for the purpose of drafting high a few seasons in a row can spell disaster as well. Look at the Islanders for instance. The Oilers already drafted a few high picks the last 3 seasons courtesy of losing seasons. Gagner, Paajarvi and Hall. They ended up with the 22nd overall draft pick in Eberle and that didn’t hurt them. In fact, it was fate. If they drafted any higher, they’d have lost out in that draft. You cannot expect to lose bad for too many seasons in a short time and think success will come from it. I think it would be worse if they continue to keep that pace up. The losing mentality will cramp this team and perhaps stagnate the development of the young kids.. which in turn may force some to not want to play here.

  • Jagrbaum

    Good write up, nice to see that Hall is starting to flashes of what made management take him 1st overall.

    That being said, I am still going to reserve my judgment of Hall until his 3rd season, but man am I glad he makes oilers hockey fun to watch again.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    He’s cookin now! Wonder if Horcoffs knee is okay after he got submarined by MacDonald. If the Oilers could liquidate some older expensive assets, the rebuild would be at an end with Couturier and Larsson in the fold. I’d be bugging the Islanders now and perhaps the Bruins before the deadline. A couple players going on the LTIR or a trade may help us get back on track. Still think we need one more lottery pick to go with our own.

    • Wow… so much wrong with that paragraph.

      Andy McDonald submarined Horcoff? Sure… OR he took Horcoff’s knee to the head (not in any way blaming Horcoff). The guy has battled multiple concussions and looked like another could be on the way after that, and he “submarined” him? Nope. Horcoff looked just fine skating up the ice and into the celebration. Andy McDonald… not so much – he was still laying on the ice after the celebration.

      The NYI, who are paying approx $12M less than the cap floor because of loopholes in the CBA, are not even going to think about selling their lottery pick for “some older expensive assets”. Neither are the Bruins, who happen to be looking to shed salary, not take more on.

      We saw how hard it is to acquire a lottery pick last June… it didn’t happen then, so why would it now? Let me ask you this: as Oilers GM, would you be willing to give up a potential lottery pick to acquire sobebody else’s “older expensive assets”? No? So why would somebody else?

      Are you really cheering for injuries to happen to the Oil just so they can pick 1st again? Isn’t that kind of cheap? Bad karma? And what if said injuries happen to, oh I don’t know, say Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner & Ryan Whitney… do you REALLY want to see that?

      OIL FAN: There comes a time where finishing 9th-12th becomes a good thing. I mean sure, another franchise player can’t hurt (at least until new contracts are required), but at some point seeing this team improve and finishing 9-12 is good. Progression is good. Learning to win is good. You don’t just go from being terrible, to picking 1st two years in a row, to winning the Cup. It’s time to quit having a loser’s mentality. Leave that to us Flames fans. Oh… and enjoy!

      • Quicksilver ballet

        How MacDonald got in that situation is of no concern to us, wasn’t implying it was intentional, it did look like he could do some damage with 100% of his weight driving into Horcoff.

        The Islanders have been rebuiling for 25 years now, much like the Leafs have. I wouldn’t say the likes of Hemsky,Penner,Gagner,Cogliano,Brule, Deslaurier etc would be considered old by league standards.

        Injuries are part of the game, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. This Karma dude you referred to, it must be just a bunch of rubbish/bullship, has he ever written a book, or can he be referenced somewhere, is it before Psalms or after in the Bible? Is this Karma guy the cheap available spirituality for the uninformed or less edumacated sir?

        • wasn’t implying it was intentional

          I believe “submarined” insinuates intentional.

          I wouldn’t say the likes of Hemsky,Penner,Gagner,Cogliano,Brule, Deslaurier etc would be considered old by league standards.

          If the Oilers could liquidate some older expensive assets, the rebuild would be at an end with Couturier and Larsson in the fold.

          has he ever written a book, or can he be referenced somewhere, is it before Psalms or after in the Bible? Is this Karma guy the cheap available spirituality for the uninformed or less edumacated sir?

          Uh… sure. Do we really wanna go there? I don’t think anyone wants to go there.

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

          “The Islanders have been rebuiling for 25 years now, much like the Leafs have. I wouldn’t say the likes of Hemsky,Penner,Gagner,Cogliano,Brule, Deslaurier etc would be considered old by league standards.”

          They would want those guys for a lotto pick about as much as we’d want guys like Pominville, Hartnel, Luke Schenn, Benoit Pouliot, Dustin Boyd and Mike Smith for ours.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        They usually don’t get traded by lottery teams is a givin, but that Tor/Bos pick is a unique opportunity. If we have something the Bruins feel will get them over the hump then there’s definately an opportunity there. They do already have Seguin out of the Kessel deal, they may be satisfied with that going forward for a shot to go deep in the playoffs again. I don’t mind overpaying to get that pick, the Oilers would be setting the table for a few years down the road. I’d hate to see the Oilers and the Bruins go 2 for 4 in the Stanley Cup finals against each other.