The Edmonton Oilers have been gifted with three outstanding young talents since 2010 summer. Each of them has a unique skill set and something that ignites the fanbase: Yak City is pure joy; Taylor Hall is all business; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is cerebral and a wonder in all three segments of the ice. Which one will be better? Do we know already?


We don’t know, won’t for some time I’d expect. Injuries and opportunities, events and luck and dollars and and and will determine the best of the trio.

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What we can do is examine their rookie seasons for clues.

The first thing we have to establish is that these rookies are other worldy–we are NOT comparing these fellows to average. The #1 overall pick is as good as it gets.


  • Taylor Hall 10-11: 18:12TOI; 15:26EV; 2:43PP; 0:01PK
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 11-12: 17:36TOI 14:33EV; 3:00PP; 0:01PK
  • Nail Yakupov 12-13: 14:28TOI; 12:01EV; 2:26PP; 0:00PK

The Oilers didn’t use Yakupov as much as the other two, owing at least a little to having several top 6F options–especially on RW (Eberle and Hemsky) and powerplay options. Based on these numbers, Hall would seem to be the most prepared, skating an impressive 15 minutes a night as a rookie (even strength).

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  • Taylor Hall 10-11: 1.78
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 11-12: 1.98
  • Nail Yakupov 12-13: 2.19

These are nice numbers, but Yak City’s is the best by a nice margin. You could say he’s there because of better linemates than Hall enjoyed as a rookie (Horcoff was Hall’s center, Gagner was Yak’s) and that’s true. Still, let’s at least allow for the possibility that the young Russian may be a more effective NHL scorer at 5×5. Which is, you know, incredible considering Hall’s 2012-13 number (3.04) is well inside the league’s top 10.


  • Taylor Hall 10-11: 3.27
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 11-12: 7.30
  • Nail Yakupov 12-13: 4.30

The Nuge as a rookie on the PP was a freak. His second season wasn’t as effective, but we know he was playing with an injury. If he can get within 5 miles of that rookie number in his NHL career the Nuge is going to drive NHL opposition crazy.


I’m not going to post CorsiRel (shot differential) for each rookie, but suffice to say Hall led the team by a nice margin, the Nuge was mid-pack (6th) and Yakupov was 9th–suggesting what our eyes have seen is in fact correct: Hall was pushing the river early and often, Nuge had some nice indicators before injury and Yakupov has some chaos to his game that makes him more of a project in this area.


These are ridiculous talents. If we could identify the Iron Man in the group, we’d have our winner. Based on the information currently available, I’d bet on Taylor Hall. It is to the credit of the other two players that the race is close at all.

The Kingston trio is special, and they are just getting rolling.

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  • striatic

    Who cares, Oilers have been one of the worst teams in the NHL in the last 7 years. Most teams don’t take them seriously and don’t bring their A game. Players like Hall Eberle RNH look good because they are playing against good teams that bring their B game. Also they look good because most of the Oilers are AHL calibre , you can’t finish near last place for 7 years with real NHL players

    That is what is wrong with stats.

    • Death Metal Nightmare

      Ya, Taylor Hall gets 48 points in 44 games because every team he plays against brings their B game. That kid makes the leagues best defenders look lije pilons. Yes they still aren’t as good as they need to be, but I’m seeing improvements and at least those improvements are now attainable through this painful rebuild. 4 yrs ago we didn’t have an asset to offer in a trade. But my main point, is that we are not icing AHLers anymore. The kids are solid, they just need a support cast.

      • Rocknrolla

        Hall absolutely took a dump as did all these so called stars when they had a chance. It got physical and fast for a couple of games and the so called stars decided not to compete. As long as they can keep playing in meaningless games, Oiler fans will think these guys are future stars.

    • Dyckster

      “teams don’t take them seriously and don’t bring their A game” And you know this how? Minny is fighting for their playoff lives, I’m pretty sure they didn’t mail it in yesterday because of who they were playing. To quote some of Oilersnation’s finest “Trololololol”.

      Edit – justDOit beat me toit. (see what I did there?)

      • Minn did not play well , they wanted to bring their A game didn’t happen.

        But that is 1 game, if you watch hockey over the years you see good teams not taking Edm seriously. A team that finishes last or near last in that last 4yrs you can’t really give much thought to in a 82 game season. They are not respected around the league and why should they be.

        Call me a troll if you want to but I will call you delusional.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          once more, they outshot EDM by a 7-3 margin.

          how is this “not bringing their A game”?

          They lost because shooting and save % lucked in EDM’s favor huge.

        • Dyckster

          I’ll agree the Oilers likely are not respected around the league, however I don’t believe for a minute teams don’t play to their full capabilities when we’re the opposition. Saying they DON’T bring their ‘A’ game is very different then saying they wanted to bring their ‘A’ game but for some reason couldn’t.

  • striatic

    Right now Hall is obviously the best but he’s also the oldest..I think it’s fair to expect Hopkins to be at Hall’s level by next year(defensively he’s already there) and Yakupov might even get there as early as next season as well based on how he’s progressed in the short season.
    I wonder if Yakupov would be elibible to play in the OKC playoffs this year, I think the experience would help him, that’s if Russia doesn’t invite him to play in the IIHF tournament.

  • Lowetide

    For me YAK wins the race maybe even next year if the coach gives him equal playing time . My optimal lines are Ebs/ RNH / ?? ; Hall , Yak ??? ; . If still here Gags goes with Yak & Hall but my gut says his gone . Last is Horc & Hemsky on third line plus ??? . McT has some decisions to make and then Krueger does .

  • John Chambers

    Hall and Yak on a line together is a Renoir. Add a healthy Nuge into the mix and you might have the top line in hockey for a long long time.

    If MacT can add a 2nd line +Corsi player, and some depth to the 3rd and 4th lines, watch out.

    Oh, and some defense too!

  • I still believe, as I always have that Hall is developing into the full package, and when he finally grows into the leadership role, will be the one to grab his teammates by the scruff of thier jersey and will them to victory. For that Hall will always be the number 1 for me on this list.

    Yak-city though looks like he could turn into a future Rocket-Richard winner, and The Nuge has Selke written all over him.

    I would bet anyone though that if an Oiler brings home a Conn Smythe in the next decade his name will be TAYLOR F’N HALL!

    • Horcoff is the anti-christ of offence……….most of the time, he bungles any offensive play and once in a while by accident he actually converts a play. Having Horcoff playing with talented guys is an absolute waste of time, he will only bring the entire line down.

      What we need to do is place him on the fourth line where he can provide experience and assistance to players equal to his skill set.

  • I’m not going to even try and project who maybe better in the long run…………..Just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.

    Of course it might help the trio if we could manage to get a fourth……everything good happens in four’s!

    I just made that last part up……….Barkov!! or Monahan!!

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Hall is a beast. He’s crushing the league right now.

    As far as other teams bringing their “B game”

    That simply isn’t the case. Last night, like most Oiler games, we were badly outplayed. We simply managed to ride variance to a lopsided win.

    Replay that game 100 times with the same shot differential and we lose 70% of the games.

    Now… if you simply play the Oilers top line (the Hall line) against the other top lines in the league, guess what… the Hall line crushes the opposition. invariably.

    The Oilers are a very bad team that has a stellar core of young players, of which Hall is the centerpiece.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      Agree, their core of 4 players are very skilled and Hall will probably be a superstar in this league. But until they play playoffs games we don’t know what type of players they will become. Less ice, less calls in the playoffs and everyone brings their A game or a least try’s too.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Well, I think we don’t know what any of them will become in any sense let alone NHL playoffs. That’s what contingency is kind of about.

        But, if you simply mean we don’t know if they will perform in pressure situations… these are people who have played a lot of hockey in their young lives…

        I’d put more weight on their performances in other tournaments (jr. and international) than on some elusive question mark with an assumption of failure.

        That said, again… we simply don’t know… the future is a contingent bitch.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      Ask 29 other GM’s if they would take our top six and you would probably get 29 yes’s. The years that MacT coached this team he had plough horses instead of the studs that this team has currently in its top 6.Never mind the raw talent of a JS. Tambo couldn’t provide his studs with any plough horses. MacT will not have that issue. Add a Monohan or a Nurse and this teams taent increases once agin. Though I like the big 6’2 Monohan. MacT will clean house this summer. The Oil faithful need only wait until the playoffs are over then the culling will begin. I count at least 13 contracts that MacT will have the opportunity to dump,not resign,let go,cull,buy out. I look forward to seeing a GM actually do something. If we drat 7-8 I could see the Oilers picking up a contract like Teddy Purcell in exchange for higher draft position. Tbay is capped out. Buy out Vinny? Not likely.

        • sometimes, you make a ton of sense DSF, I can think of more than a few teams that would be quite pleased with keeping their top 6. Point being, theres 4 guys that matter in that top 6 and we’ll see if Mac T can provide the other 2, be means of trade or free agency. But it has to be clear to management that the current crop can’t get it done when teams decide to turn up the heat and lean in the corners.

        • Cheap Shot Charlie

          Oh, Man my abs just start feeling better after your last post and you go and make me laugh again!!! You should see my 6 pack! And I owe it all to you DSF!!

          I love you, man! *HUG*

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        This exchange rosters idea, which KL brought up, doesn’t make much sense to me as a heuristic for comparing teams.

        A lot goes in to building a team, attachments to players are formed, needs (real or imagined) are felt in specific areas (skill, grit, size, etc.)…

        To simply swap rosters (aside from i’s great distance from reality) doesn’t seem very compelling to me or offer a great deal of information on how a team gets built to succeed, or the many different ways in which team building works.

        That said, the top 6 of RNH, Hall, Eberle; Gagner, Yakupov and Hemsky is an exceptional collection of players. However, they are unlikely to be together next year.

        I hope they are.

  • LIke the idea of Hall and Yak on the same line.
    With a real center they could do damage in this league.

    Time to make Hall the Captn. of this team… new guard to take over…

    PS: Horcoff, looks old and slow on that line.. time to move one..

    • striatic

      i agree.

      Hall should be captain next year, no question.

      wasn’t sure of it this year, and preferred Eberle in that role but i’ve come around to Hall this season.

      Boy’s a Lion.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    You’re looking at it wrong Jefffffffffffffffffffffff. I think it’s exactly the opposite, opposing teams take the Oilers very seriously due to their deadly offensive firepower and do their best to shut them down as effectively as possible. A team that didn’t give a crap or didn’t play hard against them will pay the price and every team in the league knows this.

    The Oilers lose because they don’t have the size and physical talents to match the pressure other teams put against them or even power through it. When we can get the right combination of power and grit to go with the skill, the Oilers will start winning those close games they aren’t right now.

    They aren’t losing because teams are like ‘Oh, meh. The Oilers. Can totally sit back and just mail it in to win tonight.’ Get a grip man, this is the NHL.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    I don’t know who will be the best but I do know that I like what I see when Hall and Yak are on the same line. Two stallions like that really keep the opposition on their toes. Stick Nuge in the middle and that would be one deadly trio. Now if we only we could fix the other three lines and the three D pairings we would be set!

  • lucky

    Hall is now seasoned, he has played the man’s game and has lost his awe of it, so the game is slowing for him. He is no longer just driving guys back, he is bending them to his will. The day will come for RNH and Yak, because the talent is indisputable. Last year at this time Ebs was in that debate and he hasn’t forgotten how to play hockey. But Hall brings more, he is capable of putting the team on his shoulders. Real heart is something you can’t hide. In Minnie, its as if Ralph said we can still win something, let’s get Yak the Calder, and Taylor said “let’s do just that”. This is Hall’s team and Mac T is smart enough to know it.
    Whatever the situation was with Tambo – whether he was truly as useless behind the closed door as he was on stage, or whether he was never granted any real authority and was signed up only to take the fall – I think MacT has the ‘nads (and relationship with the Crown) to actually get started on this re-build. The key word here is “build”, which comes from the GM’s chair, not the drafting department, and was something Tambo was either incapable of or prohibited from doing. Give Tambo credit for OKC, and one day we’ll read about the rest in his memoirs, but not until after the hush money period expires.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    i don’t care who is going to have the better career. lines function as units and this should be the top line of the Oilers moving forward.

    bring us a cup and 20+ years from now i’ll have escapist conversations about which career “mattered most” of these three.

    Eberle is fine in spurts but Yakupov is just way too explosive and up to speed with Hall. throw in the plodding genius of RNH down the middle and those two should rack up near 40 each year. way too dangerous.

    Yak still has some chaos to work out of his rookie game, but he will.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Well, as nice as the score was last night, the fact we were outshot 36 – 17 kind of tells a different story of the game. Yes, I love our young great players, but if they’re not converting on their chances, twice as well as the other team, we don’t win games like this. And that’s how it’s gone all year. The difference between our wins and losses comes down to converting, not by being the better team. And that just isn’t something you can count on unfortunately. I will be happy with our team when our shot differential is in the positive.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Hall is definitely the man of that group but, like others have said, he’s had a year or two jump on the other guys. In the end they’ll all have had fine careers, let’s just hope the majority of it are with the Oilers.

    At the risk of being lit up, I would like to pose the ques: What kind of return would an Eberle bring? I ask because having Hemsky and Yakupov here next year would afford the team the opportunity to take advantage of the depth at RW. Would he bring back that gritty forward and a good/youngish defenseman? IE Wilson and Josi from Nash… Wilson can play both the wing and centre, and would look great with say a Gagner and Hemsky on a second line…

    Hall Nuge YakCity
    Wilson Gagner Hemsky

    Josi Petry
    Smid Shultz

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Nuge 103 pts 25 goals,Hall 86 pts 38 goals,Yakupov 76 pts 45 goals.

    Just guessing here but over 82 games it will be interesting to see how things go.

    Everyone is growing so fast it is amazing ,have you seen Halls forearms or Magnuses shoulders? The kids are filling out, next year they will start hurting opponents with their bodychecks ,the speed they all carry will be supported by more weight.

    Those point total guesses include special teams work.

  • Rocknrolla

    Did RNH center Hall and Yak at all during the year?

    Seeing Hall and Yak together worked well. I can only imagine what a line of these 3 together would look like.