Taylor Hall has not played at his usual levels this season, but has been turning it on in the last 10 games (5-7-12, +1 in that time). For the first time since summer, there are rumblings about his chances to make the Canadian Olympic team. He makes my team all day, for the single reason that he’s a human chance machine, but does he have a realistic chance?
CENTER AND INJURIES
This has been a weird start for Hall in 2013-14, he was a center early and then the injury against Ottawa sent him sideways (and he may not be back completely from that injury, although he certainly looked like he was able to wheel against Colorado on Thursday night) and helped doom the Oilers for this year.
- Hall in October: 9, 3-5-8 -6
- Hall in November: 11, 4-7-11 -2
- Hall in December: 3, 3-2-5 +1
He’s heading in a good direction, and the boxcars are always good to great with this guy. Let’s compare Hall’s numbers—in a season we can all agree has seen some struggles—to other candidates for LW on Canada’s Olympic team:
- Taylor Hall, 23, 10-14-24 (1.04)
- Chris Kunitz 30, 16-14-30 (1.00)
- Logan Couture 29, 10-17-27 (.931)
- Jamie Benn 27, 7-18-25 (.926)
- Matt DuChene 24, 12-9-21 (.875)
- Patrick Sharp 31, 11-13-24 (.774)
Now, we know there will be center’s moving over and that offense isn’t the only thing, but Hall’s "uneven" season seems to stack up nicely with the other candidates and he’s so good on NHL ice the mind boggles about what he could do with skill on the big ice.
If you put a racehorse beside a plough horse and ask them to till the fields all day, perhaps other men were meant to lead national teams. However, there’s no denying Hall did struggle under Ruff’s guidance this past spring and we’ve seen him fly the zone with frequency as an Oiler this season.
If Hall doesn’t make the team because he hasn’t been eating his vegetables, I think there’s an argument there that suggests that Hall is not the best role player for the team (a player like Sharp is a better fit with a wider range).
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
I’d suggest that Hall’s natural fit—on the skill lines with the skill players—will end up going to Kunitz, or Couture or Benn. There are a lot of things in play aside from natural ability, including legit concerns about overall skills and inconsistency this season, and we’d be naive to think politics doesn’t enter into the equation.
For me, Hall makes the team without a throw. In the real world of hockey decision making, I suspect he’s on the outside looking in. Fair? No.
Taylor Hall is worthy of Olympic selection. It’s too easy for the men in suits to say "next time" and dance the mess around.