TAYLOR HALL: 200 IN THE BOOKS

Taylor Hall played his 200th NHL game for the Edmonton Oilers in a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center Wednesday. In many ways, the milepost was a microcosm of his tenure since the Oilers made him the first overall pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.

Hall, 22, roared up and down the ice like a freight train coming off the rails most shifts, driving the attack on many of them, getting little accomplished on others. Hall pumped seven shots on goal. He busted to the net on a partial breakaway down the left wing, went to the backhand, fumbled the puck and crashed into the corner boards.

Defensively, Hall made a terrible giveaway, throwing a puck to Anze Kopitar, of all people. He missed some assignments. About the only thing that wasn’t par for the course in all the above, as hot as Hall’s been, is he didn’t manage a point as Martin Jones turned aside all 24 shots he faced.

Still raw, often ragged, Hall is a work-in-progress. While he’s knocked off some of the edges, he’s in many ways still very much the same instinctual player he was as two-time Memorial Cup MVP of the Windsor Spitfires. Hall is more like a finicky Ferrari than a reliable Ford pick-up, which is exactly what you expect from a No. 1 overall pick.

He’s far from a finished product. 

Class of his Class 

By the most basic numbers, Hall reaches the 200-game mark with 77-96-173, good for .87 PPG. He’s scored 12-16-28 in 29 games this season (.97) after tearing it up for 16-34-50 in 45 games (1.11) last season. That, on the heels of a 27-26-53 through 61 games in 2011-12 and 22-20-42 in 65 games as a rookie in 2010-11.

When I look at the draft class of 2010, there isn’t a player, be it a forward or a defenseman, I’d rather have than Hall, not one player who stacks up better with draft day not so long ago. Not just by the numbers, but by any measure, at least from where I sit.

Not No. 2 pick Tyler Seguin, who has 154 points in 234 games. Not Carolina’s Jeff Skinner, who has 152 points in 211 games. Defensemen? Nope. Cam Fowler of Anaheim is the best blueliner of the class to this point and I wouldn’t trade Hall straight up for him, which is saying something as badly as the Oilers need actual NHL defensemen.

Flaws and all – and there are a few – Hall’s performance through 200 games on a bottom-feeder like the Oilers is unmatched by his peers. There can’t be any real argument about that, as there was for a time among the fan base in the Taylor-Tyler debate leading into the draft in Los Angeles. 

Trade Hall

Jason Gregor has long made the argument the Oilers are going to have to dip into their talented group of top-six forwards to make the mix right and more important, acquire other players necessary to round out the roster – notably, but not limited to, a proven top pairing defenseman. I agree with him.

If I’m looking at Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov as possible pawns in re-configuring this roster, the two players who don’t go on the table are Hall and RNH. I’m not saying they can’t be traded, but unless Craig MacTavish has a Norris Trophy candidate coming back, they don’t enter the conversation, at least if I’m MacT.

Of course, with the Oilers facing an eighth year out of the playoffs, some fans, rightfully sour, and media types might feel differently. One e-mailer to Gregor’s show today called Hall a prima donna, suggesting he’d trade him in a heartbeat. Really? For who? That’s frustration talking. Crazy talk.

There are a lot of things wrong with the 2013-14 edition of the Oilers. Hall is not one them.

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

  • srbuhr

    While I think hall may become a great player he isn’t now and frankly no way Dallas would trade Seguin straight up for Hall. That alone tells you who is the better player from 2010 at this point. I would take Tyler over Taylor anyday.

  • Serious Gord

    I will focus my comments on Taylor Hall – not the concept/idea of moving two of the six. But for the record, those moves would not have to be made if hemsky and gagner had been moved more than a year ago as i and others said at the time. The horse has left the barn on that opportunity and now the same inept management is going to have to sell some of the future to salvage some of the shorter term.

    Back to TH. There is another player who had similar promise back in the day who had similar promise and who delivered good but not great perfrom

    • reaperfunkss

      Serious Gord, couldn’t agree more. Hemsky and Gagner are Lowe’s boys and his deals. Hemsky should have been dealth two years ago, and Gagner 10 minuetes after he got the 8 points against the Hawks.

      I think Gagner means well, but he really is not a 2 nd line player center or wing. Yesterdays game he was on he ice for all 3 Kings goals.. I think his hockey IQ is not that good.

      But I would give serious taught to trading Hall for a PK Suban or that other guy from the Preds.

      • james_dean

        I stand by what I wrote. No sarcasm. Taylor Hall is the best player on the roster. If Tyler seguin would be an Oiler, not only would he be poison in the locker room but he would shut her down on the ice. Ference was a mistake as the C. Next C is Taylor. When looking at potential Team Canada’s roster Hall should be on.

        • srbuhr

          Then you started drinking far to early. Hall is a good player but far from great. Until he learns to play 200ft he will only be a player that has the potential to be a game breaker. No way should he be on the Olympic team, and until he truly starts to show leadership on the ice he should also not be captain.

          And in the event he asks for a trade then that truly shows a lack of character. Good players make those around them better and help win championships. If Taylor isn’t willing to do his part for the oilers let’s hope he is worth enough in a trade to move the club out of the ditch.

          • The Real Scuba Steve

            Beyond your obvious superficial sarcasm, I would remind you that my boycott is of a financial nature. Nothing to do with blogging. In exactly what way am I annoying? Some folks here are on full lip service trip, speculating on exactly what solution will get the boat afloat in stormy waters. As fans, where do we go from here? More lip service on who should be traded? Really?
            How about another “moral victory” tonight perhaps? Let’s not point fingers at the source of this failure, namely the development dept and the assistant coaches. Oh no! Let’s feed on the mob mentality on here and all offer our biased opinions. What will be attributable to tonight’s loss?

    • Zarny

      Not a chance. Ference was the right player to name Captain this year. The only other player that has proven himself worthy is Perron.

      One day I expect Hall or Nuge to wear the C. This year though all of the kids have proven they aren’t ready yet.

      Too often Hall, Nuge and Eberle are not the best players on the ice. They make far too many defensive errors and they aren’t ready to lead a group of men.

      Being Captain isn’t about scoring points.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Hall’s a gem.

    The warts we all see are there. But they are there on every player, esp. every really young player like Hall.

    Hall’s warts are just a lot more exposed because this team was built “by neglect” and there are no vets to shelter the kids from the storm.

    No vets = tough sledding all the time. It also = losing all the time and that = a hell of a lot of scrutiny.

    Bad recipe for clear headed evaluation.

    At any rate, I don’t trade any of Hall, RNH, Eberle, Yakupov. I don’t think you have to either to solve this puzzle.

  • Rdubb

    Come on Robin, really? Eberle MUST be on that list of non-tradable players with Hall & RNH as Eberle has by far the best touch of all the Oilers around the net. Eberle is a proven clutch player, & has proven time & time again over his young career, from the world juniors to the NHL, scoring big & timely goals.
    Ebe’s is the opposite of Hall, who is a “power forward” in the making, skating up & down the ice with speed, & Ebe’s is that stick handling player, making moves, passing the puck and picking corners, he also has a quick release as the puck is hardly ever on his stick very long…Eberle is Halls yang…
    It is my opinion that Yak is the player who MUST be moved on this team as from every Oiler fans perspective, he is a very hard player to coach since he doesn’t want to work on his defensive game, his upside is his shot, and he is a hard worker on the offensive side of the puck. Yak plays his best (in my opinion) when he decides to hit, skate in all 3 zones & use his line mates, which he rarely ever does…
    Sam is the other, as he doesn’t want to do what is best for the team, and that’s moving to the wing. Sam has never been an offensive threat, and take out that 8 point game, and that season’s total would look nearly as good. Should someone offer some value for him, MacT should jump on it, hand shake or not (and I believe in the handshake very much as it is as important as that piece of paper. A man’s word is very important to his character)…
    And final piece, Petry…a good 3-4 d-man, but not a number 1 or 2. If a package could be worked out for a true #1, than he too can be & should be included…
    Hall, RNH & Eberle as NON-TRADEABLE pieces in the Oilers future…

  • Word to the Bird

    Anyone who says Seguin over Hall should give their heads a shake. Hall has more points in less games on a worse team. He won 2 memorial cups and won MVP both years. You could say Seguin won a cup but I doubt many people would say he was an “integral” part to their cup win.

    • S cottV

      Had the Oilers made an assessment that Gagner was not going to cut it as a 2C, then maybe they lean more toward Seguin at the draft.

      Centres should get priority over wingers, if close and certainly when you have no projected depth in the middle.

      Now we have a 20 yr old 1C, a guy who cant play 2C, a decent 3C but on a contender would be a 4C and an unproven 4C.

      So – while I support the Hall selection, arguably – we might have been better off right now with Seguin in the middle.

    • Spiel

      On what were supposedly equally skilled teams this year Seguin has more points (and points per game) than Hall while being a plus player and playing center as opposed to wing.

      Taylor vs Tyler is not the closed book that this article makes it out to be.
      Think about the Oilers roster with Seguin instead of Hall.

      Having Seguin and RNH at center means Gagner was traded a long time ago. The team would still have Perron, Eberle, Yakupov, Hemsky as top 6 wingers.

      • srbuhr

        And at least two games annually where Tyler and the Nuge would feast on the turnovers at the blue line Hall is famous for. I think Hall could be great but he has a lot of work to do yet.

  • A common misnomer but Hall was not captain of the Spits.

    Harry Young in 09
    Ryan Ellis in 10

    He was a captain in the prospects game.

    No matter… he was the engine that drove the bus… as he is here.

  • Posti

    Everyone is so hot on Eberle and that’s the piece I would trade because of it. He is a sniper but soft on the defensive side of the game. Never on the body always stickwork. He misses a poke check and then he gives up. Yakupov can take his spot on the top line if it means we have the all star d man this team so desperately needs. Webber makes Nashville at least competitive imagine what he could do here. All the best teams have a complete stud on D.

    Nothing will happen this year in landing a star d-man but at the draft I could see MacTavish making some noise. I would throw everything I could at Nashville and go for Webber. Eberle, Petry and our 1st round pick might make them wake up and take notice.

    • Puck JammeR!

      I agree, I think Eberle is the one who should and probably will go. I think out of all our young guys, Eberle is the closest to a finished product. He’s a very good offensive player and I think he’ll have a long career and score 400+ goals, but I doubt he’ll ever turn into a player who’s defensively capable or hard to play against. He’s also got the track record of being a young 30 goal scorer and I think his trade value is higher than anyone, save maybe Hall.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    bang on when you say you wouldn’t trade Hall or Nuge. I wouldn’t either only because Hall is our best player and Nuge is the best center we’ve had here since, what, Doug Weight? and we all know how starved the organization is for top centers…..we have none after Nuge! but, after a season like this, as far as I am concerned, it’s open season on everyone else!