Hall of a thing

Taylor Hall has hit a totally different level this season. The Edmonton Oilers are one team with him on the ice, they’re a completely different team when he’s sitting on the bench.

The Chart

The chart above lays out the numbers behind Hall’s performance, and shows the wide gap between the Oilers with him on and off the ice. The dark blue line represents Hall, and hovers around the 55% mark – meaning that 55% of all even-strength scoring chances with Hall on the ice are going the Oilers’ way. That might not sound impressive, but the Canucks won the Presidents’ Trophy last year scoring only 54% of the even-strength goals in their games. It’s an outstanding clip.

This is particularly true when compared to the rest of the Oilers’ roster. The Oilers, needless to say, are not the 2011-12 Vancouver Canucks at even-strength. They’re hanging around the 40% mark on the season (counting only games Hall has played in), meaning the rest of the lineup generates two scoring chances to every three for the opposition.

Hall’s line has been especially good over the last eight games. With him on the ice at even-strength, the Oilers have out-chanced the opposition 53-28 over that span; with anyone else on the ice they’ve been out-chanced 76-50. Anybody watching the games has seen a dominant performance; the numbers just show how dominant he’s been.

He’s the first first

The player Taylor Hall is at 21 is something very special, and as the oldest of the group of first overall draft picks it shouldn’t be a surprise that he was the first one to really have a breakthrough campaign. The best news for the Oilers is that there’s more to come. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins turns 20 this week; he’s already an exceptional player (and better this year than last, despite the superficial drop in points) and there’s good reason to think more is on the way. Nail Yakupov won’t turn 20 until October, and he’s just a hair shy of Hall’s scoring pace as a rookie despite being more of a raw player than Hall was as at the same point in his career. It’s probably fair to say we haven’t even scratched the surface of what he will be capable of doing in his prime.

There are things to worry about with this team. Hall isn’t one of them. And while each of these first overall picks is a unique player with his own set of skills – nobody knows at this juncture which one will end up as the best of the lot – in my books it would be nuts to move any of them without first finding out just how good they can be.

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  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Good read Willis, with all the gloom and doom it’s hard to remember just how good, and how young some of these kids are, and where the might be in the following years.

    What impresses me most is Hall’s work ethic and compete level. He’s just always doing something every shift. If we can sort out our second line, this is going to be such a dangerous team.

      • Clyde Frog

        Missing one big winger for the second line. Get rid of Hemsky and roll 91-57-56 as the 3rd line. Who cares about the 4th. Have a good 2nd pairing. 5-2 , missing a #2 dman. Already have a future #1 (19). So missing lots still but don’t act like there not getting closer. Also have a #1 goalie alrrady

      • bwar

        Ha, I was actually typing something very similar and thought about where that comment was going to lead and decided not to go there again today. But since you brought it up. See if trading Gags to Philly for Coturier gets it done, then see what kind of Hemsky package you need for Yandle.

        Is that completely unrealistic to think we could trade a smaller skill centre who is having a great year, for a larger less skilled centre who is struggling. And would we want to do that. And seriously, Yandle, just make it happen already. He’s been top ten in defensive scoring for a few years now. What is it going to take to get this guy?

        Or a more simple solution it to trade Hemsky for a bigger power forward LW, then move Yak to RW. I know we currently have 2 of those guys in Harti and Magnus, but for all their development I just don’t think they’re there yet.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Hall is definitely the offensive catalyst not only on the team but on his line too.

    But you have to give RNH a little more credit. Ebs too, just not as much. Look at Hall’s scoring chances when he didn’t play with those guys. Especially when he played with Hemsky and *insert any center here*.

    • I give both Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins a lot of credit. Both are very good hockey players; and I think Nugent-Hopkins has the chance to be something very special.

      Which makes the fact that Hall’s the best player on his line even more impressive.