HALL C?

 

The Edmonton Oilers asked Taylor Hall to position switch this fall, and the young man said  he’d do his best. Now, Dallas Eakins backup plan looks pretty good (borrowing a line) as the club approaches opening night. I’m wondering if that kind of moment–where the player expresses a preference in position but adopts a new position to help the club–might be the backdrop for the Oilers to name him their new captain.

HE’S THEIR BEST PLAYER!

Although the Oilers have a passel of gifted youngsters, Hall’s the Alpha male in the group and their best player. He’s been pushing the river at 5×5 since he was a teenager and he’s been delivering results against the toughest opponents available. Hall’s move to center has to be considered a Godsend at this point, and his ability to play the position (Ray Ferraro was commenting during this week’s broadcast about how well Hall is adjusting) isn’t a major concern at this point. A lot to learn, but a quick study.

Which is incredible. Athletes. They’re amazing. 

Hall could very well move back to LW when Nuge and Gagner return, but the thought of keeping him there is very, very interesting. Imagine a top 9F that looks like this:

(C-L-R)

  • Hall-Smyth-Hemsky
  • Nuge-Perron-Eberle
  • Gagner-Joensuu-Yakupov

If Smyth begins to falter, the club could put Boyd Gordon in Gagner’s slot and move 89 to the top line with 4 and 83. That’s some outstanding talent, more than we’ve seen since the Boys on the Bus in this town. 

And the leader? Turns 22 in November. 

HE’S TOO YOUNG!

There’s a lot we can find wrong about today’s youth (here) but there’s a lot of good too. Although Taylor Hall might be a little young for the captaincy, it’s also true that he’s been a leader since his arrival, and the cluster’s heart can be traced to his draft day. 

There are other quality options, but from here Taylor Hall looks like the right choice. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

This fall’s training camp may be brought to you by the number "4" and the letter "C" as the biggest items are Taylor Hall moving to center and emerging as a young leader. The young man has sacrificed the known comforts of the wing and ventured forth into a more difficult job with no guarantee of success–and made the transition (so far) very well.

Doesn’t that sound like a leader? I think it does.

  • Batfink

    Also, during my military days, I saw a few instances of some people with huge potential, but maybe a little wild being given promotion and responsibility to ‘ground’ them out. Being under greater scrutiny from senior ranks did not allow them to show their wilder sides. Also, they were so busy with the extra duties of a leader they had no time to party hearty! Could this be applied to Hall……

  • Batfink

    Hall would be a good Captain as he makes all around him play better . If you cam make Smyth and Hemsky look good , you’ve got something special . Hopkins and Eberle to a lesser extent in that regard , and Yak looks like he will follow closer to Hall . Gagner is not at that level from what I have seen -slightly below the 4 of them and not as dynamic . Far to early for Ference . Question : Who now becomes the Union rep for Oilers ?

  • Dan 1919

    I fail to see how agreeing to move to Centre makes Hall worthy of the captaincy. I would hope every Oiler would do what the coaching staff asks of them.

    I also don’t agree that just because Hall should be our captain just because he is our best player.

    The fact that he is 22 doesn’t mean he isn’t ready to be captain. But I do think he lacks the maturity necessary to be captain. The way he conducts himself around town is less than ideal.

    With everything that Ference has done since he has arrived in Edmonton, how do you not make him captain? He’s already engaged in the community in a very meaningful way. Not only that, but he was a key part of a recent Stanley Cup championship team. To me he shows a lot more leadership than Hall does.

    I would name Ference captain, and maybe when he retires in 4 years Hall will be ready for the C.

    • The thing with Andrew Ference is that he does all that while not needing the “C”. I feel he is one of those guys that doesn’t need/crave the “C” to be a leader on the team – he just does it whether he has it or not and that won’t change. I’d think that coming to a new city to a new team and then handing him the captaincy might just put a bit too much pressure on him that isn’t really needed. If he is doing all that while not having to continually talk to the media, why not just leave it be?

  • Dan 1919

    Hall is the best choice for captain, he has the work ethic that every captain should display, he has the ability to bring instant energy to the team with one shift (something that when choosing a less impactful captain like Giordano you will seldom get), and he is more concerned about winning hockey games than anything else. And in a league where 34 is considered old, Taylor Hall is plenty “old” enough.

    Horcoff is gone and I don’t mean to heckle the guy, but when guys come to the team where the third line centre is a captain, and even though he was very “professional,” it automatically puts your team in a different category than when you have a captain like Toews, Chara, or Crosby.

    Now when guys show up to the Oilers and they look up and see one of the best players in the league wearing the C and giving it 98% every shift, they realize they better compete just as hard to be apart of this squad.

  • Zarny

    Hall is certainly on the short list but I think you have to be in the locker room to know.

    Hall at C is in intriguing but it leaves a massive hole on LW. Hall’s speed might get him to the Olympics. You can’t throw an anchor like Smyth on his W.

    Hall setting up one-timers with a LH RW like Yakupov has potential. The reverse works wonders for Stamkos-St. Louis.

  • Batfink

    This team goes as Hall goes, this is simply a different team without him in the lineup. When he was drafted he came in as a player who led hus team to two memorial cups and mvp twice. Hall is a special player and this is his team!