Where should Hall play?

Taylor Hall is close to returning to the lineup. He has been skating with the team this week, and I won’t be surprised to see him in the lineup on Saturday vs. the Philadelphia Flyers.

Which line should he play on?

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I’ve chuckled reading and hearing comments from people suggesting the Oilers are better off without Hall. They have won five of the 20 games since Hall broke a bone in his leg vs. San Jose. It is ridiculously inaccurate to say the Oilers are better off without him.

Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have produced sans Hall, which is a great sign, because good teams need at least two productive lines if they want to win. You also need to stop allowing 3+ goals a game, but that’s an article for another day.

Today, I want to focus on the options Todd Nelson will look at regarding Hall.

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Let’s start with the easy one. He will take Matt Hendricks spot on the 2nd unit PP. There is no reason to split up the first unit, and having two productive units is a great thing. Also, don’t suggest Hall will hurt the PP. In 2013, when the Oilers PP was successful, Hall was 2nd on the team with 14 PP points. He has a hard shot and is a good passer. He will be an excellent addition to the Roy/Yakupov PP unit.

Where he plays five-on-five is open for debate.

Nelson could reunite him with RNH and Eberle, but I don’t see why he would do that. Benoit Pouliot has fit in well on that line, and if Hall is on a different line that means either his line or Eberle’s line won’t have to face the opposition’s top defence pairing.

Sliding Hall on the left side of Derek Roy and Yakupov seems very likely. The suggestion Hall and Yakupov play a different style and won’t produce is also not true.

Player Pos  Pts  Shots  Corsi  TOI GF60  GA60  GF%  CF60  CA60  CF% 
Taylor Hall L 7 4 11 22 39 185:40:00  4.2 3.23 56.5 49.4 64 44
Benoit Pouliot L 2 3 4 24 41 173:51:00 2.42 3.11 43.8 49.4 62.5 44.1
Ryan Hamilton L 2 1 3 9 13 75:05:00 2.4 2.4 50 39.2 65.5 37.4
Jordan Eberle R 1 3 4 39 69 341:07:00 1.93 5.45 26.2 51.9 62.1 45.5
Derek Roy C 3 8 11 48 105 379:16:00 1.9 3.16 37.5 49.4 60.6 44.9
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C 0 4 4 45 68 345:31:00 1.56 4.34 26.5 43.6 65.1 40.1
Anton Lander C 1 0 1 12 23 96:15:00 1.25 3.74 25 48.6 69.2 41.3
Teddy Purcell R 0 3 3 38 74 256:47:00 0.93 2.34 28.6 56.1 62.4 47.3
Boyd Gordon C 0 0 0 8 9 71:02:00 0 4.22 0 43.1 62.5 40.8
Matt Hendricks C 0 0 0 4 7 36:32:00 0 3.28 0 37.8 75.6 33.3
Luke Gazdic L 0 0 0 2 7 33:01:00 0 1.82 0 38.2 76.3 33.3
Rob Klinkhammer C 0 0 0 2 3 4:34 0 26:28 0 65.7 65.7 50

You will notice how much more productive Yakupov has been when playing with Hall. They’ve only played 185 ES minutes together, but Yakupov has tallied seven goals and 11 points. He has produced 11 points ES points playing with Roy as well, but in 379 minutes.

Most players are more productive playing with Hall, but Yakupov has had so much more success with Hall than any other player on the roster, and it seems obvious to put Hall on that line. Playing Hall with Roy and Yakupov at ES, could help them on the PP as well.

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Eberle mentioned to me on Monday that the reason he believes their PP is so successful is because Nelson has kept him and RNH together every game, and the PP unit has only seen players changed out due to injuries. Eberle feels the continuity factor has helped his game, and if that is the case then playing Hall/Roy/Yakupov at ES and on the PP makes sense.

The other option is playing Hall with Anton Lander. Lander has played very well.

He’s producing on the PP, and he looks so much more confident with the puck. I’d play Hall with him just to see what Lander could do at ES playing with a proven NHL scoring winger. I really like Lander’s competitiveness. He isn’t afraid to yap at guys, or give them a little jab here and there. He is very responsible defensively, and he is making plays offensively.

It would also give the Oilers three lines with a scoring threat.

For the first time in a long time, an Oilers head coach has some realistic options on how to deploy his top lines, and the return of Hall should make Nelson’s job a bit easier.

Who would you play Hall with? Why?

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Recently by Jason Gregor:         

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  • tileguy

    I am a little worried that if we put Hall with Yak we would have 2 individuals trying to push the river, a good example last nite of Yak trying to skate through 4 players on the pp. I would put Hall with Lander as a end of the year experiment and see if Lander takes another leap forward.

  • dougtheslug

    Put the kids back together on the 1st line and pouliot on the 2nd and I bet the 2nd starts clicking even more pouliot fed Roy a nice pass last night could see some chemistry there

  • bazmagoo

    Personally I’d like to see Hall line up with Lander. Two reasons. #1 – Lander has been playing well even though he’s saddled with AHL line mates and #2 – Purcell, Yak, and Roy have been playing well together and have chemistry. Hall-Lander and whoever would be a good experiment to try out for the remainder of the season and would give the Oilers 3 potential scoring lines. When was the last time we could say that?!

    Another big factor for me right now is Pouliot’s play. He’s so sound defensively (best +/- on the team) it opens up a lot of space for Nuge and Ebs to go for scoring opportunities which we are seeing the benefit of. When Hall is on that line, Nuge needs to be the defensive forward in the trio. Keep Poo on the 1st line!

  • Big red ginger snap

    For starter Hall – Roy – Yak.

    Both Hall and Yak like to shoot. Let Roy distribute the puck to these two shooters.
    Hall and Yak have speed to burn and can carry the puck into the zone, make a shot or a play. Roy is also niffty around the net, to pick up rebounds and back door shots.

    Note on the Bulletin Board to Hall and Yak-

  • S cottV

    Trade Hall.

    Only if we draft 1 or 2, and McDavid or Eichel can be that guy while Hall can fetch us the D-man and/or Goalie we so desperately need.

    If of course we don’t draft 1 or 2 there is no real way we can move Hall. Don’t get me wrong I know Hall is a talented player but guess what? He knows it too and growing up as an only child who has been the star on every team he has ever played for his ego/attitude is certainly a factor in how well he plays a “TEAM” game.

    I like Hall, but he is a bit selfish with the puck at times where he shouldn’t be and he has been oft injured in his young NHL career and his OHL career before that. How many more knee/shoulder/head injuries can the young man withstand?

    Just something to think about

    • CMG30

      The only way the Oilers could legitimately move Hall is if the return is in the range of someone like Weber. Such a scenario is extremely unlikely to happen.

      Besides, even if the Oilers draft McDavid or Eichel, they will be rookies. They will not be able to fill Hall’s skates for years.

      Finally, by moving their best forward the Oilers would push back the rebuild yet again, which they cannot afford. Especially if the return for Hall was a prime top-end defense man. Such a player would almost certainly be in or near UFA status and would not put up with more rebuilding nonsense before either demanding a trade or simply refusing to resign.

  • S cottV

    You put him right back on the first line.

    He is supposed to be a franchise player, so don’t screw with him,

    If it clicks thru the rest of the season – it tells you something.

    If it doesn’t – it tells you something different.

  • SSB1963

    Trading our best player when we don’t have to? I am old enough to remember that this team had no choice but trade our best players because of money and they were never more than a second tier NHL team based on what they could afford. MacT won’t trade these guys and that has been his boldest move.

  • El Pindo

    If Hall isn’t put on the top line i’ll assume he pouts, trips over his bottom lip and is back on the IR.

    We really don’t have anything to lose so I’d say 2nd or 3rd line. See no reason to split up the top line.

  • I think that whatever line you put Hall on becomes at least the 2nd line regardless if it is with Lander or Roy as a center. I personally would like to see Hall and Lander together because I think Lander has more offensive potential yet but Hall probably should play with Roy/Yakupov. Either way it bolsters the team immensely.

  • For people who are saying Hall is expendable, that Pouliot is demonstrating that we don’t need him, and that line of thinking, let me throw some numbers out.

    He is an elite play-maker and an elite point producer. And by elite, I mean at even-strength (5v5), based on a 4-year average (per 60 minutes), Hall is:

    -4th overall in primary assists (1.02/60),
    -3rd overall in assists (1.65/60), &
    -8th overall in points (2.48/60)

    Moreover, forwards tend to hit their prime in their mid to late 20s (24 to 28). Hall is 23! He’s probably going to get better!

    Who can the Oilers realistically expect in return that would compensate for losing one of the NHL’s best playmakers? Will any team give up their #1 (elite) defenseman for a winger? Will any team give up their #1 center? Their #1 goalie?

    Trading from our “core” could work, in theory, but trading Hall would be a monumental mistake. Not that the Oilers’ management haven’t made terrible mistakes in the past…

    Walter Foddis

    [At BeerLeagueHeroes, I blog about the Oilers using analytics, and about hockey analytics in general.]