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?

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.

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.

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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  • Spoils

    McJesus with 115 pts in 45 games.

    Lottery less than a month away.

    Management needs to buckle down here and pile up the losses. Sit Hall, play Gordon’s line on the powerplay, and double shift Ference.

      • Draft Dodger

        I hope Lowetide reads this and stops championing Mitch Marner as BPA drafting at 3rd overall or worse. Oilers don’t need another Rob Schremp.

        Take Hanifin and worst case you end up with a Seth Jones style situation. I think Nashville’s pretty happy with how that’s turning out.

      • freelancer

        I would argue that Purcell has not been the catalyst for that lines production. Purcell has always been advertised as a decent guy who can keep up to more skilled guys. He himself does not drive the play. Hall does. The third line (Lander line) next season should be Lander-Purcell, and bring in a veteran guy who is a two way 15 goal scorer.

      • RomZ

        Adding Taylor Hall to the left side of the Roy/Yak should not be a detriment to the line. Sure that line has been producing, but Hall is the best player on the team. I’d say its a good problem to have. I think Hall will create more space for Roy, and Yak with his ability to back up defences.

  • MGD

    I don’t think it makes much sense playing Hall with Lander unless you’re planning on double-shifting Hall. Hall is the team’s best player and you don’t bury your best player on the 3rd (4th, in ice time) line.

    Putting Hall on a line with Roy & Yak gives Lander a real NHL winger in Purcel – sure Teddy is soft and cuddly, but at least he’s an actual player and may actually pot a goal or two after Lander does the heavy lifting in the corners unlike the current duo.

  • Kr55

    Hall, just like Nuge and Ebs need to be touching the puck a lot to be effective. That’s why there is very little overall gain if we put Hall back with Nuge/Ebs. Hall wants the puck all the time just like the other 2, so the more guys like that you add to a line the more your gains diminish. Nuge and Ebs need someone with a good shot, a nose for open ice and good defensive awareness on the left and we’ve found the perfect match with Pouliot.

    Hall needs to elevate the 2nd line. Hall/Roy/Yak should be put together and left for the rest of the year to see if chemistry can develop between Hall/Yak.

    • A rugged beard creates 100% more awesomeness. This awesomeness transcends the galaxy, to effect everything.

      14s beard is such a beard.They only come around once every 2 thousand years. Moses had such a beard. Jesus had a kick ass beard. Now one Jordan Eberle has found the power of the beard.

      From ancient scripture

      “One beard to rule them all,
      One beard to find them,
      One beard to bring them all,
      and in the darkness bind them.”

      Chuck Norris is jealous of Ebs epic beard right now.

  • CMG30

    The way Eberle is playing, his value is gonna be high this off season. Earlier in the season everyone was saying the Oilers should have traded him back in his rookie year where he was producing. This end of the year streak is showing he’s close to that rookie year potential.

    Let’s trade him this off season and not miss another chance to get super high value back for him.

    • freelancer

      Problem with this way of thinking is this: Who replaces him? Right now we are finally seeing two different top 6 lines producing. Yak has started to find his game again, and Nuge and Ebs are producing at a great rate. Unfortunately if you trade either player right now (let’s say for a top defenceman) you’ve suddenly lost your offensive production.

    • dougtheslug

      Good idea. Trade the only Oiler who is in the top thirty in NHL scoring. For what?

      Look at the the players above him on the scoring list. Why would any team be trading any of those players for Ebs? How would such a trade help this team? Unless you are suggesting trading Eberle for help on the third line. Which would be typical Oilers.

      What are you looking for in a trade? More draft picks to keep the infinibuild going? Dish off a 24 year entering the peak years of his career? Again, for what? MacT did that with Petry. Is the team better as a result?

      The Oilers are currently looking at being able to ice two competent lines next year for the first time in a long, long while.

      Now that Eberle is slowly thawing from the Eakins ice age, and starting to fulfill the promise of his first two years, why in God’s name would you trade him.

      Unless you are Klowe and MacT.

    • Jaxon

      That’s ridiculous. Eberle has 27 pts in his last 22 games since January 31st. You know who has more since then? Nobody, in the entire NHL. He has 20 assists in 22 games. 22 games isn’t exactly an insignificant sample. Best playmaker and best right winger in the game right now and you want to trade hime. You won’t get near his value coming the other way. Being the best in the NHL for assists and points over 22 games is no small feat. That’s a 75 assist pace, and without Hall. Crosby led the league in assists last year. You know how many assists Crosby had? 68 in 80 games followed by Thornton with 65 in 82 games. I know a big chunk of his points are coming from the Oilers hot powerplay. But so are Ovechkin’s and the powerplay is a huge part of the game so why exclude the value of those points. Jeebus, we like to shoot ourselves in the foot.

      • You’re making a good case to trade him, imo.

        No one is going to give the Oilers an elite defenceman. There aren’t going to be any available in free agency. An elite defenceman would help the development of the defencemen around him (Nurse, Klefbom, Jultz). Probably help whoever is in net next season. But to get a defenceman like that, you’re going to have to give up some talent. A defenceman is worth more than a winger.

        • If you want to trade one of the top 5 point producing RWs in the league for a defenceman, it has to be for one of the top 16 dmen in the league(IMO). Name one that is available in exchange for Ebs. I can’t think of one.

          Need to find a team in cap trouble, with a shortage of RW depth, and an overpaid too d man that they maybe want to move. Good luck.

  • Nivek Ewol

    Taylor hall has won two memorial cups, and clearly he knows A THING or two about winning. It’s only logical to force feed him 30 minutes right out of the gate. Yakupov needs to get pushed down the depth chart, he’s playing too Russianly.

  • nuge2drai

    Huh, I thought this really wouldn’t be much of a question given the success of the PP and how well the top line has been producing lately.

    However, it’s hard to remember but Pouliot also played really well on the Roy Yak line. But then went down to injury, so it was hard to get a real good sample size.

    Hall, Roy, Yak, would almost certainly have to draw the top defensive pair, so I wonder if that doesn’t stifle Yak a little bit, who seems suited to eat up second tier competition. But you are right that Yak plays well with Hall, and it always baffles me that previous coaches have not tried that combo out more often. Furthermore, that would probably have Yak’s Corsi heading in the right direction as Hall generally pushes the play in one direction.

    What I really thought was provoking was the idea of putting him with Lander. My only concern is that didn’t work at the end of last year, as Lander was getting some quality ice time and not doing much with it. Now that was of course under the old Eakins system and the old scared to make a mistake Lander, so maybe now that sorts itself out.

    Personally, I think Lander is making good hay with the third liners he has, and putting Hall with Roy and Yak gets Purcell back on the third line on his correct side, which was working well before the injuries.

    Anyway, looking forward to seeing Hall back in the lineup.

  • Big red ginger snap

    Play Hall with Yakupov and Roy. And if we’re down a goal in the final minutes of the game you put Hall up with RNH/Ebs.

    Problem is…. We needed wins in November.

    Thanks Eakins.