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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

      • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • bleedingoil

    Jason, perhaps you are looking at peoples response in an all or none fashion as it relates to Hall and the Oilers.

    I think it is a fair comment that if this team wants any near term success new key players are needed. One very realistic method to obtain them is by trading from the core. Taylor Hall would provide a nice return. Perhaps the best of the core.

    Now can the Oilers live without Hall…they presently are. Add in the pieces he would return makes one wonder if they could be a better team with Hall’s trade return. That’s the way to look at better without Hall

    • Spoils

      This is exactly right. And I would also add that Hall appears to be at least a little bit injury prone. Some might say more than that. That makes keeping him a tremendous asset risk at a period in time that MacT has many holes to fill to even get them to a .500 team. No one should ever advocate to make a trade at all costs (Like MacT did with Perron. For what?), but: We can’t rely on draft and develop as the organization’s rife with ineptitude, we can’t attract free agent signings because of see above, and so our only options are trading to get better. If the trade makes sense.

    • Jason Gregor

      Can you show me an example of where a team traded the best player for other NHL player and got better?

      The theory is Hall will get a good return, but often all it means is you get a few B players for one A player.

      Unless a team is willing to trade a legit top pair defender or starting goalie, I don’t see it really helping.

      Oilers have won 5 of 20 games without Hall. I wouldn’t say they are living very well without him just yet.

      • bazmagoo

        The only player that makes any sense for the Oilers to trade Hall for is Oliver Ekman Larsson. Realistically we need a #1 and a #2 d-man plus a #1 goalie if we have any chance of making the playoffs next season.

        Might all come down to the lottery, if we draft #1, #2, #3 or #4. If we win McDavid, trade Hall imo. Poo’s play and chemistry with Nuge and Ebs makes Hall expendable if the return is a #1 d-man.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Taylor Hall should play with the opposing team’s players whenever he’s on the ice.

    There are many reasons for this:
    – Taylor Hall will be able to return this year, get in some good playing time, and prep himself for an offseason of training and world cup hockey.
    – the opposing team won’t hit him, thus reducing the chances that he will get hurt.
    – He will help us get McEichel.

    I really don’t think there’s a better place for him to play.

  • Obviously Hall makes Edmonton a better team. If management is hoping for a high pick in the draft , playing him is a mistake.

    Last couple of years the last few games Edmonton has won, and people said it is good for the team and good for next year. Well this is next year they are worse.

  • CaptainLander

    Pouliot Nuge Ebs

    Hall Roy Yak

    Purcell Lander Drai/Eichl/Macdavid

    Hendy Gordan Klink

    This is what I would like to see the 2015/2016 season look like to start.

    Then take What you have left in cap and add a real goalie and legitimate #1 d-man.

    Yes I know Drai/Eichl/Macdavid are centers but almost every other rookie super star center seems to start on the wing and down in the depth chart. See Stamkos, McKinnon etc You hope the following year they replace Roy.

  • 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.

  • Spoils

    I have this gut feeling that Hall will play GREAT with Lander. I also have a gut feeling that Yak will struggle a bit with Hall, because Roy and Purcell really give Yak room to fly off the handle.

    That might go in the other direction with hat trick yak coming back…

    here’s my vote:

    Pouliot – Nugey – Ebs
    Hall – Lander – Purcell
    Hamilton – Roy – YakCity
    Hendricks – Gordon – Col. Klink

    Not that we would want to, but we can’t bring neon leon up for a mini-run to end the season right? due to rookie rules right?

    Frankly I think Hall is going to rip it up wherever he lands. I just get the sense he is pent up and ready to blow.

  • Hall4Mayor

    The last place I would want to go if I were McDavid or Eichel would be Edmonton. They ruin young players. Given 9 years of the circus.

    Oilers are a bad organization and that translates to it’s players.

    • Spoils

      The problem is not the players. The players are just symptoms of the problem. The problem is an entrenched Oiler old boys establishment that keeps failing again and again and yet it keeps on applying the same failed solutions to problems. Players come and players go, but this Oiler establishment is forever and no matter how many times its remedies fail, it keeps on applying them without an ounce of self-reflection.

  • Draft Dodger

    Don’t get me wrong I love Hall the player and the only reason I would trade him is if I could improve the team,by making a real hockey trade.So I wonder if you could get McDonagh and Talbot from the Rangers might have to add a pick,would that not solve 2 problems

  • Spoils

    My opinion isn’t that Hall makes the Oilers worse. It’s that I doubt his return makes much of a difference.

    Better defense and goaltending would have a much more pronounced effect on the team’s fortunes than Taylor Hall returning to the lineup.

    We’re not uber-talented, but talented enough to compete in terms of forwards. It’s the back end where the team is really suffering.

  • I think Nelson should keep the top 6 as it is. Lander could learn a lot playing with a proven NHL winner and this could give him some experience for going into next year. The lineup should look like this:

    Pouliot – Nuge – Eberle
    Purcell – Roy – Yakupov
    Hall – Lander – Hamilton/Miller
    Hendricks – Gordon – Klinkhammer

    Three scoring lines, and of course the beloved Wagon Line.