Taylor Hall is and has been an incredible hockey player for the Edmonton Oilers

Taylor Hall

Taylor Hall is an awesome hockey player. He is indisputably one of the NHL’s top five left wings and for my money he’s top three, with only Jamie Benn and Alex Ovechkin slotting in ahead of him.

And yet it often feels like he’s overlooked. Overlooked by the league at large, which would rather give Ovechkin two All-Star berths than award Hall one or name Chris Kunitz to an Olympic team in his place. Yet those omissions are at least understandable to some degree; what’s really surprising is that sometimes he’s overlooked even in Edmonton, where his efforts should be most obvious.

Fifth in NHL Scoring

11.6.15 NHL scoring

It’s fun to compare Hall’s circumstances with those of the other players on this list.

Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn of course have each other; they play together at evens and on the power play and give every opposition defence pairing two terrifying talents to deal with at the same time. Generally they also play with Patrick Sharp, who is no slouch himself. Hall plays with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who is an excellent player but not nearly the dynamic talent that Seguin is, while right wing has been a revolving door with third- and fourth-line wingers cast in the slot at least as often as not this season.

Patrick Kane plays on the same team as Jonathan Toews, but it is Toews who is consistently hard-matched against the opposition’s best, meaning that Kane generally ends up facing the other coach’s second best defensive options on most nights. Some would say that Connor McDavid helps do the same for Hall, but they have it backward: It is Hall who takes the tough minutes, and McDavid who benefits from his long shadow. That’s going to change with time, but for now there’s no question that Hal’s line is the one doing the heavy lifting.

Blake Wheeler is a good player, but he also benefits from playing for a good team and this season from a shooting percentage that far eclipses his career average of 11.5 percent. Hall does not play for such a team, and unlike Wheeler his shooting percentage of 11.5 percent is basically spot-on with his career number of 11.1 percent.

With due respect to the four players in front of Hall on this list (all of them very good-to-great), none of them have to climb the mountain he’s clambering up every night. He doesn’t get the benefit of soft minutes, he doesn’t have a superstar helping to carry the load on his line, he doesn’t have a great team behind or around him—and on defence, in particular, that really matters—and yet there he is in the thick of the NHL scoring race.

This Isn’t New

4-Hall-21

Since 2012-13, Hall ranks fourth among NHL forwards in terms of five-on-five points per hour. Ahead of him on the list are Jamie Benn, Ryan Getzlaf and Sidney Crosby. Just behind him are Tyler Seguin and Evgeni Malkin and Patrick Kane and John Tavares and all the rest. In extremely difficult circumstances, he has proven himself to be an elite offensive weapon.

And it’s not just offence. It’s two-way play, too.

The Oilers have a 48.2 percent Corsi rating when Hall is on the ice. That falls to 44.4 percent without him. That’s a chasm, but the gap is even higher if we focus in on high-danger scoring chances. With Hall on the ice, the Oilers take 49 percent of all high-danger chances, with the opposition getting 51 percent; basically break-even on a team which is out-chanced 57-43 with Hall on the bench.

Hall’s frequently criticized for being undisciplined, but the only Oilers forward who has done a better job of drawing penalties than him over the span in question is Nail Yakupov (who is shockingly good at this, and doesn’t get credit for it, but that’s another piece).

He’s been a very, very good player for a long time now. It’s baffling to me when complaints about his attitude or his effort or even his skill rise, as they do all too often. It’s deeply surprising to me when I see his name casually floated in trade proposals, as though the Oilers would do just fine without him. Maybe it’s guilt by association; maybe being part of a bad team for so long has led to an erroneous belief that Hall is a key part of the badness.

He isn’t. He’s a very good left wing playing for a team which over his tenure has had deep problems in net, on defence and up front outside of its top line. He’s done all – more, really – than anyone could reasonably expect him to do.

  • Serious Gord

    So if he is the third best LW in the NHL, behind only Benn and Ovechkin, then he’s the second best Canadian LW. He should be on Team Canada then, shouldn’t he? A lock.

  • bazmagoo

    I find Hall to be a frustrating player to watch because he is a driver and he turns the puck over fairly often, but you really can’t argue with his results. My only real critique of Taylor is that he still puts himself in positions where he can get injured, a lot. He doesn’t need to win every puck, especially when he is out of position on the play. It’s admirable he still has the drive to battle, but it will inevitably lead to more injuries.

    • Bandwagon jumper

      This comment is bang on. No question that Hall brings a lot to the team but he does turn the puck over way too often. And I cringe with some of the hits he takes.

      • Dwayne Roloson 35

        What’s up with people thinking he’s been turning it over a lot? He’s currently tied for 159th place for giveaways with 7…Jamie Benn is 1st among forwards with 18 giveaways.

        Top players turn it over a lot because they have the puck on their stick a lot. Guys like Thornton, Kessel, Karlsson and Subban are near the top each year. Hall was 3rd in giveaways in the 13-14 season but he’s been solid this year.

      • bazmagoo

        Instead of trying to win a battle he is 99% likely to lose because the other player has body position, Hall should reset and try to make sure he’s in the dominant body position the next time the puck is nearby.

        Just to be clear though, in my opinion he’s one of the top 5 left wingers in the NHL. If he cleaned up the flaws in his game, he could be the best at that position in the near future..

    • NJ

      62 trashes on your comment. That tells me there are a lot of ignorant fans in Oiler nation. I agree with you 100%. He seems to lack team spirit, is way too pretty boyish with the puck. Tries to do it all himself and turns the puck over all the time. Then when he does turn the puck over, he expects others to get the puck for him. Him and Eberle need to learn how to play without the puck bottom line. I may get criticized for this and I don’t care but I want them both gone. Build the team around McDavid, RNH, Nurse and Reinhart

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Hall is the Craig Janney of the Oilers…. Good stats…. but sucks at every other aspect of the game.

    How many times has entered the offensive zone and thrown a wrist shot at the goalies crest and killed the play?

    How many times has he backed checked?

    How many times has he tried that weird clearing attempt where he tries to lift the puck out of the zone and it turns into a small chip shot that gets picked up at our blue line by the opposing defense?

    How many times has he scored on one on one with the goalie?

    I don’t think Hall has ever been used to any success in the shootout…

    Don’t get me wrong. Hall is good. He is a valuable part to the Oilers. He is better/more successful than Yakupov who was also a #1 overall.

    But he is not as valuable as RNH, Eberle…

    And McDavid who back checks, maintains control of the puck in the offensive zone, doesn’t just shoot into the goalies pads…etc…. has shown us what #1 overall should be…

    • Makaveli

      Hahahaha, that is just flat out stupidity. Your Ststements are all based on your own opinion and if you actually took the time to watch a game you would know how stupid you sound. Hes’ s fifth in the league in points right now, more than Stamkos, Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Toews, Tavares, Perry, Getzlaf…i could go on, but your just a dull tool that needs to sharpen up.

      PS. I believe last year Hall was given a penalty shot, motioned to the crowd to get up, then buried his chance.

    • Wow a Craig Janny reference…god god.

      To be honest all these players (our core) have been more or less frustrating to watch. I feel like there has been way too much focus from the fan base on each players form – I want function – meaning wins and playoff appearances.

      The core has so much talent it is mind boggling that we struggle year in and year out. I get it that the defense collectively has been weak over the past however many years and we have had equally weak goaltending over that same period.

      I think the jury is still out with Hall in terms of “greatness” he certainly has the skill set but until he develops an all around game he cannot be considered great. Which by the way is used way too easily these days to describe players.

      Hopefully Hall will lead them to the playoffs or become a key component to a deep run. Time is running out for the core before changes need to be made.

    • Kevwan

      “But he is not as valuable as RNH, Eberle…”

      whole smokes, buddy. do you understand the game of hockey? Neither Eberle and especially not RMH are even in Hall’s league.

      RNH is a solid, decent, OK 2C.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    When might we see Oilers go into a game without 5 players in the infirmary each game ? Rediculous how many injuries we continually pick up from game to game . Have to wonder who will get injured tonight . How can you build a team and chemistry with 25 % of your personnel on injury duty all the time ?

  • BlazingSaitls

    He’s pretty damn good now and I think he’ll get better at details with McLellan as coach over the years. I only get to see him on tv, and I’ve wondered if he needs a shorter stick. Seems like he carries the puck quite a ways from his body, which allows him to lose puck in tighter quarters, and his shot release seems a bit delayed. I could be wrong, but it just looks that way to me watching tv.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Be sure to send your post, Willis , to Don Maloney.
    This is the optimal time to trade Hall for OEL.
    Season is toast anyway with MacDavid hurt.
    Hall on an uptick this week. Go all in for the truly transformative trade for the Oilers.
    Now tell me if Arizona bites, you would be all in, right?

  • Spoils

    ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebsebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs ebs

    can’t wait to get ebs back.

  • Anton CP

    Hall plays hard: he is reckless and will get hurt!

    Hall plays lay back: he is soft and has no heart!

    Hall doesn’t score: he is useless, trade him now!

    Hall scores: he has value, trade him now!

    So many are hating Hall just because they are full of hate?

    • YFC Prez

      I’m very interested in a comparison of 2 stats.

      1 what is the percentage of lost possession when Hall carries the puck into the offensive zone.

      vs

      2 what is the rate of successful puck recovery after a dump and chase by the oilers.

      A lot of posters are infuriated when Hall skates in and loses the puck to a defender in the O zone. Yet no one seems to concerned about a lost possession when 90% of the rest on the team just dumps the puck and hopes for the best.

      I’ve always said Hall gets the play going in the right direction. This article just reinforces that.

      EDIT. sorry Anton. Not meant for you.

  • socaldave

    I’m not a Hall hater but I have been a Hall critic. His reckless, predictable rush around the boards has cost us more goals against than I care to remember, his lack of grit was also a worry, as is his habit of turning over the puck to the opposition continuously, but YES he is a great player, WHEN he THINKS. McLellan seems to have tapped into his psyche and hopefully has him on the right track. Another concern is the lack of charity appearances, apart from the Stollery I can’t recall off hand any other times he’s seen in the community. I may be wrong, but other players are much more highly visible at these events. I don’t want to trade/lose him but I’d like to see him trending in the right direction and losing his reckless style of play.

    On another note, am I the only one who hates Pronger with a passion? Seeing his smug face at the start of the Leafs’ game tonight turned my stomach. His sure did Edmonton a great deal of harm.

  • Anton CP

    Guess it is time to re-use this phrase again:

    To anyone who suggested of trading Hall, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having read it. I award you no cheers, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    • mr_nihilism

      Is it perfect?Not at all ,they are doing some nice things.Draisaitle will be worth a fortune before his contract is up,Nurse will be a star and a mean S.O.B. On top of that.Nilsson looks good!!!