Edmonton’s first ever first overall pick came into town
playing the role of the saviour without a supporting cast in place. Aside from
Jordan Eberle, there wasn’t a lot to work with moving forward from those early
days of the rebuild, evidenced by the fact that Hall and Eberle now stand as
the longest serving Oilers on the club.
The weight of expectation for a top pick in the draft is
something I will unquestionably never know, but I imagine it must have been
difficult. Difficult knowing as a teenager that the franchise was yours to run
with and where it went was going to be determined by how far you could go.
As a rule of thumb, all first overall picks go to bad teams.
However, none were more open about wanting to be bad as the Oilers were. It
wasn’t something the team apologized for and felt they needed to rectify. Being
bad was THE PLAN. Unfortunately for Taylor Hall, teams and their players are
judged on winning and losing.
Coles Notes: Winning teams are filled with winners. Losing
teams are filled with losers. Not a lot of grey area. Not a lot of nuance.
Poor Taylor Hall came to an Oilers team with no hope of
winning. As a quick example of the state of the team, eight of the 12 defensemen
Edmonton used in 2010-2011 aren’t playing in the NHL anymore. The bottom six forwards are pretty much in the same boat. Shocker: the team built to lose
actually lost a lot of games. Weird.
The Oilers were terrible. And, as it always goes, when teams
are bad their best players almost never get the respect they deserve. Edmonton
is bad, therefore, Taylor Hall must not be that good.
There has been a lot of digital ink spilled about Connor
McDavid and now Leon Draisaitl. Rightfully those two deserve it all. However,
the Oilers don’t belong to them. Taylor Hall still holds the keys to the
franchise. He never gave them up.
Katz and the Oiler brass tasked Hall with a job that he hasn’t
finished yet. They labelled him the face of the franchise and promised the
world that soon enough all the pain would be worth it.
Well it isn’t worth it yet. The team hasn’t won a damn thing,
and Taylor Hall knows that. And I don’t believe for a second that he’s going to
give up before this thing gets turned around.
Since he arrived here the Oilers have been a completely
different team with him on the ice compared to when he’s off it. He has driven
the play and picked up points, often with him as the catalyst.
Via @GmanBackpacker :
Oiler’s goal differential since they drafted Hall : -268
Hall’s +/- since he was drafted: -8
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) December 12, 2015
Somehow Taylor Hall has been a top 10 scorer twice in his
career and now well on pace for a third time, without ever receiving
the credit he’s due. Until very recently the Oilers have been a one line team.
All teams needed to do was stop Hall-RNH-Eberle and there was no threat of
This year, as McDavid, Pouliot, Yakupov, Eberle, and Schultz
all fell to injury for extended periods of time Hall once again put the team on
his back. Now older, stronger, and more mature he has pulled the team up from
the bottom of the standings up to a place where they might be able to compete
for a playoff spot.
This year the Oilers finally have scoring depth, but the
club needs to buy time for all of those players to return healthy. It’s Taylor
Hall buying that time.
Hall has 27 even strength points this year, tied for second
in the NHL.
He has 34 points total in 30 games, fourth in NHL
His 124 shots are the third most of any player in
the NHL this season so far.
The five game winning goals he’s scored are tied for the most
in the NHL this year.
Taylor Hall is one of the world’s most elite left wingers,
without a doubt. The only people left who don’t see that are the ones still
confusing the team’s record with Hall’s value.
One of the questions about Hall I was posed by a reader
recently was “What does Hall do better than anyone else?” I had to think about
it for a bit.
Steven Stamkos has his shot. Alex Ovechkin is probably the
greatest goal scorer of his generation. Some players are impossible to hit.
Others have unreal vision.
Taylor Hall gets hit. He is fast but not the fastest in the
NHL. Hall is an underrated playmaker. Number 4 can shoot but it isn’t his
greatest weapon. None of those things are his greatest weapon. None of those
things are what makes him special.
What makes Taylor Hall the player he is today is his drive.
It’s that motor that doesn’t quit. It’s that he skates full tilt into the wind,
into danger, and he does it knowing he’s going to make the play. When someone
asks me now what Taylor Hall does that others don’t, I can safely say that it’s
not what he does but rather what he doesn’t.
Taylor Hall doesn’t quit. It’s what made him the right
player to be the cornerstone of the franchise. It’s why when the team lost so
many to injury he put the club on his back. It’s why he’s once again Edmonton’s
leading scorer and it’s why before the next season has started there will be a
C sewn onto his sweater.
Taylor Hall is still the face of this franchise and his is the
beating heart of the Edmonton Oilers.
Taylor Hall hat tip to Draisaitl after the OT goal pic.twitter.com/LAobBTaBUT
— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 10, 2015