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Photo Credit: Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

TOP 100 OILERS: TAYLOR HALL (28)

Back in the dark days of what seemed like a perpetual rebuild by the Edmonton Oilers, I always thought that it would be Taylor Hall leading the way when the team finally got as good as it is today. It would be Hall, a two-time Memorial Cup MVP, first overall draft pick in 2010 and a big enough deal the team pulled Kevin Lowe’s jersey out of mothballs and gave it to him, who would be the man.

Not so. Here we are seven years later with the Oilers at long last giving their fans something to yell about – other than profanities over another lost season — as they charge toward their first playoff spot in a decade, and it turns out that Hall was just a placeholder for Connor McDavid. Connor da man. Hall is still toiling with an also-ran, but he’s doing it half a continent and a conference away as a member of the New Jersey Devils.

Taylor Hall

Left Wing — shoots L

Born Nov 14 1991 — Calgary, ALTA

Height 6.01 — Weight 201 [185 cm/91 kg]

Drafted by Edmonton Oilers

Round 1 #1 overall 2010 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S%

ATOI

2010-11

19

EDM

65

22

20

42

-9

27

11.8

18:13

2011-12

20

EDM

61

27

26

53

-3

36

13.0

18:13

2012-13

21

EDM

45

16

34

50

5

33

10.4

18:37

2013-14

22

EDM

75

27

53

80

-15

44

10.8

20:01

2014-15

23

EDM

53

14

24

38

-1

40

8.9

19:13

2015-16

24

EDM

82

26

39

65

-4

54

9.1

19:12

2016-17

25

NJD

52

14

27

41

-8

20

8.1

19:34

6 yrs EDM

381

132

196

328

-27

234

10.6

18:58

1 yr NJD

52

14

27

41

-8

20

8.1

19:34

Career

433

146

223

369

-35

254

10.3

19:02

NOTABLE

So, how are we to assess Hall, who was considered by most as the Oilers best player for years on end before he was traded to New Jersey for Adam Larsson in deal that was characterized at the time – and still is in many corners — as a massive overpay? How do we perceive the best player on a bad team? Was Hall a me-first guy who never managed to elevate those around him or was he a victim of bad timing, a remarkable player who was surrounded by a team that just wasn’t good enough? A bit of both?

Those who never, ever were sold on Hall despite his undeniable talent and many memorable nights in Edmonton silks, no doubt lean toward the former. Some with reasonable arguments. Others much less reasonable – look, Hall left and boom, the Oilers are really good. I tend to side with the latter group. Hall did what we could, gave what he had. There were just too many other gaps in the line-up that Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan inherited for the start of the 2015-16 season, McDavid’s rookie campaign.

I, for one, would like to have seen what would have been possible with a little more overlap in the tenures of McDavid and Hall. Not necessarily as linemates, but as teammates. How would the Oilers look with Hall playing second fiddle to McDavid? It certainly, especially factoring in the emergence of Leon Draisaitl, would’ve given McLellan some dynamic options. Then again, there would be no Larsson. This team, with McDavid pushing for a scoring title, Cam Talbot chasing Grant Fuhr’s record for single season wins and tweaks throughout the line-up, is a different animal. This, we know.

THE STORY

Hall put it this way at the start of his first season with the Devils when he was asked about getting over the shock of being traded: “Yeah, in the sense that, in a breakup, you just try to forget about it as quick as you can, right? And that’s what I’m trying to do. It’s not easy . . . I’m not an 18-year-old kid that’s just being drafted to a team.

“A lot of the onus is on me to get in there and get used to things as quickly as possible. Certainly there are some guys on that team that have been around a long time, but I’ve played six years now, so I hope I can take on a bit of a leadership role and do my part there.” Hall is just now into his prime years as a player. His arrival in New Jersey hasn’t prompted any kind of bump in the standings for the Devils. At the same time, his departure from Edmonton has coincided with the Oilers finally getting off the floor.

For me, Hall is the most talented player the post-2006 Oilers have had outside of McDavid, and allowing that Draisaitl looks to be well on his way. In that regard, he is sort of the Doug Weight of his era – the best player on a team that didn’t win much of anything. Weight’s Oilers, at least, mixed in some memorable playoff moments. If Hall had been a member of this edition of the Oilers, a part of this return to contention outside of being the trade chip that landed Larsson, he’d be higher on this list already.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

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