Going into this season, Taylor Hall had an ADP of 129 which translates to the 12th-13th round in standard, 12-team Yahoo! leagues. He just barely made it into the top 25 left wings, meaning if you took Hall that late he likely has a cozy spot on your bench to start the year. Keep in mind this is in standard leagues where the owner only gets one year with the team.
In other words owners had faith, maybe too much faith, in Hall.
At this point we already knew that the young winger would be playing his first NHL game this season and it would be for the worst team in hockey last year, the Edmonton Oilers. The kid would be a rookie, who was liable to make mistakes and catch up to NHL tempo. We also know his plus/minus would likely be poor and he would have trouble with finding the right linemates.
For all the improvements the Oilers were able to make in the offseason they still employ Nikolai Khabibulin as their starting goalie and are tied with the New Jersey Devils for 29th in the League. In other words, the Oilers are bad.
However, with Hall they are improved. Last night, the recently turned 19-year-old scored the game winning goal and assisted on another to lead the Oilers to victory– a win the team would not have had without him. He makes the team better with his goal scoring presence, there should be no doubts about it.
Is he turning the corner finally? Probably not but his current stats really aren’t anything to snicker at.
If you stretch out Hall’s line through his first 21 NHL games, he is on pace for 20 goals and 23 assists; not bad for a player who started their career as an 18-year-old. Delving a bit deeper into the subject, that would put him 18th all-time in points for that age, behind Steven Stamkos who had 46 as a rookie. Not that Hall will be Stamkos in two years, but would that really be too far of a stretch?
Right now our stats projections are simply based on Hall actually not turning the corner yet. In his rookie year, Stamkos had two point scoring streaks, one of six games and another at four. John Tavares had two sets of four game streaks and a five game streak. These type of high-end forwards tend to go on scoring binges regardless of their rookie status, which is typically why they are first overall picks. Scouting is that good so we can trust in no Patrick Stefan or Alexandre Daigle situations here.
Hall has won at every level of his career and should bring that style to a lowly Oilers team. The youngster won back-to-back Memorial Cups with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL which is no short feat of his own, showing the tools to succeed.
If you feel that the Oilers will remain terrible, you likely thought the same of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Chicago Blackhawks or Pittsburgh Penguins who all won Stanley Cups on the strength of their first overall picks. Having Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi already one the roster shows it is just a matter of time before the team improves. Khabibulin still has three more years on his contract but the team has shown life behind Martin Gerber and Devan Dubnyk which means these problems now likely will be corrected as the team builds itself out and establishes an identity down the road.
So in summary, when looking at our current keeper rankings, you can see Hall on the list and snicker. You can also look at your current keeper league and ask yourself if you would like Rick Nash or Dany Heatley on your team, because waiting for this youngster could net you just that in a year or two. In my opinion, that is simply not a player I am willing not to gamble on.