- Dion Phaneuf – Is it Possible he’ll be an Oiler?
- Oilers Gameday – Vs. Flames
- Is Jake Gardiner A Fit In Edmonton?
- Loyalty Poll
- Oilers Gameday – Vs. Avalanche
- Taylor Hall – Breaking Bad?
- Disaster In The D-Zone
- Making The Grade…David Perron
- Making The Grade – Devan Dubnyk
- It’s All About the Benja…er…Bordens?
Why Taylor Hall Should Stay at Center
- Updated: October 4, 2013
Today during his media availability Head Coach Dallas Eakins announced that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would return to action this Monday in a game against the New Jersey Devils (I’ll be there). Monday is a far cry from the November we were all led by the organization to believe back when training camp started.
Even with the Nuge back the team is still missing #2 center Sam Gagner for at least a few more weeks, Having Hall as your first line center and RNH as your second is the best scenario to spread out the offence and ice the best team possible.
During our season prediction radio show I made the “Bold Prediction” that Taylor Hall would remain a center all season and possibly the rest of his career. Now I’ll go a little further in depth and have a look at why I think it makes sense for the team, at least for this season.
- Hall so far is 50% in the circle, I know it’s only 1 game but remember he played over 23 minutes and took the second most face offs 18 next to Boyd Gordon (26).
- He’s bigger that Gagner, for years people, including myself, have been saying that the Oilers need to get bigger down the middle. Hall (6’1” has 3 inches on Gagner).
- Hall’s probably the best skater on the team. He has the ability to be up and down the ice faster than most NHL players, his skating is elite. If Hall was to get caught deep in the offensive zone and find the play going the other way he has the ability to get back on defence quicker than most.
- Hall’s a perfectionist. It’s obvious when you watch him play. When Taylor was told to expect some time at center this season he focused on the idea, he practiced face offs, he studied the positioning. Taylor Hall is the type that wants to be the best at everything and he’s willing to give his all to do it. The kid doesn’t know how to do things any other way.
- Last but not least, it gives the team options. RNH as 1C Hall as 2C or vice versa, then you can have Boyd Gordon or Sam Gagner rotate 3C as the scenario requires.
Options are the key to this idea and there would be a ton of them for Dallas Eakins to set up his lines. The Oilers center depth issue would virtually disappear overnight. Let’s have a look at a few options;
Perron – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Joenssuu – Hall – Yakupov
Smyth – Gagner – Hemsky
Brown – Gordon – Gazdic
Ok so Smyth can move down to the third line and it appeases the “Gordon is a 4th line center” crown (I’m not one of them). Something that line up also does is provide the team with 3 scoring lines. There’s no better defense than a good offense and I think a line up like that is all about keeping the ice tilted in the right direction.
Now another option, one that I think would be a little more likely (you already know this but I’m no expert) would be to move Gagner to the wing. Of course he could fill in at center when needed but I think the role of winger may suit Gagner’s better than center.
Perron – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Joensuu – Hall – Hemsky
Gagner – Gordon – Yakupov
Smyth – Acton – Gazdic
So there you’ve again got 3 scoring lines but you also have a much more defensively responsible center in Gordon on the 3rd line playing more minutes and winning more face offs like he was brought in for, and Smyth I think makes a great addition to the 4th line which in the playoffs will be a huge asset for the team.
A few things to note with the line combinations, the 4th line is likely to see the most change as the Oilers have Eager, Jones, Hamilton and Lander all itching to get back in to the line-up and are likely to see time with the big club this year. And yes as it stands I think that newcomer Jesse Joensuu has what it takes to be a top six winger on this team.
Regardless this article is about Taylor Hall staying at center and why it makes sense, I’m very interested to know what others think, comment here or reach out to me on twitter @rustyknuckler
Thanks for Reading