I know a lot of people who felt strongly about the Hall-Seguin selection. Fully half of them felt Seguin was the better plan. I’m not saying those folks are hard to find these days or that the debate is over (this will go on until one of them falters, if they ever do), but the Taylor Hall brigade have some things to brag about these days.
Hall is getting scoring chances (lordy is he getting chances) and he’s helping way more than an average 19-year old rookie.
Using Dennis King’s scoring chances as our measuring stick, the kid Hall is still having an impact since the Horcoff injury (24-27 in SC’s at EVs) although not at previous levels. The Toronto game (and a few others before) tell us that the opposition has taken notice and that Hall and the other kids will be taking several lumps between now and the end of the season.
Which brings us to Steve MacIntyre, JF Jacques, Zack Stortini and the rest. The city is up in arms currently because Hall got a facewash from Phaneuf. I think we sometimes forget these things, but since early days (to borrow a line from Spinal Tip “hundreds of years before the dawn of history”) enforcers are not effective unless they’re on the ice with the skill player a team hopes to protect. We see this in history (John Ferguson played LW with Beliveau, Bossy ran with Trottier and Gillies) and the Oilers will need to do the same. In this way, Pat “hey, JF Jacques you’re on the first line” Quinn was attempting to address the problem.
Tonight, when the Oilers send Gagner, Hall and Eberle out against some ruffian from the heart of America, imagine a big, skilled, grumpy winger from the Clark Gillies tree playing on that line. Yes, the Oilers need a big center and they need a #1D (whatever that is) but they also need players with size who can actually play the game.
From the Brad Winchester selection through Zack Stortini and beyond, the Oilers drafted Coke Machines in hopes they’d turn into actual players. Stu MacGregor is drafting kids with skill and size in hopes of grabbing a top 6F talent who can impact the physical part of the game while playing important minutes. It’s a better plan, but these growing pains are going to continue until someone with size, skill and a mean streak graduates to the show.
I think we should also be prepared for Taylor Hall to eventually take matters into his own hands. I think he’s the kind of kid who’ll only take so much from the opponent before he does a face wash of his own. The kid’s a dandy, and he’s almost grown.