HALL C

It seems as though we’ve talked about this for a decade (which is impossible) but it looks like we’re finally going to see Taylor Hall as an Oiler center for an extended period.

  • Tom Renney, May 2012“I like him on the other end of the passes (as a left-winger), going hard to the net. You play him where he’s most effective, not the safest, but I wouldn’t rule anything out for this great young player. Yeah, I would try him at centre to give it a look, educate myself.”
  • Todd Nelson, December 2012: “ I talked to him at the start of the year and asked, ‘How do you feel about playing Centre, because everybody’s been asking that question.’ He told me, ‘I want to feel comfortable with my game. It’s been awhile since I’ve played, so right now I’d rather play wing.’ He’s up front and honest with us. We don’t want to put a player in a situation where they don’t feel comfortable. That’s not to say we can’t explore that as the season goes on, but we have quite a few centres and right now it’s not really a need that we have to look at.”

I’m fine with Hall at center, but do hope they plan to look at it long term if it works well. Perhaps move Sam Gagner to wing when Nuge is better and the C’s would be Hall-RNH-Gordon with wingers Perron-Eberle, Yakupov-Gagner, Omark-Hemsky and Smyth-Jones. Maybe Lander as the 4C, with an extra forward Mike Brown or Will Acton.

If Hall can play center, keep him there. Right? I don’t like the idea of moving him there as a temp. He’s the heart of the order. If you’re going to move him there, move him there.

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48 Responses to "HALL C"

  1. oliveoilers says:

    Doesn’t Perron occasionally sub as C?

  2. russ99 says:

    Maybe this whole Hall playing center thing is overblown – when really does a center stay in the middle? Most centers move around the offensive zone and enter the zone in different places so IMO it would be on faceoffs and in the defensive and sometimes neutral zones.

    As long as Hall can play center and still drive the puck down the boards (where he’s ridiculously effective), I don’t see him playing center as being a detriment to his game. Plus it can’t hurt to try.

    And if I can see that “EA Sports” line of Hemsky – Hall – Yak even just for a few shifts in preseason, I’d be a happy camper.

  3. Lowetide says:

    C’s job in the defensive zone have a lot more work down low, and are often the later out of their own zone.

  4. jdrevenge1 says:

    I wonder what sort of effect this will have on his potential spot with Team Canada.

  5. Lowetide says:

    jdrevenge1:
    I wonder what sort of effect this will have on his potential spot with Team Canada.

    I’m not sure it should be a consideration. Trying to dress up for Lindy Ruff doesn’t get W’s.

  6. VanOil says:

    If it works Hall at center would be great. If not he will still be great. If team Canada goes all ‘professional hockey writers’ and does not pick Hall they are as idiotic as ‘professional hockey writers’.

    Chip Kelly is a coaching god. Concession and beer sales will plummet in Philly there is no time to pee, but they will win a lot of games. Exciting like old Oilers hockey.

  7. spoiler says:

    LT,

    Just a heads up as I was caught unawares myself, but Monday Night Football started early today (doubleheader) and your Eagles look like they are using their good eye tonight.

  8. Lowetide says:

    This is the best 10-7 NFL game I’ve ever seen.

  9. jdrevenge1 says:

    Lowetide,

    True story. I know if I’m him it would be on mind as I try to focus on the season. I’m interested to see the result.

  10. spoiler says:

    If you were an opposing blueliner, would you be more anxious about Hall playing C and normally leaving his own zone as the last forward… or Hall playing wing and leaving his own zone first?

  11. Lowetide says:

    spOILer: He’s so good at exit and entry of zones. That’s a major item.

  12. godot10 says:

    I think it is a brilliant idea to turn a two-year old Secretariat into a ploughhorse.

    The only good that can come from this hopefully short-lived silliness is that Hall will be able to work on his defensive game, and learn just enough to make him an even better left winger later.

    Hemsky would be a better candidate to move to centre than Hall. Stick him between Perron and Yakupov and given them 60% o-zone starts.

  13. VanOil says:

    spoiler,

    Sather solved this problem with Gretzky by deploying an amazing Finn to take on the centers role in the D-zone. Where do we find the amazing Finn now? Or are Sikhs the new Finns? We are a few years away from finding that out unless DMW gaping whole theory is a valid representation of MacTs leadership.

  14. justDOit says:

    godot10,

    I get the feeling that saddling Hall with more defensive responsibilities isn’t the ideal role for him too, but I’m also very curious to see what he can do down the middle.

  15. Lois Lowe says:

    The biggest item for me is that Hall has explicitly stated his preference for the left side. While there may a short term fix available by having him move, he doesn’t want it to be permanent.

  16. Racki says:

    I’m interested to see how it works out. I am not sure about long term, but you just never know until he tries it (at the NHL level, anyways). I think his potential to play a solid defensive game is very much there. It’s obvious that he hasn’t really had to play very responsible defense though, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of it. His offensive game is likely going to suffer though, which, as we all know, can be crushing in this city where expectations are always through the roof. I just hope fans don’t turn on him if there’s a drop in production due to a new found commitment to D.

  17. Racki says:

    One thing I’ll say though is it’s probably overemphasized that his offense will drop going to C. Yah, it probably will because he’s not used to the position, but it’s not like there are no offensively talented centremen. There are a crap load of offensively talented centremen. Many who are also highly talented with carrying the puck up ice and creating chances.

  18. LostBoy says:

    Apologies if this has been mentioned before and OT, but since there’s a certain amount of wonder and angst about the departure of Visnovsky, here it is from one of Jim Matheson’s new posts:

    “Lowe stepped up the Oilers’ ladder in 2008 to bring in Steve Tambellini as the general manager. The feeling always was Tambellini did the day-to-day stuff, making calls to other GM’s job regarding player moves, but that Lowe always had the last say. I don’t think it was quite that way, but the story is Lowe nudged Tambellini to make the Lubomir Visnovsky for Ryan Whitney trade in March of 2010 when Tambellini wasn’t so sure, with Lowe citing Lubo’s older age and the fact he made considerably more than the Ducks’ Whitney.”

    I think the conventional wisdom is that Quinn made this happen, but if Matty says Lowe ultimately pulled the trigger, good enough for me. You can debate the wisdom of the trade at the time. I thought it was stupid, trading a genuinely special offensive defenseman for a pretty good one with some odd question marks. Doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things, but it’s interesting that it played out like this.

  19. Kris11 says:

    I was thinking about why I love Yak so much.

    Hall says something respectable: “Sure, I’ll play center, if the club needs me, but I am best at LW, and would prefer to play there long term, even though I did play there in junior.”

    Yakupov would say: “I have never played center, but I gonna be best center ever. Yeah, maybe it takes me a game or two, but Russians are more good at dealing with change. But Koreans are bad drivers.”

  20. Woodguy says:

    godot10,

    While I would much rather see Hall at wing so he can lead the break outs with speed and gain the ozone, this statement:

    I think it is a brilliant idea to turn a two-year old Secretariat into a ploughhorse.

    is ridiculous.

    Unless of course you consider the 12 centers who were in the top 20 in scoring last year “plough horses”

    Martin St Louis
    Steven Stamkos C
    Alex Ovechkin
    Sidney Crosby C
    Patrick Kane
    Eric Staal C
    Chris Kunitz
    Phil Kessel
    Taylor Hall
    Pavel Datsyuk C
    Ryan Getzlaf C
    Mike Ribeiro C
    Jonathan Toews C
    Claude Giroux C
    Henrik Zetterberg C
    Nicklas Backstrom C
    John Tavares C
    Jakub Voracek
    Andrew Ladd
    Henrik Sedin C

    Bunch of old nags there ready for the glue factory.

    I actually think that while his GFON/60 (goals for on ice) might drop a little, maybe his GAON/60 would drop more as he may gain possession of the puck in the d-zone more than the Oilers’ current C’s.

    A wise many once said that hockey is what you create minus what you leave.

  21. Lowetide says:

    Lost Boy: I heard the same story Matheson mentions in his story.

  22. Ribs says:

    Hall addressing moving to center TSN Video

  23. Ribs says:

    godot10: Hemsky would be a better candidate to move to centre than Hall. Stick him between Perron and Yakupov and given them 60% o-zone starts.

    Have you seen the blade on Hemsky’s stick? Hah. I can’t imagine him taking too many faceoffs and winning them.

  24. Woodguy says:

    Ribs: Have you seen the blade on Hemsky’s stick? Hah. I can’t imagine him taking too many faceoffs and winning them.

    Adam Oates had a very short skinny blade.

    Brian Sutherby was on Gregor’s show today telling stories, and Oate’s stick was one of them.

    Sutherby retired today.

    Told some interesting stories today, including that in hindsight he thinks he would have had a much better NHL career if WAS didn’t rush him to the NHL at 20 years old.

    Worth a listen.

  25. Ribs says:

    Woodguy,

    Come to think of it, moving Hemsky to center may make him indispensable. So I’m for it. May the shortblade rule the faceoff dots from here on!

  26. Lowetide says:

    Stan Mikita had the weirdest stick ever, sublime center.

  27. Racki says:

    Woodguy:

    While I would much rather see Hall at wing so he can lead the break outs with speed and gain the ozone, this statement:
    I think it is a brilliant idea to turn a two-year old Secretariat into a ploughhorse.

    is ridiculous.

    This is my thought too. While I think there will be a drop in points for Hall due to him learning the position, as I was saying earlier, it’s not as though there aren’t some phenomenal offensive players playing center in this league (and since the dawn of the NHL). Datsyuk is a special breed, of course, so maybe unfair to say this, but he’s been playing superbly at both ends of the rink for quite a long time now. So Hall’s offense isn’t guaranteed to suffer… at least long term. I’d love to see him give it a shot just to see what happens.

    It’s clear he isn’t going to like it, at first, but who knows.. after a good handful of games.. say 10 or so, he might start to feel comfortable there.

  28. Hammers says:

    It doesn’t hurt trying it in training camp . 4+ games gives an indication then another 4 or so reg season . If it’s that bad you change if not you have a very valuable player .

  29. wheatnoil says:

    Hall has become one of the best left wingers in the NHL. On one hand, I don’t think the Oilers should mess that up by putting him at centre if that diminishes his production.

    On the other hand, I’m not sure that there’s anything Hall CAN’T do. Push the river, one-shot scorer, respond when he’s cheap-shot, great at exiting the zone with possession, great at entering the zone with possession, cycle the puck in deep, break up on the cycle in the defensive zone. Last year he added a new playmaking edge to his game. He can hit. He comes back deep in his zone. He never gives up. He’s already, in my opinion, one of the dominant forces in the NHL today… I’m kind of curious as to whether he can be that dominant force at centre too.

    If you’ve got a guy that can take on the toughest competition and make them look silly… why not increase the challenge and see what you got?

    There’s two people I’m not comfortable betting against in the Oilers organization:
    1) Brandon Davidson
    2) Taylor Hall

  30. regwald says:

    wheatnoil:

    There’s two people I’m not comfortable betting against in the Oilers organization:
    1) Brandon Davidson
    2) Taylor Hall

    That should be 3 … you forgot Yak. He’s cut from the same cloth as Hall.

  31. Numenius says:

    I’d love to see Hall have a go at C.

    I wonder, though, how much that would affect his patented slipping past the defencemen on the rush, just missing getting hit into the boards, and then driving or passing to the net. No doubt he’d still do it, but it’d likely happen less often. He may of course make up for it in other areas.

  32. jp says:

    Start Hall out at C from the beginning of TC. Keep him there until Nuge returns. Re-evaluate.

    If he’s feeling more comfortable, still producing offense and showing signs of picking up the defensive side of the position, consider keeping him there. If not, move him back to the wing. If he’s a natural at C you’ve improved your team, if not you’ve got a guy who can play C in a pinch in the future.

    I can see the positives and negatives for Hall at either C or W, but I don’t see a big issue in trying him in the middle for a month to see how he looks/adjusts.

  33. Zipdot says:

    Kris11: Yakupov would say: “I have never played center, but I gonna be best center ever. Yeah, maybe it takes me a game or two, but Russians are more good at dealing with change. But Koreans are bad drivers.”

    More like, “I will follow my captain to the end of the earth. As centre, as winger, as goalie; I want to always be best. I love the Oilers. I love my Captain.”

  34. delooper says:

    A Hall, Yakupov and Hemsky line would be sweet to watch. They would give teams fits.

  35. Justthestatsman says:

    The best part about Hall at C is you can book him now for the year-end all-star team in TWO positions just to make up for the one he missed last year.

  36. Wolfie says:

    All this talk about Hall’s offensive numbers taking a dip because of his potential move to centre is preposterous. Sure he needs to be down low in support in the defensive zone but on structured breakouts it’s normally the C who wheels low and is the outlet for the guy on the wall. He’s already going full tilt when that return pass or chip off the boards is sent his way.

    Most of the top scorers in the league play centre. He needs the puck on his stick and if anything he’ll have it more with a move to the middle. It will also change his angle of attack and instead of cutting in off the wall at the opposing blue line you’ll see him drive wide on defenders. With his speed those defenders will either be backing off and giving him room or risk getting beat wide.

    Crosby, Malkin, Tavares etc… aren’t usually the last guys out of the zone. They are the guys leading the rush and controlling the play. I think that’s what you can expect from Hall at C.

  37. ohhell says:

    Just to be clear here:

    1. We are proposing to move Hall from his natural position to C even though he has stated that he has a clear preference for wing.

    2. To accommodate the longer term change, we move Gagner to right wing, thereby moving Yakupov back to left wing when he has clearly stated (and proved) that he prefers right wing.

    I would feel a whole lot better about this if Gagner was a LH Centre who could move to left wing.

  38. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Any capsperts out are welcome to explain how the Flyers are going to manage this without shuffling something around:

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=431528

    http://www.capgeek.com/flyers/

  39. delooper says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:
    Any capsperts out are welcome to explain how the Flyers are going to manage this without shuffling something around:

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=431528

    http://www.capgeek.com/flyers/

    The article mentions the official signing will be at the end of the month. Presumably this is to give them enough time to get their finances in order? I don’t remember the rules but my impression was teams are allowed short periods of time where they can break the cap, or something like that?

  40. till_horcoff_is_coach says:

    After horcoff’s surgery, he commented the faceoffs were hard on his shoulder. I think Hall is catching up on faceoffs and c responsibilities to take the draws for nuge and slip back to wing after pressure is relieved.

    Mact has championed the usefulness of players that can handle various responsibilities and this is the ideal time to train him up.

    Once nuge is healed, hall settles firmly back to LW to dominate like be does. I don’t see the downside to growing his repertoire while easing the return for the nuge.

  41. Hammers says:

    Since when is it wrong for players to be able to play more than 1 position . It just makes a team stronger . Look at Burns in SJ plays “D” & “W” and boy I wish we ha a “D” that could play wing . Point is this will be good for Hall & his career.

  42. striatic says:

    oliveoilers: Doesn’t Perron occasionally sub as C?

    you should check his career face-off percentage ; ]

  43. striatic says:

    Romulus Apotheosis: Any capsperts out are welcome to explain how the Flyers are going to manage this without shuffling something around:

    once Pronger goes on LTIR, he’ll be off the cap and they’ll have the space, but this isn’t something that can happen until the season starts.

    basically you can pretend Pronger doesn’t count against their cap and work out their real world cap space from there.

  44. Ivan says:

    jp,

    I totally agree with this- while you certainly don’t want to waste any games, I’m sure the Oiler brass has been wondering if Hall at centre would shine, and a short-term-no-obligation-just-helping-out-the-team experiment seems like a limited risk. And if it goes pffft, there’s lots of political cover, and at least we’ll all know!
    And I wouldn’t bet against him….

  45. russ99 says:

    LostBoy:
    Apologies if this has been mentioned before and OT, but since there’s a certain amount of wonder and angst about the departure of Visnovsky, here it is from one of Jim Matheson’s new posts:

    “Lowe stepped up the Oilers’ ladder in 2008 to bring in Steve Tambellini as the general manager. The feeling always was Tambellini did the day-to-day stuff, making calls to other GM’s job regarding player moves, but that Lowe always had the last say. I don’t think it was quite that way, but the story is Lowe nudged Tambellini to make the Lubomir Visnovsky for Ryan Whitney trade in March of 2010 when Tambellini wasn’t so sure, with Lowe citing Lubo’s older age and the fact he made considerably more than the Ducks’ Whitney.”

    I think the conventional wisdom is that Quinn made this happen, but if Matty says Lowe ultimately pulled the trigger, good enough for me.You can debate the wisdom of the trade at the time.I thought it was stupid, trading a genuinely special offensive defenseman for a pretty good one with some odd question marks.Doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things, but it’s interesting that it played out like this.

    Lol. If there are three words that describe Tambellini’s term as Oilers GM they would be “wasn’t so sure”.

    That whole Smithson trade sequence on Oil Change cemented the Mr. Dithers tag on Tambi once and for all.

  46. rickithebear says:

    These were free agent centers of note this year:
    game stast from 3 seasons:
    Player – Status – Cap – FO% – PPG – ESPPG – PPPG
    Grabo – UFA – 3.0M – 50.2% – 0.67 ppg – 0.48 ESppg – 0.14 PPPG
    Roy – UFA – 4M – 47.3% – 0.68 ppg – 0.45 ESppg – 0.22 PPppg
    Bozak – UFA – 4.2M – 53.3% – 0.54 ppg – 0.37 ESppg – 0 .17 PPppg
    Weiss -UFA – 4.9M – 53.2% – 0.68 ppg – 0.43 ESppg – 0.24 PPppg
    Kadri – RFA – X.XM – 42.4% -0.64 ppg – 0.53 ESppg – .11 PPppg
    Riberio – UFA – 5.5M – 44.2% – 0.90 ppg – 0.48 ESppg – 0.32 PPppg
    Gagner – rfa – 4.9M – 46.3% – 0.66 ppg – .46 ES ppg – 0.19 PPppg
    Gordon – UFA – 3.0M – 57.4% – .30 ppg – .25 ES ppg – 0.01 PPppg

    Wellwood – UFA – X.XM – 54.1 – .51 ppg – .42 ES ppg – 0.09 PPppg
    Wellwood has the 2nd best Fo% of the group.
    He generates ES points at a similiar pace to the 3M+ players.

    Well wood played
    2 years 08-10 in VCR
    1 year SJS 10-11
    2 years WPG 11-13
    He played 70min+ with 27 players.
    22 had better results with him than without.
    the other 5;
    Demitra (sedin, kesler, Sundin)
    Burrows (Sedin, Kesler)
    Hansen (kesler, Sedin)
    B. Little (kane, Ladd, Wheeler)
    Jokinen (iginla, tanguay, Stempniak)
    can be excused.

    One of the 22 was Ben Eager +.72GD/60
    Eager-Jones +1.44GD/60
    when I look at B. eagers 19 70+ players
    only two were better without him.
    Horcoff & J. Mayers
    I have no doubt the ath team saw this and is giving him life.

    XXX-Hall-Yak
    Perron-Gagner-Eberle
    Smyth-Gordon-Hemsky
    Eager-Wellwood-Jones

  47. OilClog says:

    rickithebear:
    These were free agent centers of note this year:
    game stast from 3 seasons:
    Player – Status – Cap – FO% – PPG – ESPPG – PPPG
    Grabo – UFA – 3.0M – 50.2% – 0.67 ppg – 0.48 ESppg – 0.14 PPPG
    Roy – UFA – 4M – 47.3% – 0.68 ppg – 0.45 ESppg – 0.22 PPppg
    Bozak – UFA – 4.2M – 53.3% – 0.54 ppg – 0.37 ESppg – 0 .17 PPppg
    Weiss -UFA – 4.9M – 53.2% – 0.68 ppg – 0.43 ESppg – 0.24 PPppg
    Kadri – RFA – X.XM – 42.4% -0.64 ppg – 0.53 ESppg – .11 PPppg
    Riberio – UFA – 5.5M – 44.2% – 0.90 ppg –0.48 ESppg – 0.32 PPppg
    Gagner – rfa – 4.9M – 46.3% – 0.66 ppg – .46 ES ppg – 0.19 PPppg
    Gordon – UFA – 3.0M – 57.4% – .30 ppg – .25 ES ppg – 0.01 PPppg

    Wellwood – UFA – X.XM – 54.1 – .51 ppg – .42 ES ppg – 0.09 PPppg
    Wellwood has the 2nd best Fo% of the group.
    He generates ES points at a similiar pace to the 3M+ players.

    Well wood played
    2 years 08-10 in VCR
    1 year SJS 10-11
    2 years WPG 11-13
    He played 70min+ with 27 players.
    22 had better results with him than without.
    the other 5;
    Demitra (sedin, kesler, Sundin)
    Burrows (Sedin, Kesler)
    Hansen (kesler, Sedin)
    B. Little (kane, Ladd, Wheeler)
    Jokinen (iginla, tanguay, Stempniak)
    can be excused.

    One of the 22 was Ben Eager +.72GD/60
    Eager-Jones +1.44GD/60
    when I look at B. eagers 19 70+ players
    only two were better without him.
    Horcoff & J. Mayers
    I have no doubt the ath team saw this and is giving him life.

    XXX-Hall-Yak
    Perron-Gagner-Eberle
    Smyth-Gordon-Hemsky
    Eager-Wellwood-Jones

    Nice post, one thing. Eakins = Fitness, Wellwood = Donuts. If Teddy was ran out of town for his belly..

  48. LMHF#1 says:

    Hemsky has played the center role in his own zone under multiple coaches now. He could easily do it. He should play C and get big-time PK duty this year.

    Hall can play C. It is not the massive undertaking some are making it to be…nor is wing the lunkhead position.

    Yakupov could probably play any position including goalie if you asked him to.

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