Fifty-three assists in one season is a lot. NHL wingers don’t reach that total a lot—Hall was No. 1 among all wingers last season (and No. 8 overall). Even better, Hall at even strength delivered 42 assists—second in the NHL to Joe Thornton. His 62 EV points ranked him fourth in the league in total points, and his 20 EV goals had him tied for No. 25 overall in 2013-14.
At this point in his career Taylor Hall is miles better than his team. He posted 80 points on a team that scored 199 goals—the heart of the order is Hall and his line, plus Perron. In a recent interview with Jim Matheson, the talented young winger talked about the season ahead:
- “There are teams built the way we are, and they have success. The Rangers were a fast team that had trouble with their identity at the start of the year and figured it out over the course of the season. They were a fun team to watch. They’re not big, but they play with the puck and they’re fast. That’s how we have to be. We’re not going to bully teams out of their arena, but what we can do and what we can grow into is a possession team … a team that’s hard to knock off pucks and battles the way the big teams do.”
This dovetails nicely with something Tyler Dellow wrote on his blog before it went dark (actually, it went white):
- Dellow: What does this all tell us? I see three issues. First, the Oilers have become much more likely to dump pucks into the offensive zone with Hall on the ice at 5v5. Second, (in this sample at least but keep in mind that it was picked because it was pretty representative of the whole), they suck at retrieving those pucks. Third, they’ve gotten worse at generating shot attempts when they do carry the puck into the offensive zone.
In unrelated news, the Edmonton Oilers hired Tyler Dellow this summer.
The Tyson Barrie contract exposes the Justin Schultz deal. By my count, the Oilers overpaid by about $1.5 million on their contract, and that’s insane. The one thing no one has absolutely confirmed to me is that Justin Schultz as an RFA is identical to Barrie. DOES the fact that Schultz was signed originally as a UFA unhook the Oilers from the pay grade of a drafted player who went the more traditional route? I don’t have that answer, but can say if in fact the Oilers paid this much more than market we should be genuinely afraid of the Schultz long term deal. $5.5 million a year? $6 million? Whatever scale Edmonton’s on, it’s off the grid.
The good thing (in my mind) about the deal? It’s one year. Justin Schultz may not be able to play defense capably, and a five-year deal with a one dimensional albatross is exactly a must to avoid. Again, it rings true: Oilers management’s take on this player is wildly out of sync with the evidence, and this season—in a year when chaos should occur less often—perhaps the faults of this player will be more pronounced. Or he turns a corner. The evidence so far isn’t there.
The Young Stars tournament in Penticton is just around the corner, I’ll have reports from BC during the Lowdown as the event rolls along. Last year, Kevin McCartney did an outstanding job for the Nations Network (example: here) and I wanted to post a couple of his comments as a reminder of just how much can change in one year.
- #74 Darnell Nurse: A mixed bag. Again showed his puck skills and skating to be in the plus to elite range for this tournament. I keep hearing people say Nurse looked more comfortable, but I didn’t see that. High-event and as things started to get away from him, pressed harder and tried to do everyone’s jobs. An individualistic effort. Great range, large frame, and carried well throughout. Supported Marco Roy through neutral zone on a rush in the 2nd before slicing ahead into the zone as lead attacker. Looked like a defenceman when he arrived at the net – no planned move for that moment. Wants to make everything happen immediately, and shows visceral decision making at times. His anticipation and pattern recognition are strong, as shown by his purposeful rushes and good rotation in the offensive end. I think he just lost patience without the puck. He’s 18 and has a lot of tools to choose from.
- #42 Marco Roy: Got better with every game, and showed himself to be among the tournament’s top 12 or 15 forwards with this game. They gave him 5 shots for a conservative estimate of 13 on the tournament. Had a nice tip on a Nurse shot. His goal featured great passing by Betker to move the puck into the offensive zone, but also a terrific play by Roy to cut open the Canucks’ defence and attack the net before attacking a second time from behind the net. Constantly a threat with the puck in this game, his best skill is actually his puck support. Finds space extremely well, threatens from all over the offensive zone, and his two-way play is the best among Oiler forwards if you ignore his first game. He and Musil the best neutral zone players in the game.
If you’re looking for a reminder of events last summer at the Young Stars, that McCartney link is a must click. Hopefully we’ll be discussing the rookie roster later today.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
Friday!!! We hit the air at 10 this morning, TSN 1260. Steve Lansky from Big Mouth Sports kicks things off, and then we roll into Tour of Alberta talk and Jeff Hauser caps off the hour with an NFL weekend preview. In hour two, Alan Hull will be by to talk about the Justin Schultz contract and the show will end on a high note when Paul Almeida comes on to disagree with everything I say! We’ll also preview Saturday Sports Extra for tomorrow, Paul is back after a summer in Europe with the idle rich.
10-1260 on text, @Lowetide_ on twitter. Tune in, it’s going to be a blast!