In the last several days, media reports (most recent: Bruce Garrioch) have the Oilers shying away from a major deal involving one of their major pieces at the deadline. As we’ve discussed in the past, the forensics department has me nervous about who they’re going to blame for the mess and target as the goat. Whatever else we know to be true, identifying Taylor Hall as the problem is absolutely insane.
Taylor Hall has been an extremely productive player since arriving from the Windsor Spitfires and as this chart (from hockey-reference) tells us there are only two players in the same age range who have delivered more per game since 2010. What’s more, through most of those seasons Hall has been pushing the river, a human chance machine, and his two teammates also reside on this list—credit for which, I think, should at least partly go to Hall.
I like looking at these numbers across seasons because if we add age (Hall should be entering his offensive prime) then several of the 2014-15 numbers are a concern. Specifically, his 5×5/60—that’s Hall’s strength, the thing that makes him golden—is at its lowest since he was a rookie. His shots-per-game is also down, but not so much we should run naked in the streets and his points-per-game is also down significantly.
Hall’s shooting percentage is part of it, he’s off by quite a bit (if he had last year’s shooting %, Hall would have two more goals this season). I also think, and mentioned in our last look, that the Oilers seem to be dumping and chasing more now than in previous times. I went back and watched the Montreal game from October 27 and saw more puck possession zone entry (although I didn’t count it) and a faster train in Hall.
Which brings us to injury. Hall missed several November games and by his own admission came back to soon. Let’s see what that looks like.
HALL PRE AND POST KNEE INJURY
- Boxcars before injury: 11gp, 6-4-10 (.909)
- Boxcars after injury: 30gp, 5-14-19 (.633)
- Shooting Percentage before injury: 16.67 (6 goals on 36 shots)
- Shooting Percentage after injury: 5.7 (5 goals on 87 shots)
We can see that post-injury Hall is a completely different player and that is absolutely impacting the team. Edmonton enjoyed a four game winning streak just before Hall went down and seemed to be finding the range a little (save the goalies).
- October 31 (night before injury) Won-Loss Recod: 4-5-1
- Since Injury: 8-21-8
- Last 11 games (Nelson solo coach): 11gp, 1-7-8 (.727)
- Previous games: 30gp, 10-11-21 (.700)
Not a big difference but that lack of goal scoring is a mighty big deal. Hall under Nelson solo has 28 shots—2.54 per game—and that is down from earlier in the season. His line is getting chances and appears to be heading in a good direction, but Hall’s shooting percentage under Nelson (1 goal on 28 shots, 3.57%) is very poor. History tells us that will change and with guys like Hall we usually see a turn about the time we notice the trend.
Like The Bible or my Dad’s ability to tune cars by ear (I swear he could) on that driveway in Whonnock, BC in 1965, forensics (to my knowledge) is open to interpretation. If the Oilers brass is looking at the numbers above during their forensics, surely they’ll come to the conclusion Taylor Hall is part of the solution and not the problem. Maybe they’ll conclude the organization’s antiquated approach to return from injury is a major problem and that will change.
I’m just not confident in the men handling these forensics. What would Bob Nicholson be looking for? Would he be as able as, say, Ken Holland or Craig Patrick to identify what best practices look like in a quality NHL organization?
HALL’S INJURY HISTORY
- March 5, 2011—suffers ankle injury and misses the remainder of the season.
- November 2011—left shoulder injury, misses 7 games.
- January 2012—head injury, misses two games.
- March 18, 2012—concussion, misses the remainder of the season.
- March 2013—hamstring injury, misses one game.
- November 2013—left knee injury, misses 7 games.
- November 3, 2014—sprained mcl (right knee), misses 6 games.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH TAYLOR HALL
Hall should be pushing to new heights, and this should be the No. 1 concern for the Edmonton Oilers. Their best offensive player, their chance machine, isn’t delivering at previous levels. He isn’t 40 (Hall just turned 23) and he should be posting better numbers this season. The rasons for the downturn:
- In early November, Hall suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Source
- He returned too early, by his own admission.
- I believe he is now wearing braces on both knees.
- The opposition SP is very good when he’s on the ice currently.
- Hall’s shooting percentage is below average
- 10% of his EV ice time this year was spent with Tyler Pitlick as his RW.
- By eye, he and his line seem to be dumping the puck in a significant amount this year.
I have a bad feeling the forensics are going to identify ‘culture’ and ‘effort’ and ‘chemistry’ and talk about ‘the room’ and ‘the makeup’ and that’s a very dangerous place for the Edmonton Oilers. I’ve said this before and will say it again: Don’t worry about Taylor Hall, he’ll be fine. If they trade him, Hall will flourish. If they keep him, he’ll flourish too.
Worry about the Edmonton Oilers. I very much fear nothing will be solved in this forensics review because they are (in the words of Indiana Jones) looking in the wrong place.