God these are getting way dated, aren’t they. Fuck I’m old. Anyway…
Let’s not bury the lede here. The Oilers are absolute fucking morons for trading Taylor Hall. Since he came into the league in 2010, here are the left wings that have outscored him: Sedin, Ovechkin (who has played right wing a lot of that time), Zetterberg (who played center for a lot of that time), Benn, Marleau, Vanek, and Sharp (who also played center for part of that period. So that’s four surefire Hall of Famers, Benn who might have a case when all is said and done, the Hall of Very Good for Sharp, and somehow Vanek got in here. These players just don’t grow on fucking trees.
In terms of analytic numbers, Hall has been far above his teammates for the last five seasons, save one. In the lockout shortened year he carried the water over 8% higher than his teammates. He’s been over 3% better than his teammates twice, and was +0.86% last year as the Oilers began to maybe sort of figure things out.
Hall was hurt in that he spend most of his time with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who quite frankly has never proven that he’s ever going to be anything than a decen #2 center. When Hall played with him he basically carried him to a plus possession rate and a break even goal-percentage, even though the Oilers basically had rescue dogs playing in net for most of that time. When he didn’t play with Hall, RNH usually got his head kicked in possession-wise and his goal-percentage plummeted to 42.5%. And where is RNH’s 80-point season hiding? Hall has one, and has two or more other seasons where he approached a point-per-game. RNH has never come anywhere near that.
Also, the Oilers had a built in replacement at center for RNH in Leon Draisaitl (pssst.. who is better anyway). Now they have to play Draisaitl at wing to make up for the deficiency they had there, exacerbated by trading Hall. Good work here, and I don’t give a flying fornication what their record is at the moment.
Did we mention Hall is 24 and just about to enter his prime years?
We should also mention that Hall’s prime is probably going to go to waste in New Jersey. His center options there are Travis Zajac, who is somewhat unbelievably 31 now, and Adam Henrique. If there’s something to be encouraged by, Henrique’s best year was his rookie season when he was deployed between Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, and he hasn’t played with anyone near that quality since. Perhaps the real hope for the Devils is Pavel Zacha lives up to his first-round billing and figures it out in a hurry in Newark to pair with Hall. Obviously, these are somewhere between hail marys and screen passes on the hope scale.
The early signs are encouraging. Hall and Zajac have carried a 56 CF% so far, though only in about 30 minutes together. Hall is carrying a 69% scoring-chance percentage as well, while only getting about even in attempts overall. Because Hall creates chances with his speed and ability to allow defenders exactly no way of stopping him when he wants to get to the net. That scoring chance percentage is top-15 in the league so far.
The Oilers very well may get away with it all because McDavid is that good. Then again, when Lucic’s bones turn to dust and RNH continues to simply not impress, there may be only so much McJesus can do.