Hall of a thing

Jonathan Willis
April 10 2013 09:39AM

Taylor Hall has hit a totally different level this season. The Edmonton Oilers are one team with him on the ice, they’re a completely different team when he’s sitting on the bench.

The Chart

The chart above lays out the numbers behind Hall’s performance, and shows the wide gap between the Oilers with him on and off the ice. The dark blue line represents Hall, and hovers around the 55% mark – meaning that 55% of all even-strength scoring chances with Hall on the ice are going the Oilers’ way. That might not sound impressive, but the Canucks won the Presidents’ Trophy last year scoring only 54% of the even-strength goals in their games. It’s an outstanding clip.

This is particularly true when compared to the rest of the Oilers’ roster. The Oilers, needless to say, are not the 2011-12 Vancouver Canucks at even-strength. They’re hanging around the 40% mark on the season (counting only games Hall has played in), meaning the rest of the lineup generates two scoring chances to every three for the opposition.

Hall’s line has been especially good over the last eight games. With him on the ice at even-strength, the Oilers have out-chanced the opposition 53-28 over that span; with anyone else on the ice they’ve been out-chanced 76-50. Anybody watching the games has seen a dominant performance; the numbers just show how dominant he’s been.

He’s the first first

The player Taylor Hall is at 21 is something very special, and as the oldest of the group of first overall draft picks it shouldn’t be a surprise that he was the first one to really have a breakthrough campaign. The best news for the Oilers is that there’s more to come. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins turns 20 this week; he’s already an exceptional player (and better this year than last, despite the superficial drop in points) and there’s good reason to think more is on the way. Nail Yakupov won’t turn 20 until October, and he’s just a hair shy of Hall’s scoring pace as a rookie despite being more of a raw player than Hall was as at the same point in his career. It’s probably fair to say we haven’t even scratched the surface of what he will be capable of doing in his prime.

There are things to worry about with this team. Hall isn’t one of them. And while each of these first overall picks is a unique player with his own set of skills – nobody knows at this juncture which one will end up as the best of the lot – in my books it would be nuts to move any of them without first finding out just how good they can be.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.