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Canada's Hall says WJC fun not pressure

by Adam Kimelman
SASKATOON, Sask. -- Taylor Hall is no stranger to pressure. Whether it's playing with the Windsor Spitfires in the Memorial Cup or playing on the grand stage of the World Junior Championship, nothing seems to get to Hall.

"I think to be totally honest, it's been a lot of fun for me," Hall said following his two-goal performance against Switzerland in the WJC semifinal Sunday.

He's certainly made things fun for his teammates as they go for a record sixth straight gold medal Tuesday against the U.S. (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

The projected top pick of the 2010 Entry Draft is tied for second on the team with five goals and he's tied for third with nine points.

"He always is a threat," said Canada coach Willie Desjardins. "He has a real desire to be a real key player. He doesn't want to just go on the ice and compete -- he wants to be a factor. He plays hard every shift. I think he's given us a lot, not just offensively but defensively he's worked hard, as well. He's been a good player for us."

Hall has been playing on a line with Windsor teammate Greg Nemisz and London Knights center Nazem Kadri. The London-Windsor rivalry is one of the biggest in the Ontario Hockey League, but that hasn't stopped Kadri from being impressed by his linemate.

"We had some early chemistry," Kadri told "We both kind of offensively are on the same page, so it's been working pretty well for us."

Things have been going exceptionally well for Hall. When he left for the WJC his 26 goals and 59 points in 34 games led the league. That comes on the heels of him finishing sixth in the OHL in scoring last season with 90 points, leading the league in the playoffs with 16 goals and 36 points, and then winning the MVP at the Memorial Cup, when he had two goals and eight points in six games to lead Windsor to the title.

He entered this season as the top player to watch heading into the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and, despite being ranked second to Plymouth Tyler Seguin -- the
current OHL scoring leader -- among OHL skaters by NHL Central Scouting in its preliminary rankings, NHL talent evaluators envision him being the best player available for the June selection process.

"He's a brilliant skater, fast skater, a scorer -- he does it all," Central Scouting Director E.J. McGuire told

"This guy is a high-end prospect, there's no two ways about it," added Central Scouting's Chris Edwards. "Puck skills, skating -- there's really nothing you don't like about the guy."

Being the only draft-eligible player on Canada's roster says a lot about his skill level. His every move already was being dissected, but the spotlight's glow is even brighter in a situation like the World Juniors. Still, Hall says he's not affected by the pressure.

"I'm not really thinking about the scouts," said Hall. "I'm playing for Team Canada and my ultimate goal is to win a gold medal. I think if I do that and I'm doing all the right things and contributing, scouts will take that into factor."

Contact Adam Kimelman at

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