Like any rookie, 2010's top draft pick, Taylor Hall
, encountered a typically tough NHL debut. After recording a single assist in his first seven games, Hall struck for four points in a two-game span to close out October. From there, the young center showed flashes of brilliance, but it all ended on March 3rd, when a broken ankle sustained in a fight with Columbus' Derek Dorsett
ended Hall's rookie campaign with a month left in the season.
Hall addressed the ankle, among other topics, on Monday at a 3-on-3 tournament organized by Montreal Canadiens
' assistant coach Perry Pearn.
"My ankle healed up really well. It almost feels stronger than the other one, just because I worked on it so much," Hall told the Oilers' web site and other media Monday. "I haven't had any problems."
The ankle was a topic of conversation in North Edmonton on Monday, but it overshadowed what was an otherwise strong rookie season for the 19-year-old. Despite the injury, Hall led the Oilers in goals with 22 and finished just one point behind team leader Jordan Eberle
's 43 points. But Hall was thinking about more than just statistics in stating his goals and objectives for the 2011-12 season.
"Stats, you can only look so much into them, I think. If I start to worry about how many goals I have after ten games or how many points I have, that's going to take away from other parts of my game," said Hall. "There are a lot of guys on our team who are team-first and I hope I'm one of them. You just need to think about the team and how you're helping that."
While it didn't end the way he would have liked, Hall's shortened first NHL season afforded him a long and restful break for the first time in two years. Hall made it all the way to the Memorial Cup in each of his final two seasons with the Windsor Spitfires, claiming two titles as well as back-to-back Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophies as tournament MVP.
"I've trained for about three and a half months now and I think it's been good for me," said Hall. "I haven't had that kind of time to train in a long time, just because in Windsor we had long seasons."
The extra rest may help Hall this season, but the young pro made it clear that its NHL experience, first and foremost, that will improve his all-around game. It's just part of the reason Hall is looking forward to his sophomore season in Edmonton.
"I think you're just going to see improvements in parts of my game," said Hall. "I'm expecting to be a major contributor this year and to improve. Defensively, my plus-minus wasn't that great last year. I think just being more used to the systems and the way they play in the NHL is going to help a lot."