The Edmonton Oilers took the next step in Taylor Hall
's career Monday, signing the top selection in the 2010 Entry Draft to an entry level contract that may well lead him to a spot in the NHL as soon as this fall.
"I have the tenacity, I have the speed, I have the skill to do it," Hall told NHL.com when asked why he should be picked first. "If Edmonton feels I'm their guy, I'm going to try make that organization as best I can, try to help them from the shape they're in. If I'm not, I'm not going to be too depressed. It would be a great accomplishment to go No. 1. I think I've worked pretty hard for it.
"I think just having these young guys step in right from junior, I think it just shows the development in major junior hockey is pretty good, so hopefully I can step right in there and make an impact," Hall said prior to the Draft.
Hall is seen as one of the cornerstones in the Oilers' rebuilding efforts and scouts across the hockey universe say they would not be surprised to see Hall don an Oilers jersey for the 2010-11 NHL season.
"I like to think I'm a fast offensive player," Hall said. "I like to think I work hard and create a lot of offense for my team. If I had to say who I play like in the NHL, maybe Zach Parise, that skating style, a very good offensive player."
Hall was ranked No. 2 by NHL Central Scouting behind Tyler Seguin heading into the 2010 Draft, but the consensus was the Oilers would opt for the dynamic, talented Hall and Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini didn't disappoint, naming Hall the top selection in the Draft.
"We felt like with Taylor, if you look at his resume of playing with the best team and being the best player, back-to-back Memorial Cup MVP's, prominent in the World Junior tournament, prominent on his own team for his entire junior career," Tambellini told TSN after selecting Hall. "I haven't met a more competitive player than this young man."
What is Hall's game? Pretty impressive is the short answer. He scored 6 goals and 12 points in helping Canada win a silver medal at the World Junior Championship, piled up 106 points and a share of the OHL scoring title for Windsor during the 2009-10 season, and dominated the headlines as the first-ever two-time Memorial Cup MVP.
"Taylor is a dynamic skater who is fearless when he goes to the net," said Bob Boughner, the former NHL defenseman who coached the Spitfires. "He is very difficult to knock off the puck once he gets it and his hunger for the puck is special. He reminds me of Pavel Bure. Taylor’s desire to be the best is also very unique and has also contributed to his success, and made him the great player that he is."
And as Central Scouting Director E.J. McGuire pointed out, there is that winning resume.
"When you talk about Hall, you talk about quickness, acceleration and hands," McGuire said. "Easily and arguably, could have actually been our No. 1 pick overall. Taylor has done it all; he's the reigning MVP of the Memorial Cup tournament and has played on two medal-winning world championship teams."
Hall has one believer outside the Oilers in 2009 top pick John Tavares of the New York Islanders.
"He has that ability to raise his game when it matters most. He loves to score goals, he creates offense and he's a great skater," Tavares told NHL.com. "At this level, I think if you can really skate well and play the way he does with that great knack for the net, he's going to have a great career. He's a great player and deserves to be number one."
Tavares knows all about the pressure of being the No. 1 pick. "There's obviously a lot of expectations and a lot that comes with it, but guys like him have been trained for it," he said.
Author: Phil Coffey | NHL.com Sr. Editorial Director