Photo by Andy Devlin | Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club
Taylor Hall is an All-Star. That has a nice ring to it for the 24-year old-forward. Not surprising, considering heading into play on Wednesday he was tied for fifth in the NHL in points with 41. He was tied for 8th in the league in assists with 25. The numbers don't lie. Instead they tell you the truth about a young man who is growing into one of the game's best players and now he has the invitation to Nashville to prove it. While the Oilers finish up January 23rd vs. Nashville and don't play again until February 2nd vs. Columbus that isn't the case for Hall. While others will be off for some R and R Taylor will be immersed in C and W..as in Country and Western music, which he'll find in abundance while in Music City, U.S.A.
While this is a direct result of his play this season, being named to the All-Star game shows the growth that his game has displayed every single season he's been in the NHL. Hall just turned 24, but is already six seasons into his career. Every year has brought better production except for last season. I mean, he's twice been a top 10 scorer in his young career but for the first time ever the 2014-15 season was a step back. It was more organizational than individual, but Taylor's totals weren't up to the standard he set for himself. 38 points in 53 games(14 goals-24 assists) just wasn't what he was accustomed to achieving. Not happy and certainly not satisfied, he spent his off-season training and gaining momentum to start off a new year.
While physically Hall put himself in the right place, I think mentally he was also where he needed to be. That's because of what was happening with the Edmonton Oilers. A new GM, a new coach and a new life for the longest serving, along with Jordan Eberle, player on the Oilers. Despite his personal success of the past you could see the club's situation was wearing on him. Another year that was without playoff hope was a lot to handle. Throw in some early career injuries and the first ever first-overall pick in the history of the Oilers just wasn't having the kind of fun that should accompany life in the NHL.
The fun is back in his game and so are the stats. In 12 less games this season, compared to last, he already has more goals (16-14), assists (25-24) and points (41-38). Not to mention his +/- (+11/-1). Everything is better about Taylor Hall and it's nice to know that the NHL took notice and awarded him with a chance to hang out with the game’s best. Taylor Hall looks like someone on the verge of being a superstar. There aren't many of them in the league but that's what he's after. I think his time at the World Hockey Championships last spring not only helped him familiarize with McLellan but it gave him a close-up of Sidney Crosby. I saw them talking after Pittsburgh's November 6 game in Edmonton and I believe that time spent around Crosby served as an inspiration on what it takes to be a leader, a winner and an All-Star. While Sidney didn't get chosen Taylor did. Congratulations to the Edmonton Oilers H-All Star.