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PRINCIPE: Hall That and More

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
- Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club

When you don't watch someone play for months (I'm not including pre-season) you sometimes forget how good they are. It's maybe not forgetting but more like your mind needs a visual reminder. I received that Thursday night in Phoenix. Taylor Hall showed why he is a special player and a player who continues to trend upwards. It's early in the season but it doesn't look like the winger will need much time to get up to speed.

TOP 15 NHL SCORERS 2012-13 TO 2013-14
GP G A PTS PPG
Sidney Crosby 116 51 109 160 1.38
Ryan Getzlaf 121 46 90 136 1.12
Alex Ovechkin 126 83 52 135 1.07
Claude Giroux 130 41 93 134 1.03
Phil Kessel 130 57 75 132 1.02
Taylor Hall 120 43 87 130 1.08
Martin St. Louis 129 47 82 129 1.00
Nicklas Backstrom 130 26 101 127 0.98
Patrick Kane 116 52 72 124 1.07
Chris Kunitz 123 57 63 120 0.95
Jonathan Toews 123 51 65 116 0.94
John Tavares 107 52 61 113 1.06
Matt Duchene 118 40 73 113 0.96
Anze Kopitar 129 39 73 112 0.87
Blake Wheeler 130 47 63 110 0.85

It was his speed that he showed off in his set up of a Mark Arcobello goal. He also showed his hands on the play. As Sportsnet analyst Drew Remenda said, 'I thought he might have waited too long." Drew you, me and I think everyone, except for Taylor, felt about exactly the same way. It appeared that Taylor had run out of room and time. It turned out that neither were an issue and he saucered over a tape-to-tape pass. It might have been his most impressive play on the night and that's saying something considering he scored two goals.

The season is only four games in and Hall already has three goals. At that pace (I know, the season is one week old) he would score 60 goals (okay maybe 61). That seems like a tough task for anyone who plays in the league these days. That might be a tad high but half that should be almost easy for Hall to accomplish. In fact, I think 40 is what he will do. I'm not ruling out 50. This season might be early to make that prediction but by the time he's 25 (Hall will be 23 on Nov. 14), he'll be hovering in that elusive area.

I feel a little bad because I am superstitious and so I don't want to jinx the kid. However, he is doing everything that the Oilers envisioned he would when they chose Taylor over Tyler in the 2010 draft. He's had a pair of 27-goal seasons and he's finished in top 10 scoring the last two years. Add his point totals from the two seasons and he's sixth overall. The five ahead of him are Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Phil Kessel, Claude Giroux and Ryan Getzlaf. Incredible company for Hall to be in.

It has a lot to do with his talent but Hall shows heart. He competes. It's the only way his star-like skills could flourish. There's a lot that he was born with but what didn't come naturally, the kid from Kingston has worked on. I don't think he's a rah rah kind of guy. He said it himself when he was awarded a full-time 'A'. His leadership skills are by example and what an example he sets.

It is hard to tell what the high point will be with Taylor Hall's career. His health has been good (again, I'm not trying to jinx him) and his numbers have been even better. Hall could be -- and, in fact, is -- the kind of player you build your franchise around. He's got Hall that and more to offer up to the Edmonton Oilers. The secret is out because it's something the entire league is starting to find out.

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