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Principe's Blog: Taylor-ed to Centre

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall's look at centre could potentially give the Oilers some new options up front. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
Wasn't it McDonald's who had the slogan 'Luvin It'? Well if you asked me what I think about Taylor Hall playing centre my answer would be I'm 'Luvin It'. What's not to love? I know this isn't exactly the greatest innovation since blue pills made old men feel young again but this isn't a hard pill to swallow for Taylor Hall to move from the wing and into the middle. Why not try it? Do the Oilers have anything to lose by putting the  'franchise' into a new position?

I understand this isn't totally new to the kid who has done it in minor hockey and if my memory serves me right said that he also played a few games with Windsor in the middle of the ice instead of along the sides. This makes all the sense in the world. When that Tyler-Taylor stuff was all the rage going into the draft the only reason it was had to do with positioning. The belief is that you build through the middle.  

Pittsburgh Crosby-Malkin. Detroit Datsyuk-Zetterberg. Chicago Toews-Kane (he does also spend time on the wing). But you get the hint here -- the last three Cup winners have had power in the pivot's role. That's why Seguin was even in the conversation. If he was a winger or Hall a natural closed.

Now we get to see if Hall can potentially play in the middle. I remember at rookie camp in Penticton when Hall was put in the middle of Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi. It was an opportunity to take some time from the present to look at a line for the future. His wingers now are the best two wingers the Oilers have in Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner. Talk about easing the kid into the centre's role.

Hemsky can help carry the load and the puck offensively while Penner can take faceoffs and if necessary help spell Hall in the middle of the Oilers defensive coverage with the centreman having more to do than the wingers.

With the Oilers looking like another lottery pick might end up at their table on the night of June 24th they have to be prepared. Hall has to be ready to play centre or wing or maybe both. Unless he can't do it -- which I'd have to see to believe -- this can only make the 19 year old a better version of himself by learning two roles. If Edmonton gets a centre this summer then back to the wing you go Taylor but if they should end up with another hot shot winger then maybe centre doesn't seem so far fetched for Hall.

As mentioned earlier this kid in my eyes is 'the franchise' or at least a franchise player so you're not going to disrespect him by flipping him back and forth every shift or every game but if there's anything to be gained by this then full steam ahead. It's an experiment that can be taken from the chalkboard and put on the ice because it's a no-lose proposition for the team and for Hall. If it works then maybe he could be a great two position player. if it doesn't he'll just have to settle for one day being a great winger and the centre of attention even if he doesn't play it.
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