|Taylor Hall will have a microscope on his play this year in Edmonton, but he's prepared to deal with the pressure.
It really is interesting to watch Hall at work and at play. It’s both that he does when he suits up for the Edmonton Oilers. His job is to play but it's a work in progress for the #1 pick. Adjusting to all that is so new.
Though the game is the same, everything else about it isn't. Imagine being 18 and being beamed into a new city, new league, and all you're expected to do is save a franchise or at least partially help save it.
It is interesting to watch Hall on the ice; a hard working kid who understands that, while his resume is full of success, he hasn't done anything yet in Edmonton. He listens to coaches and teammates, asks questions like he's still in high school and tries to jam it all in like he's prepping for a final exam.
Once he's done on the ice, off he goes to his crowded stall full of media who want to know anything and everything about Taylor. He politely obliges and will often do second and thirds for those with cameras and microphones. In fact on Friday after doing one scrum with the media, a one-on-one with a Calgary writer, then another one-on-one with Bob Stauffer for edmontonoilers.com, I went back to ask him a question off camera. He stood up ready to do another interview. It wasn't necessary but Hall’s proving he's trying to be a stand up guy.
Where that will eventually be determined is on the ice. What's a reasonable expectation for this kid? That is difficult to say but it really depends on how he handles the pressure and failure. I don't mean falling flat on his face failure, but after dominating the CHL with Windsor he won't be able to do that in the NHL with Edmonton. I believe if he can stay patient Hall has a real chance of being a rookie of the year candidate and even winning it.
With the recent influx of kids who have been top picks with high-end ability and have had success like Matt Duchene and John Tavares, there's nothing suggesting Hall can't do the same. When Sam Gagner
was an 18-year old he had 49 points. I think Hall, if Edmonton makes that commitment to play him win or lose, could be a 20-25 goal scorer and 55-60 point player.
If he puts up those kinds of numbers, year one for Taylor Hall
would be deemed a success and the start of a career that could go along way in turning around the fortunes of a franchise. On the ice it's hard to physically see his youth but see him in the room and you quickly realize that the Oilers, like every other NHL team, have made an investment in a teenager. Remember what you were doing when you were 18? Did you have any idea how good you could be at something…anything? Probably not and no one, not even Taylor, knows how good he'll end up being. He will be watched, assessed and criticized more than any other 2010 draft pick, but Hall he can do is his best.