In Hall We Trust

Source: EdmontonOilers.com

Source: EdmontonOilers.com

I can’t believe I have to write this.

Taylor Hall is one of the top players in the game today. Despite playing for one of the worst franchises in recent history, Hall has been a very productive player. He’s about to complete his fifth year in the NHL, playing for his fourth coach, and there appears to be some question about his value.

To judge a player, we can supplement what we see on the ice with both traditional stats as well as some of the more modern metrics (i.e., posession, scoring chances, etc).

From what I’ve seen, Hall is an absolute beast when it comes to attacking the opposing net. He’s very good along the boards, excellent at gaining the zone, not afraid to take a hit, and he can finish. Now for the numbers.

Overall

GP G A PTS PPG PPA SHG SHA GWG PIM SHOTS
2010-11
65
22
20
42
8
3
0
0
4
27
186
2011-12
61
27
26
53
13
8
0
0
7
36
207
2012-13
45
16
34
50
4
10
0
0
4
33
154
2013-14
75
27
53
80
7
10
0
1
1
44
250
2014-15
50
13
23
36
3
3
0
0
0
40
146
Total
296
105
156
261
35
0
16
180
943

Not bad right? 261 points is second only to Tyler Seguin (279 points) of the 2010 draft class, but keep in mind, Seguin has played 56 more games (Source: HockeyDB). In 2012/2013, he was ninth overall in scoring. In 2013/2014, he was sixth in total points, behind Crosby, Getzlaf, Giroux, Seguin and Perry.

Even Strength

The true value of a player is how well they do at even strength. Here’s a look at how he’s done, as well as the number of points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5.

Season
Games
Goals
Assists
Points
G/60
A/60
P/60 
TOI/Gm
2010-11
65 10 15 25 0.6 0.9 1.6 14.8
2011-12
61 13 18 31 0.9 1.2 2.1 14.4
2012-13
45 12 21 33 1.1 1.9 3.0 14.5
2013-14
75 16 37 53 0.8 1.9 2.8 15.2
2014-15
50 6 18 24 0.4 1.4 1.8 15.9
Total
296 57 109 166

In 2012-12, Hall was sixth in the league in points-per-60  (at even strength) behind guys like Crosby, Toews and Staal. In 2013-14, he was sixth again, behind guys like Getzlaf, Perry, Seguin and Benn. In terms of productivity at even strength, Hall is one of the best in the NHL.

You can also average his assists per 60 & points per 60 over 4 years (2011-15) to see that he’s the 4th best playmaker & 8th overall points producer in the NHL (thanks to Walter for finding that).

Advanced Stats

Since entering the league, Hall has been given a lot of offensive zone starts and has delivered. He regularly sees the top competition, but has managed to produce at a very decent clip. What we can also glean from his advanced stats is how vital Hall is to the Oilers success. For instance, the Oilers are more likely to have possession of the puck when Hall is on the ice. The team typically gets their decent share of shots and scoring chances when Hall is on the ice, and the team doesn’t do nearly as well when he’s on the bench. It should also be noted that Hall’s shooting percentage is usually pretty consistent, and its drop may be the reason why he has struggled this season. I think it’s safe to assume that shooting percentage will get back to normal very soon. I’ve included a full table of his stats in the Appendix.

Here’s a visual of Hall’s deployment and performance last season. You can see here, and in his other four seasons (Appendix below), that he gets a decent amount of offensive zone starts,faces tougher competition, and still manages to produce. (Source: Hockey Abstract’s Player Usage Charts)

Oilers 2013-2014

Trade Hall?

If the right player becomes available, every single player on this roster should be made available. The Oilers are clearly in need of a few defensemen, so it shouldn’t surprise us to hear trade rumors involving Hall. However, if there is any thought of moving Hall for any other reason (i.e., “character” issues, “winning culture”), then a few things need to be considered.

To move Hall, the Oilers would need a player that would take over the minutes from Hall AND produce at that clip. Unless a player coming back is someone that can crack the top 10 in points-per-60 at even strength, you’d be nuts suggesting Hall be moved. Benoit Pouliot has been a fantastic addition, but he would not be able to match any of Hall’s point totals. This roster is weak enough as it is, so moving away a legitimate NHL player, at a very cap friendly salary, is completely absurd.

I read a couple comments on Twitter questioning Hall’s ability to stay healthy. First of all, this is professional hockey. Crazy shit can happen in a split second when you’re cruising around the ice on sharp blades and taking regular contact. And we knew before the Oilers drafted Hall what kind of player he was going to be: hard skating, drives to the net, a bit wreckless, but effective at carrying the play in the right direction. If playing a little on the edge is what will keep Hall productive, then we have to live with it.

Final Thoughts

I will say that my perception of Hall changed this season, not because of his performance, but because of the emergence of RNH. Going into the season, I saw Hall as the face of the franchise; someone that would be captain in the next few years. Now, I still see Hall as a vital part of the club, but not nearly the same captain/franchise material as RNH. This might be a reason why others see Hall as expendable. Just a thought.

Also, the Edmonton Journal needs to stop with their ridiculous polls. It’s bad enough that a recent one found that people would trade Hall, but then they had to mention Hall’s twitter account when they tweeted their findings, just to make sure he knew how fans felt about him. Classy.

Being a top player, Hall will always have misinformation about him being published and spread. It’s always important to question the content, who is saying it, and the timing, Really, as long as the Oilers keep losing, the rumours will continue,..that’s just how it works. And let’s not twist Hall’s placement on the second line with Lander and MIller as some sort of demotion. That to me is a sign of depth, done in large part by the signing and performance of Pouliot.

Recommended Links

RE 14-15 Taylor Hall: Midnight Rider – Lowetide

Appendix

Below are his stats using the Hockey Abstract’s Player Usage Charts.

Oilers 2010-2011

Oilers 2011-2012

Oilers 2012-2013

Oilers 2013-2014

Advanced Stats Summary for Taylor Hall

Source: War on Ice

2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14

2014-15

Gm

65 61 45 75 50
G 10 13 12 16 6
A 15 18 21 37 18

P

25 31 33 53 24
TOI/Gm 14.8 14.4 14.5 15.2 15.9
PRODUCTIVITY

G/60

0.6 0.9 1.1 0.8 0.4

A/60

0.9 1.2 1.9 1.9 1.4
P/60 1.6 2.1 3 2.8 1.8
Penalties Drawn (Diff) 21 6 10 8 -4

PDO

99.5 100.6 100.7 100.7 100.4

PSh%

6.8 9 10.2 9.6 6.4
ZSO% 51.2 56.7 54 56.6 55.9
ZSO%Rel 2.1 9.4 9.2 17.4 9.1
POSSESSION, CHANCES, SHOTS

Scoring Chances For %

48.1 51.3 49.7 46.1 49.4

SCF% Rel

5.5 5.4 7.8 1.6 6.2
Corsi For % 48.8 52.3 50.4 44.4 51.1
CF% Rel 4.7 6.5 8.6 0.4 4.2
Shots For % 47.1 51.1 51.8 45.9 48.1
SF% Rel 2.5 5.4 10 2.2 1
Goals For % 45.7 52.6 53.8 47.8 49.2
GF% Rel 1.7 9.7 10.5 8.8 13.7

.

Thoughts on the Oilers: Culture, gossip and trade speculation

pimg003I’ve never understood the infatuation with having a “winning culture” in hockey, as if it’s something you can just instill in your club. Really, the only way to obtain the elusive “winning culture” is by, you guessed it, winning. Not by dumping players (i.e., Souray, Horcoff, Gilbert, etc), naming captains, replacing photos in the locker room, or coming up with team mottos.

But culture remains one of those topics that people tend to gossip about when a team isn’t performing. It’s a vague, subjective concept, that suddenly becomes the basis for trade rumors and speculation.

Of course, when your team is dead last, you can expect a jump in these kinds of topics like culture. Teams that struggle are discussed more (see Oilers, Edmonton). Fans have opinions, losing teams clearly need lots of help, so the discussion will naturally center around the culture of the team, why the team is bad and how to improve the team.

This leads us to the rumors about Taylor Hall being a problem in the Oilers locker room and how the Oilers might deal him. It’s frustrating to hear about as an Oilers fan, but the majority of us get the whole rumor cycle and how the machine works.

The source of the rumor is, of course, unnamed. Why would Dreger or any insider give that up and risk their relationships and lose out on future material? It’s his job to inform, but we know, or at least should know, that his messaging is influenced by his employer, team managers and of course player agents. These sources have their own interests and agendas that we know nothing about. Instead, we get tidbits here and there through hockey reporters and are left to discuss and spread the information across our networks.

If the Oilers had an interest in dealing Hall, why would they diminish his value by leaking that he might be “uncoachable”? Add to the fact that Hall has been very productive for the club, providing good value for a very reasonable contract, and you can begin to see where the holes are in this rumor.

It’s obvious that whoever leaked this to Dreger is either trying to motivate Hall, who is mired in a slump right now, or is just trying to get other general managers talking and releasing information on who they might be looking to offload in a trade.

One former Oilers GM put it best in 2000:

Glen Sather, general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, recognizes the value of rumours.

“It is part of selling the game,” he says. “I think rumours are good for the game because they create interest.”

“A player reads a rumour in the paper that he is going to be traded, so all of a sudden his game picks up,” he says.

Sather points to Vaclav Prospal of the Ottawa Senators as an example.

“He was brutal until the stories came out that he was going to be traded, and all of a sudden he is playing a lot better.” (National Post, January 2000)

Now of course, there is always the possibility that a  player gets dealt. The Oilers have a lot of holes to fill, and Hall could get you a decent return. I just don’t see how leaking negative information about your player to a reporter would help facilitate any trade process.

Related: Oil City Speculation (2009)