October 19, 2010
The Edmonton Oilers have the only Taylor Hall argument that ultimately matter. Where once it seemed foregone the first overall pick would only be returning to Windsor for reunions of the 2009 and '10 Spitfires, the question has come back into the conversation.
Just something that pops up on a slow news day in a Canadian NHL market or a legitimate concern?
"In his NHL regular-season debut, he was creating chances, fuelling hope. Now there are suggestions from the a segment of fans that the 18-year-old may be better served returning to junior hockey with the Windsor Spitfires for another season.
"That's not likely to happen, said Oilers head coach Tom Renney, who figured Hall played his best game on Saturday against the Flames in Calgary.
" 'He's going to be here all year unless somebody tells me otherwise,” said Renney. 'That's a conversation you'd have down the road if, in fact, there was something that seems consistent in his game that really prevents him from moving forward. I'm not there.
" 'I think he'll just get better (and) that's an assimilation we're prepared to work with. And not just with him but others in our lineup in a year where we think we can afford to do that and, quite honestly, we need to.'
"While Hall has been impervious to the criticism, he's not jacked about his start, either. Four games into his NHL career, he has an assist, seven shots on net, and a directive to cut down on the length of his shifts." (Edmonton Journal)
You'll recall Tyler Dellow's arguments that Hall should be in junior, along with the notion of 19-year-old's no-man's land for players from the Canadian Hockey League. Carolina Hurricanes centre Jeff Skinner, the No. 7 overall pick from the Kitchener Rangers, also had a better statistical argument for making the direct leap to the NHL.
It is noteworthy how it has got turned around a bit since May. The popular thinking seemed to be that whoever was taken second between Hall and Tyler Seguin (getting getting fair-weather converage in Boston) would stand a better chance of extra seasoning in junior.
Of course, Edmonton would have to entertain it for it to become serious. Still, they have to be thinking of the broader picture.
"This is one aspect of the CBA that I do not like, but it is in Edmonton's best interest to not keep Taylor Hall in the NHL. There should be as little in the way of keeping the best possible players in the NHL. Should Taylor Hall be one, he should be in the league. At this point, it isn’t clear that he is an NHL calibre player and the Edmonton Oilers must make a decision in nine games (and they are nearly halfway there), given the CBA rules it is in their best interests to choose to send him to junior." (Kukla's Korner)
What about El Nino?
Meantime, decision time is fast approaching for another 2010 first-rounder, New York Islanders right wing Nino Niederreiter, who played in his sixth game Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs (14:58 in ice time, no points, one shot on goal).
Chris Botta has been adamant that El Nino should return to the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks.
"If the Islanders send Niederreiter back to the Western League, they could honestly boast about this not being 2008 anymore.
"Will they keep another teenager? Should they? For the record, my answers are a) I don’t know and b) No, they should not keep him." (Islanders Point Blank)
Tough choices. What happens this season will not be the end-all in whether Hall is a good pro, but everyone has a theory of what Edmonton should do in the next couple weeks.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Sports Canada. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.