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Rant Sports Top 100 Players in the NHL: No. 75 Taylor Hall

Bruce Fedyck-US PRESSWIRE

Taylor Hall had a rollercoaster ride of a season in his sophomore campaign with the Edmonton Oilers. On one hand, he put together the second hat trick of his still young career, put up 27 goals and added 26 assists, was second on the team in goals and second for points overall. On the other hand, he was plagued by injuries, including a freak accident with a skate blade during warmups that required 30 stitches and gave him a pronounced black eye. His season ended early, too, after it was announced that he needed to undergo shoulder surgery that would take five to six months of healing time.

The black eye Hall got as a result of his skate blade accident is visible here. Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE

Hall’s NHL career began with a bang: after months of speculation as to which OHL star would go first in the 2010 NHL draft–he or Tyler Seguin–Hall was picked first in Los Angeles. This followed a successful career in the OHL where he led the team in goals during his first year with the Windsor Spitfires, won OHL and CHL Rookie of the Year, won the OHL Championship and Memorial Cup in his second season, picked up the Memorial Cup and Playoffs MVP awards, led the entire OHL in points in his third year (tied with Seguin) and capped it off by winning the Memorial Cup for the second year in a row. The Memorial Cup is often considered the hardest trophy to win in sports because players can only play for a limited time before they age out of the junior leagues–Hall did it twice.

The Oilers signed Hall not long after he was drafted, awarding him the biggest rookie contract in Edmonton history. He got his first assist and point in his debut month, October 2010. He participated in the 2011 All-Star Game festivities and came in second to Michael Grabner for fastest skater. Plus, his first season included his first hat trick and Gordie Howe hat trick, the Howe hatty coming a month after the natural hatty. However, the fight he was in for one-third of his Howe hat trick did him more harm than good: he suffered a high ankle sprain that stopped his rookie year at 65 games.

So, over two years in the NHL, he’s yet to play an entire full season without injuries, but the Oilers still have faith in him: they signed him to a seven-year contract extension in August 2012. Interestingly, his agent is another man who once wore the number four: Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins legend, although Orr played defense while Hall is a left wing.

Considering that Hall’s fellow young colleagues Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle were also some of Edmonton’s biggest producers this last season, it’s wise for the team to keep them together so they can continue growing and, hopefully, scoring. Hall may just need to be more careful with his health in the future.

Hall also thought he might not be able to join Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle in AHL Oklahoma City during the lockout because he is still healing from his shoulder surgery and wasn’t assigned in time. Everyone in Hall’s circle thought that meant he could not play in the AHL no matter how long the work stoppage goes, but the AHL said that he is welcome to join the Barons as soon as he feels ready.

Highlight Reel:

http://youtu.be/r_1dCB9oaGw

The Oilers play a nice game of keep-away around the outer edge of the ice and Hall is there to finish the play off well.

http://youtu.be/s5mbZwotftg

The second hat trick of Hall’s career so far came during a big night for Edmonton as they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 9-2.

http://youtu.be/Ycz1Y-N5DoY

Hall wins it in overtime against the Los Angeles Kings when his captain Shawn Horcoff sends a pass behind himself–directly to Hall, who is once again positioned well in front of the net.

Fun Facts:

  • The scar on Hall’s forehead that he got after his blade accident is much less visible, as he recently reported on his Twitter, thanks to a wound healing cream called LivRelief.
  • Hall was actually drafted into the KHL in 2009 because the KHL drafts players a year before the NHL does. Ak Bars Kazan picked him 89th overall.
  • His parents are very sports-minded people: his mom, Kim Strba, introduced him to organized hockey when he was five years old. His dad, Steve Hall, kept a backyard rink that Hall and his friends used. The elder Hall was also a Canadian football player back in the day, playing for three different teams during the 1980s.