Edmonton Oilers fans might be going overboard with Taylor Hall expectations

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for taylorhall.jpgIn the pre-lockout years, players such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Joe Thornton took a little while to hit their point producing primes. Yet since the lockout forced NHL bigwigs to let the speedy and skilled loose, the learning curve for young players almost seems more like a straight line.

The near-to-immediate success of the Sidney Crosby/Patrick Kane/Alex Ovechkin-type top picks makes it pretty difficult for any 18-year-old who may go first in subsequent drafts. Fans of the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders might not want to hear it, but not every No. 1 pick is created equal.

Oilers blog Copper & Blue projects Taylor Hall to be a productive winger in the NHL, but they want to temper the pie-in-the-sky prognostications of 40 goal/90-to-100 point seasons.

What I find hilarious about the people that are already set to judge Hall strictly by his boxcar numbers is that Jonathan Toews, a player that every single team in the league would love to have, and every single fan in Edmonton would love to see Hall emulate has never come close to this magical ninety point plateau. Toews’ point totals over the last three years: 54-69-68, yet he’s a Stanley Cup champion, an Olympic hero and is widely considered to be one of the best forwards in the game.

So listen to me all of you crazy people out there: your silly boxcar-only projections and lofty expectations are short-sighted and incredibly difficult to reach, even for the best players in the NHL. Taylor Hall can become an outstanding, even great, NHL player without hitting your preconceived superstar points totals.

The good news is that the Oilers have a few building blocks beyond Hall. While Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson might be overrated in some circles, combining those two prospects with Hall, hobbled playmaker Ales Hemsky and the somewhat-resurgent Dustin Penner gives the Oilers solid firepower going forward. That being said, the Western Conference is competitive from top to bottom, so Edmonton fans might want to take it easy on Hall, in particular.

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    Wild just wouldn’t stay down, edge Kings in OT

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    Don’t blame Ben Bishop if, deep down, he was glad that he didn’t make his Los Angeles Kings debut on Monday.

    After seeing the kind of speed, drive and all-around electric play displayed by the Minnesota Wild, you can understand a goalie shuddering at the often wide-open action. Despite falling behind four times against the Kings, the Wild ultimately edged Los Angeles 5-4 in an overtime thriller.

    Mikael Granlund‘s 20th goal of the season ended it in OT, and quickly. And it was beautiful:

    …. Unless you’re Jonathan Quick and the Kings, that is.

    Granlund is absolutely on fire right now.

    Ryan White made a great first impression for the Wild, scoring a goal and an assist (while displaying great flow). Martin Hanzal wasn’t able to score, though he did make his presence felt with five hits. And, again, Bishop might have secretly been relieved to put his Kings debut on hold.

    Marian Gaborik turned back the clock a bit to his Wild prime, scoring a goal and an assist. He generally made quite a bit happen for Los Angeles.

    It was a tough one for Anze Kopitar, meanwhile, who was unable to generate offense and suffered a -3. He wasn’t able to stop Granlund in OT, though who could?

    The Wild still must worry as mumps sidelined at least Zach Parise and Jason Pominville, but for now, they’re battling on. Just ask the Kings how resilient this group really is.

    Sell this: Kucherov, Lightning put trades behind them, blast Senators

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning might be in sell mode, but that doesn’t mean their players are quitting on this season.

    After shipping Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle out of town, they could have rolled over against a hungry Ottawa Senators team. Instead, they blew them out, winning 5-1 on Monday.

    Nikita Kucherov was the biggest standout, collecting a natural hat trick, which you can watch above. (He also generated an assist.)

    Jonathan Drouin had a big night in his own right, assisting on all three of Kucherov’s goals. Victor Hedman and Tyler Johnson generated two assists apiece, as well.

    And, yes, Andrei Vasilevskiy inspired at least a few “Ben who?” jokes by making 39 out of 40 saves, including this beauty:

    As you can see, Ottawa actually had a 1-0 lead at that point, so it could have been a different game if the agile goalie did do the splits there.

    The Lightning are still five points out of the final wild card spot, trailing Boyle’s new team in the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Senators, meanwhile, find themselves slipping a bit out of the race to win the Atlantic Division, especially considering Montreal’s comeback win against New Jersey.

    Tampa Bay may may not be done making moves and recognizing painful truth that the odds are against them rallying to a playoff spot. That said, nights like these make you wonder if a run is at least possible.

    Canadiens’ big guns trigger comeback OT win against Devils

    NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 27:  Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates the game winning power play goal by Alex Galchenyuk #27 at 2:54 of overtrime against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 27, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey.  The Canadiens defeated the Devils 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Things were looking a little grim there for the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

    The New Jersey Devils had, at one point, a 2-0 lead. At least in some corners there were murmurs about a bad start for Claude Julien. Then their big guns swung the game.

    The comeback started with Alex Radulov, though the drama was just beginning:

    Travis Zajac made it 3-1 for the Devils on the power play, only for Radulov to assist on two Max Pacioretty goals to send the game to overtime.

    From there, Alex Galchenyuk scored the overtime-winner for Montreal on the man advantage. Radulov got yet another secondary assist – he ended up with four points tonight – while Shea Weber nabbed the primary helpers on the last two tallies.

    Long story short, the Canadiens biggest names came through, allowing Julien to maybe utther a sigh of relief.

     

    Trade: Capitals go all in for Kevin Shattenkirk; Blues receive picks

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    If there was any doubt about the Washington Capitals going “all-in” to win a Stanley Cup, they erased it on Monday. They sent a pick-heavy package to the St. Louis Blues to land defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

    Yes, that’s right; the top team in the NHL standings landed the biggest trade deadline target. They also edged other contenders hoping to land Shattenkirk, including the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers.

    Here’s the official announcement, which clears up some of the finer details:

    The conditional second-rounder might come in 2019, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford. The full conditions are … complex, so check out this thread from the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan for the highly specific factors that could net more picks for the Blues.

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    To recap, the players involved go as follows: Brad Malone and Zach Sanford to St. Louis; goalie Pheonix Copley to Washington.

    TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the Blues retained 39 percent of Shattenkirk’s salary in the deal.

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    Sanford, 22, was a second-round pick (61st overall) by the Caps in 2013. He has three points in 26 NHL games this season and also played 25 games (compiling 16 points) in the AHL.

    Malone, 27, is a gritty player (30 points and 188 PIM in 176 games played) while Copley, 25, generated a nice .920 save percentage in 25 AHL games this season. He also struggled in his lone NHL appearance for St. Louis in 2016-17.

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    Almost exactly one year ago, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said that he believed the team has a two-year window to win a Cup, or at least as their best opportunity to win it all. He’s backing up those words with this bold move.

    (And maybe he was playing coy by stating that he was only looking to improve his team “on the fringes.”)