In 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.