Taylor Hall

Crosby joins group of ‘high-end, young’ Canadians at Worlds


A quick glance at some of the forwards that have committed to playing for Team Canada at this year’s World Championship, and perhaps it’s no surprise that Sidney Crosby wanted to be a part of it.

Still, Team Canada GM Nill didn’t expect Crosby to play. And he certainly didn’t expect Crosby to be the one to reach out to him.

“I was going to give him a call out of respect, just to see if he wanted to go,” Nill told TSN 1290. “Well, it was the opposite way. As soon as [the Penguins were eliminated], he reached out to me right away and said, ‘I want to be part of this team.’”

Among the “high-end, young kids” that Crosby will be skating with in the Czech Republic are forwards Claude Giroux, Matt Duchene, Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon, Tyler Seguin, and Ryan O’Reilly, while on defense, there’s 19-year-old Aaron Ekblad.

“They’re the new guys that are kind of taking over Hockey Canada, so it’s going to be very exciting to watch,” said Nill.

Team Canada opens the tournament Friday against Latvia.

Related: NBCSN to air every Team USA game at Worlds

Hall caught off guard by Oilers’ front office shuffle


With Connor McDavid likely heading to Edmonton, Taylor Hall is hoping to be a part of the Oilers’ future plans.

Hall, who had 14 goals and 38 points while missing 19 games due to injury this season, knows newly appointed GM Peter Chiarelli has a history of moving young players.

“I don’t know what his plan is, but he’s not afraid to make trades. He’s traded young players before,” Hall told the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson. “I don’t want to be traded. It’s been a tough five years for sure, but getting Connor McDavid … I think what everyone says is true. He’s only 18 years old, but I don’t think it’s going to be that long a transition (period) for him.

“I was excited when we got the pick (in the draft lottery). I don’t want to leave. I think we’ve got a team that can do some damage.”

Hall said he was caught off by Friday’s news.

“I saw the (TV) ticker and thought it was a typo,” he said.

“I thought Peter was coming in to oversee stuff. … MacT is a really good person. It’s weird. I’m not sure what Craig’s role will be now, but it’s tough. That’s the way hockey goes.”

Hall has a history with Chiarelli as the two met when Hall was a top-rated prospect for the 2010 NHL draft. However, Hall is uncertain whether the two will have a future together.

Hall is on his way to Vienna, Austria, today to prepare for next month’s World Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic.

So…what do the Oilers do now?


The Edmonton Oilers have some major decisions to make.

None of those decisions will involve who they’ll draft first overall in June. After winning today’s lottery, they’ll take Connor McDavid. We’re 99.99999999 percent certain of that.

But things have definitely changed for the team with the longest active playoff drought, now nine seasons long. McDavid is ready to play in the NHL today. By all accounts, he’s ready to be a star, a la Sidney Crosby, who put up 102 points in his rookie season.

As Oilers GM Craig MacTavish put it, winning today’s lottery was “a game-changer” for his club.

Now, for the record, it’s been reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that MacTavish has informed forwards Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov that they will not be traded.

But one has to wonder, is that still the case? Because the Oilers weren’t counting on getting McDavid. They only entered the lottery with an 11.5 percent chance of winning. Chances were, they were going to get a player like Boston College d-man Noah Hanifin or Erie forward Dylan Strome. Two great prospects, sure. But not McDavid.

On top of Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov and (presumably) McDavid, Edmonton also has 19-year-old center Leon Draisaitl, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft.

That’s six top-six forwards, even if Draisaitl isn’t quite there yet.

It’s also three centers. Which begs the question, if MacTavish does hold true to his reported word and keeps Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, and Yakupov, could Draisaitl be an asset the Oilers would consider trading for defensive help?

Maybe, maybe not. But just so you know, here’s what MacTavish said a few days ago:

“Make no mistake, we have the assets to go out and acquire more proven players.”

And then he said this:

“Do I envision a scenario where a proven top one or two defenseman becomes available? Potentially. I think there are going to be some very unhappy teams here in the next couple of weeks. There are going to be teams that are up against a very tight salary cap, and that’s going to create an environment where they potentially could be looking to offload some high-end assets.

“We’d be in a position — because of the developing assets that we have — where we’d be able to acquire them.”

Anyway, it’s only been a few moments since the Oilers learned the good news. They’re going to need some time to think about what they want to do. The draft isn’t until June 26–27 in Sunrise, Florida.  

“We’re going to enjoy this for now,” MacTavish said today after the big win. “It’s a pretty special night for all the Oilers fans. It’s a game-changer for the franchise. I feel great for the players and I feel really good for the fans. We’ll enjoy that for an evening and then figure out how this all works going forward.”

If you’ve got any advice for MacT, please do share it in the comments section.

Of course they did: Oilers win 2015 NHL Draft Lottery, will select first overall


Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but the Edmonton Oilers will pick first overall at the draft.

That was the big story out of Toronto on Saturday night as the Oilers, who came into the lottery with an 11.5 percent chance at the No. 1 pick, won it all and will now get the top choice — for the fourth time since 2010.

It’ll also give Edmonton a shot at adding OHL Erie wunderkind Connor McDavid to a group that includes those three aforementioned No. 1 picks: Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov.

While tonight’s development was euphoric for Edmonton, it was a tough blow for both Buffalo and Arizona, who finished lower in the standings than the Oilers and had better lottery odds heading into tonight. The Sabres will now select second overall and the Coyotes third, and it’s widely expected Buffalo will select Boston University sniper Jack Eichel with the No. 2 pick.

As for the rest of the draft order, it looks like this:

1. Edmonton Oilers

2. Buffalo Sabres

3. Arizona Coyotes

4. Toronto Maple Leafs

5. Carolina Hurricanes

6. New Jersey Devils

7. Philadelphia Flyers

8. Columbus Blue Jackets

9. San Jose Sharks

10. Colorado Avalanche

11. Florida Panthers

12. Dallas Stars

13. Los Angeles Kings

14. Boston Bruins

Immediately following the draft, Oilers assistant GM Bill Scott spoke with Sportsnet and wouldn’t confirm they’d be taking McDavid No. 1 overall — but all signs point to McDavid heading to Edmonton.

“We want to wait ’til we’re in Florida and make that call live,” Scott explained. “It’s a special day for that player that goes No. 1 overall, and we want him to have that moment.”

Barring some unbelievable turn of events, that player will be McDavid. He’s been tabbed as a generational talent that could turn a franchise around — just consider what his current boss, OHL Erie owner Sherry Bassin, said recently.

“I think (Barrie Colts coach) Dale Hawerchuk said it best,” Bassin explained, per Reuters. “Dale told me that Connor skates like Bobby Orr, sees the ice like Wayne Gretzky and handles the puck like Mario Lemieux.

“Anybody who knows hockey knows this is the highest of praise.”

Last week, the NHL released its final draft rankings and, to nobody’s surprise, McDavid topped the list, followed by Eichel in the No. 2 spot. Boston College d-man Noah Hanifin, McDavid’s teammate with the Otters, Dylan Strome, OHL Kingston forward Lawson Crouse and OHL London scoring sensation Mitch Marner rounded out the top six North American skaters.

The European rankings were topped by Finnish winger Mikko Rantanen. At 6-foot-3, the 18-year-old spent this season playing professionally with SM-liiga outfit TPS Turku, scoring 28 points in 56 games while serving as an alternate captain.

“Rantanen is in a class of his own at present in Europe,” NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb said. “After Mikko you can pick almost anyone for the next spots.”

Seguin, Giroux highlight Team Canada roster for Worlds


Canada won’t be lacking for offensive weapons at this year’s World Hockey Championships.

Two of the league’s top-12 scorers — Dallas’ Tyler Seguin and Philly’s Claude Giroux — will wear the red and white in Prague from May 1-17, Hockey Canada announced on Tuesday. Seguin and Giroux were part of the original 19-man roster set for the tournament; Canada can register up to 25 players as teams are eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The rest of the Canadian roster looks like this…

Goalies: Martin Jones, Mike Smith

Defense: Tyson Barrie, Brent Burns, Aaron Ekblad, Jake Muzzin, David Savard

Forwards: Seguin, Giroux, Matt Duchene, Cody Eakin, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Ennis, Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan O’Reilly, Jason Spezza, Tyler Toffoli.

Team Canada will be coached by Todd McLellan.