Let’s get one thing straight when it comes to Taylor Hall: he isn’t going anywhere and shouldn’t be.
The Edmonton Oilers’ No. 1 pick in last June’s entry draft is going to remain in the NHL and soak up as much as he can this year. It’s clear to Oilers management that whatever happens with Hall during the 2010-11 season, he will benefit far more from the experience than he would if he was returned to spend another year riding the bus in junior. While it might be a school of hard knocks at times, it’s the right move for the young winger.
This is a really good decision by Oilers GM Steve Tambellini and his staff. The key is the Oilers will not put a lot of internal pressure on Hall to be a consistent contributor. Even making him a healthy scratch can be more educational than anything he’d get back from Windsor and Tambellini knows it.
Understandably the people in Edmonton got their hopes up after the Oilers had a terrific preseason and won the first two games in the regular season. Everybody started thinking, "Whoa, here we go again and the dynasty is starting."
Fans in Edmonton just need to swallow a giant chill pill. The good news now is Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and Hall have all have shown flashes of brilliance. The not so good news is they’ve also shown signs of being raw and inexperienced. That’s the way it will go for that trio this year.
Inside that dressing room, Hall isn’t facing the kind of pressure to produce that he’s getting from the fans. That’s just coming because he’s in Canada and he’s with an organization that has won Stanley Cups. The external pressure is there, but internally there is very little pressure to deliver on a nightly basis because the Oilers know what they’ve got and are willing to be patient.
People are going to argue Hall should go back to junior, win a gold medal at the world junior championship with Team Canada and play a lot, but I don’t agree. He’s won every award, he’s won every gold medal and another one isn’t going to make a difference.
He needs to know what it’s like this season to go up against men and he’s got to learn how to be a pro. He can’t do that in Windsor. Hall is going to have to take his lumps by taking one step back to go two steps forward.
The Oilers have all year to develop their young stars. They just all need to get a good solid year under their belts and, by chance, if that includes missing the playoffs but drafting in the top 10 again then so be it.
The worst Tambellini could be accused of is following the blueprints Pittsburgh and Chicago used to win the Stanley Cup. The Oilers should be so lucky.
The goal for the Oilers in this Year 1 is to learn to walk before they run. In Year 2, they have to continue to build through the draft. The third year, the goal is to win the Stanley Cup. Keeping Hall in Edmonton this season is just the first step.