Taylor Hall says he’s not feeling any pressure heading into next season as the reigning Hart Trophy winner.
“I don’t feel any pressure if anything it’s more relief,” Hall said in an interview on Tim and Sid. “When you come into the league as a first-overall pick you’re kind of expected to win trophies and to lead your team. So I feel a bit validated in that aspect, but I’m hungry for more and excited to see what we can do next season.”
Hall, 26, was taken by the Edmonton Oilers with the top pick of the 2010 NHL Draft after winning two Memorial Cups with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. But he wasn’t able to replicate that success in Edmonton and was ultimately dealt to the Devils in 2016 for defenceman Adam Larsson.
The trade frustrated Hall and he vowed to be a leader with the Devils.
Now two years later, he’s got a Hart Trophy and some playoff experience, but he’s set his eyes on even bigger things.
“It’s something I’ll never forget and something I’ll always be proud of,” Hall said of his Hart Trophy win. “For me personally it’s now about taking that next step as a player and keeping myself in that tier of guys that seem to be there every year.”
Hall set career-highs in goals (39), assists (54) and points (93) in 73 games last season. He really emerged as a Hart Trophy candidate in January when he began a 26-game point streak that saw him score 18 goals and 38 points over that span.
The Devils earned a playoff berth one season after picking first overall in the draft with Hall being a big reason why. His 93 points were 41 more than second-place on his team and his 39 goals were 15 more than any other Devil. While the Devils lost in the opening round to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Hall got his first taste of the playoffs and can’t wait to get back there.
“It was exciting to be in the playoffs and see what that pace of play was like,” Hall said. “It was fast, it was physical and as a player you need to find a way to have an impact every night.”
Hall had an impact with the Devils most nights last season. If he can do it again, the Devils have to like their chances of returning to the post-season.