Taylor Hall scored his 17th goal of the season Friday night in a losing cause vs. the St.Louis Blues, getting sole possession of his team’s lead in that category. With 31 games left in the season, barring injury, there’s a very good chance the rookie will notch 20 goals. Hall was very highly touted going into his draft year, and was selected first overall by the Oilers amidst a lot of fan fare in the city of Edmonton. The Oilers aren’t having a great season (they are last in the Western Conference, and 30th overall in the NHL and have lost 8 of the last 9 games), but the rookie is having a very solid freshman campaign, with 32 points in 51 games, tying him for the team lead. In comparison to other highly regarded first overall picks before him, Hall is certainly on the right track.
Rick Nash was the quintessential power forward that all teams covet when he was picked first overall in 2002 by the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he finished his rookie year with 17 goals and 39 points. Nash went on to win the rocket Richard trophy in 2004 scoring 41 goals. Joe Thornton, another very highly touted prospect, was selected first overall by the Boston Bruins in 1997, but finished his rookie season with a meager 3 goals and 7 points in 55 games. He went on to win the Hart and Art Ross trophies in 2006. More recently, highly advertised rookie and first overall pick Steven Stamkos scored 23 goals in his first season in the league, and followed it up with 51 goals and a rocket Richard trophy the following year. This season he currently leads the league in goals thanks to an injury to Sidney Crosby and is on pace to top 65. 2009 first overall pick John Tavares had the best rookie year of all the aforementioned stars, scoring 24 goals and 54 points with the lowly New York Islanders last season. If Hall keeps up his current pace, he might be able to surpass Tavares in his first year in the NHL. And Oilers fans couldn’t be happier about it.
The Oilers fell short in their comeback bid last night against the St. Louis Blues, but welcomed back rookie Jordan Eberle to line-up after missing time with an ankle injury. He notched two assists in his return, helping the Oilers to within one goal and nearly overcoming a 4-1 deficit. Dustin Penner missed last night’s game with the flu, but he is expected back tonight as the Oilers travel to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets.