Despite blazing speed, a wicked shot, and insane offensive instincts, Taylor Hall’s National Hockey League career has been as tumultuous as it has been successful.
As the first-overall selection in the 2010 NHL Draft, Hall’s on-ice abilities have never come into question. Capable of darting down the wing before ripping a shot on goal or dancing through his opposition, Hall’s place amongst the NHL’s elite is undeniably well deserved.
Yet, although Hall has been incredibly successful on the ice, it has been his mere ability to stay on it throughout his eight-year career which has diluted his reputation as an elite player.
Marred by frequent injuries to his ankle, knee, and shoulder, Hall had played in just 79% of all his regular season games prior to the beginning of the 2017-18 season. In other words, the Calgary, Alberta native had missed 121 regular season contests of a possible 547 – a glaring indication of his inconsistent health.
Devils announce the Taylor Hall will be out 3-4 weeks with a left knee injury.
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) November 16, 2016
However, to begin the current season, Hall appears to have put any and all questions regarding his wellness in the rearview mirror. As healthy and skilled as ever, Hall’s ability to grace the ice on a consistent basis is laying the foundation for the greatest campaign of his young career.
The hockey world was flipped upside down when the trade which sent Hall to the Devils was originally announced. Yet, despite the enduring controversy surrounding the deal, Hall’s arrival in New Jersey signaled a much needed fresh start for the elite winger.
The Taylor Hall trade is interesting in light of this Matt Duchene deal.
— Travis Yost (@travisyost) November 6, 2017
Fortunately for both he and the Devils, Hall wasted no time taking advantage of his new surroundings, as the speedster notched 20 goals and 53 points for New Jersey in his inaugural season with the team – a total which tied him for the team lead.
Now, in 2017-18, Hall is taking his game to new heights.
Playing alongside incredibly skilled teammates in Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt, Hall’s arrival has helped to revitalize a previously dormant New Jersey offence. Attacking with speed and creating scoring opportunities off of the rush, Hall has been essential in molding the Devils’ offence into a quick-strike team with the ability to bulge the twine with startling frequency.
This blazing offensive attack has been shockingly successful, and especially so for a New Jersey franchise whose game has long been founded upon strict defensive play. In fact, as of the 25-game mark, the Devils’ goals for per game average stood at well over three tallies per contest – a drastic improvement considering the team’s 2016-17 average amounted to slightly over just two goals per game.
A Sizzling Sniper
Given his prominent role within New Jersey’s sudden offensive juggernaut, Hall has placed himself on pace to achieve a number of new career-highs.
As of the 25-game mark, Hall had notched an impressive eight goals and 19 assists – a 27-point total which ranked first amongst all Devils players and a whopping nine points greater than his next closest teammate in Hischier. Further, Hall was on pace to set a new career-high in points with 89, a total which would shatter his previous high-water mark of 80 which he set as a member of the Edmonton Oilers in 2013-14.
Now, perhaps the most interesting tidbit of all of these projections is Hall’s projected assist total.
Known largely as a shooter and a finisher, Hall’s playmaking abilities have been on full display thus far this season and have illustrated yet another dimension within his game. Having collected 19 helpers through his first 25 contests, Hall was on pace to collect an incredible 63 assists over the course of the full season – a total which would be ten greater than his previous career-high of 53.
So, what can we take away from these numbers?
Hall’s Health and Prosperity
Well, it has become abundantly clear that Hall’s good health is paying dividends on the ice.
Nearing the prime of his career, Hall is steadily becoming a more versatile and adaptable force than ever before. No longer simply a shooter, Hall is becoming a complete threat who can dismantle opposing teams on a nightly basis with ease.
What’s more is that Hall is quite clearly confident in doing so, as his good health has generated a glowing confidence which he carries onto the ice with each and every contest.
Brett Slawson is a four-year veteran of The Hockey Writers who covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL prospects, and the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads.
Contact Brett on Twitter @brettslawson92, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.