Hall Ready To Rock As A Sophomore
Taylor Hall has never had this kind of time on his hands.
Hall's rookie season was cut short on March 3 when he suffered an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for the season's final 17 games.
But instead of dwelling on what could have been, Hall devoted that recovery time as well as a lengthy off-season to getting game-ready for his sophomore year.
“I've trained for about three and a half months now and I think it's been good for me,” Hall said. “I haven't had that kind of time to train in a long time because in Windsor we had long seasons. So, I think this long off-season's turned my body well.”
Hall got accustomed to winning during his time in Windsor, but for him to dominate the NHL the way he did the Ontario Hockey League, he'll have to take his game to another level.
In his injury-shortened rookie season, Hall scored only 22 goals including a goal-less seven-game stretch to start the season.
While Hall wouldn't make any bold predictions, he does believe he comes into his second year with a better idea of what to expect.
“I'm not expecting a huge jump by any means, but I am expecting to be a major contributor this year,” he said. “Improving a lot of things defensively – my plus-minus wasn't that great last year – and, obviously, offensively, I think just being more used to the systems and the way they play in the NHL's going to help out a lot.”
The distractions of his rookie season behind him, Hall looks to settle into his role as one of the Oilers young leaders.
The re-acquisition of former captain Ryan Smyth should take the load off the team's elite rookie crop from last season. However, Hall wants to prove that he belongs and can be a force for the young Oilers team.
“This year I come in, I know what my job is. I know my role, and it's all hockey from here and I think that's positive.”
Of course, not having the added pressure of going from the draft board to the first line will also help Hall keep his focus on the ice.
That experience should, however, give him some valuable lessons for incoming first-overall pick Ryan Nugent Hopkins.
“I was getting bugged as I walked in by a few of the boys, saying I'm ‘old news' now,” he joked. “I think it's great for Ryan. There's going to be a lot of pressure on him, but just talking to him he seems like the kind of kid that can handle that and I think he's going to do great.”
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