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Taylor Hall: Head-to-Toe Breakdown of the NHL's Newest Star

Steve SilvermanFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2017

Taylor Hall: Head-to-Toe Breakdown of the NHL's Newest Star

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    Taylor Hall was the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft. When the Edmonton Oilers had their choice between Hall and Tyler Seguin, they were in a can't-miss position.

    They could have gone with the speed, quickness and skill of Seguin, but they chose the power, drive and vicious shot of Hall.

    Seguin, taken by the Boston Bruins, has played a key role on that powerhouse Eastern Conference team.

    Hall flashed his talent in his first two years with the Oilers, but he has exploded in year three and become one of the top scorers and most dynamic players in the league.

    Hall has scored 41 points to lead the surging Oilers, with 13 goals and 28 assists. Hall is the seventh-leading scorer in the league.

    He has been especially hot during the end of March and beginning of April. He had a five-point night April 3 against Calgary. That effort came two games after recording a hat trick against the Vancouver Canucks.

    The Oilers drafted Hall because they believed he would become a superstar who could lead them out of the non-playoff darkness and back into the spotlight.

    He has been doing just that this season.

    Here's a head-to-toe breakdown of Hall's game.

Skating

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    If Taylor Hall is even, Taylor Hall is leavin'.

    Any time there's a foot race for a loose puck, Hall is a solid bet to come away with it if the two skaters start out at the same location.

    Hall has an explosive stride that allows him to eat up ground in a few fractions of a second. He has tremendous leg drive when he skates that allows him to come to top speed quickly.

    Skating is an essential part of most elite players' make-up. Hall is no exception. He is clearly one of the five fastest skaters in the game. He barely lost a fastest skate competition to Michael Grabner in the 2011 All-Star Skills Competition (above).

    That's when the two were skating for time on a stopwatch. When it's for a loose puck and the game is on the line, put your money on Hall.

Net Drive

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    There's a certain unstoppable characteristic that many of the great players have when they drive to the net.

    Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens was the greatest goal scorer of his era. Mark Messier is the second-leading scorer in the game's history. Both players had exceptional net drive.

    Simply put, you were not going to stop Richard or Messier when they went on a direct line to the net. That allowed them to take passes and turn them into sure goals or collect rebounds and finish the plays.

    Hall is not in a category with with Richard or Messier, but he has the same flash in his eye when he is driving hard in the offensive zone and he smells a scoring opportunity.

    If he can stay healthy and score goals for 10 to 15 years, perhaps Hall will find himself with the all-time great players.

    But for now, the Oilers know that when they see Hall pumping his legs with his stick on the ice, good things are going to happen.

Shooting Ability

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    Taylor Hall has an array of shots, and that makes him one of the most dangerous rising stars in the game.

    While shooting velocity in hockey is often overrated the way a quarterback's arm strength can be overstated in football, shooting accuracy is never overlooked. A scorer who can pick his spot is always going to have a chance to light the lamp and put a goal on the scoreboard.

    In the video above, Hall engages in a shooting accuracy contest with teammate Jordan Eberle. The friendly competition shows how Hall can fire his wrister and hit a small clock from 40 feet.

    That ability makes him dangerous in the offensive zone. Hall used his vicious wrist shot to open the scoring against the Vancouver Canucks March 30. He would eventually finish the game with a hat trick because of his sublime shooting accuracy.

Creativity

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    Speed, power and an accurate shot are not the only factors that are required for top scorers.

    Creativity is needed if a player wants to get a lane to shoot the puck. The defense is not just going to get out of the way and hand offensive players goals.

    They need to create their own openings. Hall can do that. In the video above, watch him create his own shooting lane by faking the shot, drawing the defenseman to him, toe-dragging the puck and then firing his shot and scoring.

    It's a certain instinct that the best scorers in the game have, and it's clear that Hall has it.

Battle Level

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    Taylor Hall has all the skills needed to become one of the best players in the league.

    He also has the fearlessness and battle level.

    Perhaps this was the most obvious difference between Hall and Seguin when they were drafted in 2010. Hall would take the body and do what it takes to win the puck on a regular basis. Seguin will do it on occasion, but not as often.

    Hall has continued to play with a high battle level in the NHL. He can be a punishing hitter (video above) and he will come away with the puck when he has to go to the corner and fight for it.

    It's a fearlessness that great players display on a regular basis that can turn a game around. The skating lanes and clear shots are not always going to be there. Sometimes you have to fight for every inch of territory and assert yourself.

    Hall has shown he can do this on a regular basis.

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