For Taylor Hall, it’s been a long road to his first playoff appearance. With his New Jersey Devils being eliminated from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games on Saturday night, we decided to take a look back at how he got here, and why he deserves all of the praise he has been getting.
Back in 2010, the Edmonton Oilers took Taylor Hall with the first pick of the first round (first overall) of the NHL Entry Draft. He went on to play in his first NHL season later in 2010. Hall had a phenomenal rookie season, scoring 42 points (22 goals and 20 assists) in 65 games. Though not nominated for the “Rookie of the Year” award (Calder Memorial Trophy), it was clear that he was going to be a real threat for years to come. The next season, he exceeded his previous point total by 11 points, notching 27 goals and 26 assists for a total of 53 points in four fewer games (61).
The forward really broke out during the 2013-2014 season, scoring 80 points (27 goals and 53 assists) in 75 games. He set career highs in points, assists, and games played. Additionally, he tied his career high for goals. After a few years of hard work, Taylor Hall was starting to become a bit of a household name around the NHL. But, of course, like it usually is for players on the Edmonton Oilers, the other shoe had to drop. The left-wing had a season shortened to 53 games by injury and had the worst year of his career statistically, with 14 goals and 24 assists for a total of 38 points. However, the year after, Hall picked up right where he left off, 26 goals and 39 assists for 65 points in total. He also completed his first 82-game season. Little did he know, that would be his final season as an Edmonton Oiler.
In late June of 2016, Taylor Hall was traded to the New Jersey Devils. The return from Edmonton? Adam Larsson, a defenseman one year younger than him. And… that’s it. The infamous trade was one-for-one. It was a surprising trade for the hockey community at large, but especially Taylor Hall. He described his reaction as being “a little bit shocked”, but also “excited for the challenge and excited to join a team that wants [him] there.” It was time, once again, for Hall to prove himself.
In his first season with New Jersey, Hall scored 20 goals and 33 assists for a total of 53 points in 72 games. He brought an energy to the team that they hadn’t seen in a very long time. Then, this year, he absolutely exploded. The 26-year-old scored 39 goals and 54 assists for a total of 93 points. He set new career highs in points, goals, and assists. 41 points separate him from the second highest goal-scorer on the team. Furthermore, 15 assists and 15 goals set him apart from the second place players in those categories. All of these things have placed him in talks for winning the Hart Trophy. Additionally, he led his team to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. In five playoff games, Hall recorded two goals and four assists, adding up to six points.
So for Taylor Hall, the road to success was long, but definitely worth it. He finally played in his first playoff game this year, and the future looks extremely bright for him, as well as his New Jersey Devils.
What do you think of Taylor Hall’s performance this year and thus far in his career? Do you think he has a chance at the Hart Trophy this year? Let us know by tweeting us @PuckItUpBlog!