This year more than ever, the race for the Hart Trophy is wide open. All week, the NHL writing staff at Full Press Coverage will Make the Case for each of the top contenders. Next up: Taylor Hall.
The lead up to the 2010 NHL Entry Draft was all about Taylor Hall vs. Tyler Seguin. Both were billed as pre-imminent superstars. Ultimately, the Edmonton Oilers selected Hall first overall and Seguin went to the Boston Bruins with the second selection. Seguin went on to win a Cup in his first season with the Bruins. Hall, on the other hand, has yet to see the playoffs. The two are linked in one other way as well… they were both traded by General Manager, Peter Chiarelli.
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Chiarelli, as the general manager of the Bruins at the time, traded Seguin to the Stars following the 2013 season. Just a few years later, Chiarelli was replaced in Boston and he eventually was hired as the Oilers General Manager. After one season as the general manager, Chiarelli traded Hall to the New Jersey Devils.
Now, in his second season with the Devils, Hall has finally emerged as a bonafide superstar. He currently sits on the cusp of his first 40 goal season with 39 and has a career-high 94 points with two games to go. Currently, he is on a nine-game point streak in which he has nine goals and eight assists. The streak would be more impressive, however, from December 21st through March 6th, Hall registered at least a point in 26 consecutive games. During that stretch, Hall had 18 goals and 20 assists. This season, Hall has factored into nearly 40 percent of all the Devils goals.
His performance has helped the Devils surprise a lot of people. After finishing last in the division with a mere 70 points (and only 28 wins) last year, many picked them to finish last again this season. Now, the Devils occupy the first wildcard spot to the surprise of many. One point in their final two games clinches a playoff berth. Much of that has been on the shoulders of Hall.
“He has been incredible this year,” teammate Ben Lovejoy said. “There can’t be a player more important to their team than Taylor is to ours.”
Among his peers, Hall is eighth in the league in goals. One behind Tyler Seguin. He is sixth in the league in points and is third in the league in goals created per game. Hall has tallied seven game-winning goals this season, all coming since December. He is tied for seventh in goals per game at .52 with Brad Marchand, another Hart Trophy candidate. Alexander Ovechkin leads the league with a .57 goals per game mark.
Hall represents the truest meaning of most valuable player. Without Hall, this team likely finishes where most pundits felt they would this season—dead last. Hall doesn’t lead the league in scoring, however, his impact on the Devils this season has them on the cusp of their first playoff appearance since 2012.