NHL 2010 Top Draft Prospects: Taylor Hall

Every year, there is that one can’t-miss prospect that hockey fans want their teams to tank the season for.

Son-of-a-gun, there may be three of those this year.

But Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires is arguably the best of those three players. Ranked number two in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm draft rankings, Hall has dominated the OHL since he arrived on the Major Junior scene, yet has been in the shadow of John Tavares until Johnny-T left last season.

Hall, drafted second overall in the 2007 OHL Priority Selection Draft, immediately made an impact for his Spitfires, winning the OHL and CHL Rookie of the Year honors with an astounding 45 goals and 84 points in his first season. He continued that hot streak a year later, en route to 90 points and a Memorial Cup Championship.

Playing in the 2010 World Junior Championships, Hall wound up with six goals and 12 points in just six games, ultimately being named to the tournament all-star team.

Taylor Hall has incredible speed and skill. “Think Pavel Bure,” said one scout. “He’s that explosive — and he’s extremely competitive. He doesn’t lose many battles.”

In The Hockey News’ 2010 Future Watch issue, they explain that he “intimidates the opposition with his speed and skill…he has fantastic creativity and hand-eye coordination.” Many scouts think that at 6-foot, 180 pounds, he is already in the physical shape needed to succeed in the big league.

The Kingston, Ontario native can dangle through skates and sticks, he can make a cross-ice, tape-to-tape saucer pass and can spin and dipsy-doodle around the ice, all while keeping his head up; a trait many in the past have not been lucky enough to have.

“He attacks the net area and he’s always moving,” said another scout. “He’s a difficult guy to defend because of that.”

This year, Hall played six less games due to the World Junior Championships, yet ended the season with 106 points and a plus-46 rating, which shows defensive ability that NHL scouts love to see in a young player. Hall doesn’t shy away from physical play and is not afraid to get hit. His Spitfires are currently in the OHL playoffs, looking to defend their Memorial Cup title.

However, Hall does not let any top rankings go to his head.

“There’s a lot of flaws in my game that I’d like to get better at and I’m happy I have a whole year to do that,” he said. “You see the way [Matt] Duchene is getting credit for the way he plays in both ends, that’s the way I’d like to be seen next year.”

And if he continues to improve his game, then the “Fall for Taylor Hall” will be worth it for whichever NHL team chooses him in June.

Alan Bass is a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com. In addition to writing for Inside Hockey and Pro Hockey News , he has also worked for the Philadelphia FlyersHe is the general manager of the Muhlenberg College hockey team as well. You can contact him at BergHockey24@gmail.com .

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