I wanted to get this post up earlier, but was OBE (Overcome By Events).
But, after watching Team Canada run roughshod over Slovakia last night, there is no doubt in my mind that unless something drastic happens between now and June, Windsor Spitfires left winger Taylor Hall will be the top selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Hall, who entered the season as a clear favorite, was having a relatively quiet World Jr. tourney until he exploded for three goals and a helper in what was as dominating a performance as any I've seen in a while.
His second goal of the night was particularly filthy (and I mean that in a good way- like describing a baseball pitcher's best stuff); exploding down the left wing ice like an 18-year-old Alexander Ovechkin, Hall rifled a laser beam that flashed over the Slovak netminder's upraised glovehand, hit the upper left far post where the crossbar connects, and then bounced down and into the net with a loud Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing! It was truly a thing of beauty, and the appreciative fans in Saskatoon knew it, too- because the place went bonkers.
His hat trick goal was nice, too. But it was a bit of a headscratcher, as the Slovaks simply let Hall walk to the front of the net after corralling the puck along the left halfwall, where he zipped a high backhander into the yawning cage after the goalie appeared to be frozen in place and unable to stay with Hall moving to his (the goalie's) left.
Yes, folks- Hall (whom I saw in the Memorial Cup last year, so this tournament wasn't my first viewing and won't be the last) delivered the goods precisely the way all of the scouts have been saying he can all along. He's as dynamic a game-breaking wing you'll see anywhere and while he may or may not be a generational talent (I've heard that his hockey sense isn't what it could be in order to be the true definition of dominant), he's the NHL's next star-in-waiting.
It doesn't look like the Bruins will land him, but Hall is definitely worth watching. One scout told me that Hall's playing style and skillset reminds him a bit of Phil Kessel (not comparing personality/character) and he'd no doubt be a nice remedy for what currently ails this Boston team which lacks consistent scoring punch.
Of course, with Toronto playing better and putting more and more distance between themselves and the last-place Carolina Hurricanes (not to mention the Columbus Bluejackets and Edmonton Oilers looking pretty putrid lately, B's fans need not fall too in love with Hall.
But for one night at least- it was great to simply watch and admire the virtuoso hockey performance No. 4 for Team Canada executed while skating on home soil.
The kid's got game...if you watched the contest and didn't know it before, you surely do now.