Saturday, January 9, 2010

WJC 2010 Draft Eligible Scouting Reports Pt. 4: Taylor Hall

Well, as promised, here is the last of my WJC scouting report series on key 2010 draft candidates.

Even though Canada failed to capture gold this year, they still had a heck of a team and you know that they'll be back with a vengeance in Buffalo next time around. Taylor Hall could be a part of that revenge tour. Or, he might find himself on an NHL roster this time next year.

Time will tell, but it sure looks like he's going to be the No. 1 in June. Here's the report:

Taylor Hall, LW, 6-0, 185, Canada (14 Nov 1991)

Blazing speed, agility and a dazzling array of moves and puckhandling skills characterize Hall's game. He has it all: explosive first step, world class speed, rapid change of direction, superior on-ice vision, pro-caliber shot and release, and top-notch offensive hockey sense. Not all that big; lanky frame needs added bulk and he showed himself susceptible to bigger, stronger and skilled opponents (read: Cam Fowler). Scored highlight reel goals in nearly every game; leaves opponents flat-footed and dazed. Natural nose for the net and the hand-eye coordination to control pucks in tight to finish off scoring chances. Does not need much of a window to put the puck in the net. Not afraid to take the puck to the net and his slippery elusiveness makes him a tough mark to pick up in the slot. Defensive game needs some work; his shortcomings were exposed in the gold medal game against the USA.

Overview: Even with the criticisms, let's face it: Taylor Hall is this year's top draft prospect. He has a wealth of skill and ability. and the drive to put it all together. The failure at Saskatoon will be good for him; a Memorial Cup in Windsor and playing for the CHL's top team hasn't presented Hall with much adversity, so he'll grow from this and should develop a hunger that might not have presented itself had Team Canada won it all. Watch Hall closely in the season's second half to see if he catches fire offensively and shows more of a sense of urgency in his game.

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