Taylor Hall has received word that his surgically repaired shoulder is healthy enough for him to join the Oklahoma City Barons for a conditioning stint.
Hall has been rehabbing his shoulder since he was shut down at the tail-end of last season to repair lingering damage that has plagued him since his time with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. After aggravating the injury to his shoulder with the Oilers, the decision was eventually made for Hall to repair the damage in the hope of improving his long-term health.
Hall had been skating with the Edmonton Oil Kings in recent weeks as part of his rehabilitation program, which he will now continue in OKC with the Barons for at least two more weeks before he will be able to join the team in game action.
An interesting note to this story is that due to his injury, the Oilers were not able to assign Hall to the AHL prior to the lockout, and as a result, Hall is not officially part of the roster. He will need to sign an AHL-only contract with the Barons that contains an out-clause to return to the NHL should the lockout be resolved. This is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First, it means that Hall is technically free to sign anywhere he wants and is reportedly choosing to go to Oklahoma City to join his teammates rather than travel overseas for a likely more lucrative contract offer.
Secondly, it means that Hall is not protected by the insurance policies included in both his ELC contract, and that protecting him for the earnings to come with his new 7 year, $42 Million contract he signed over the off-season that is set to begin in the 2013-14 season (if the NHL ever gets back on the ice that is.) Hall and his agent will have to arrange for his own insurance policy to protect his future earnings in the event of a serious injury while playing in the AHL. (Hat tip to Craig Custance of ESPN.com for identifying this little fact).
To date, Hall has been exempt from the effects of the lockout to a degree in that he was injured and therefore still able to collect his full salary. I say "to a degree" because Hall has been paid for the last month on the terms of his entry-level contract, which is in its final year. A large portion of Hall's earnings (up to $2.850 Million) on that deal are based on bonuses which he will obviously not reach (due to both injury and the lockout) which means he has only been paid to-date based on his base salary of $900,000 (plus a $90,000 signing bonus) (All salary numbers thanks to capgeek.com.)
While the contract intricacies are just a side story, the one thing that I hope they tell us is that Taylor Hall is really healthy and not just rushing back to the ice. Given the financial information above, it seems likely that Hall is actually going to be taking a pay cut to get back on the ice, which one would hope means that he won't be doing so before he is physically healed. If that is the case, and Hall is 100% when he finally steps on to the ice in a game situation for the Barons, then that might be the best piece of news to come from the lockout.