Before the season started, I was one of the voices saying that Taylor Hall ought to be returned to junior. Of course, once the decision to keep him in Edmonton was made, I was also one of the people that was very excited to see Taylor Hall play. He didn't disappoint. Derek showed yesterday that Hall was making those around him better, and Bruce showed earlier today that Hall is an individual scoring chance machine. After the jump, I'll take a look at the comparables that I chose for Hall before the year, compare his rookie performance to their performance at the same age, and look forward to where Hall fits in for 2010-11.
The comparable players that I identified before the season were Mike Modano, Patrick Marleau, Jason Spezza, Jason Arnott, Petr Nedved, David Legwand, and Stu Barnes. At this point, it's pretty clear that Hall is not Stu "Worst-Case-Scenario" Barnes, so we'll take him off the list and a guy that Bruce suggested in the comments this summer in Rick Nash. I had Marleau as my favorite point of comparison, but Modano dominated the poll when we looked at the numbers in February.
So how is Hall doing? Well, it kind of depends on whether you compare based on age (19-year old seasons), experience (Draft +1 seasons). In the chart below, I've done both (but I've organized it by 19-year old season) and normalized all of the point totals (including any playoff totals) to an 82-game season:
Even compared to these very good players, Taylor Hall fits right in, which is extremely exciting. It's also exciting that he's improved his standing ever so slightly from our look in February and that he's on the right side of the average. Looking at this list, several of these men are now or have been among the top players on their respective teams, and while none of them was ever in the conversation for the Hart Trophy (unless I'm misremembering one of Mike Modano's seasons), two were key contributors on Stanley Cup winners, and each one has been an impact player for several seasons.
I drew my line in the sand at Patrick Marleau, so it's safe to say that Hall surpassed my expectations offensively. That he did so playing against good opponents while driving the puck in the right direction? Mighty impressive. So what should we expect for next season? Well, let's update the chart for Draft +2 and 20 year-old seasons:
The average gets skewed down a bit because of the lockout eating Rick Nash's 20-year-old season, but this chart should give us a bit of caution as we look ahead to next season. Some players improved substantially compared to the first chart, but others were in more of a holding pattern. Development comes in fits and starts, and that will be important to remember if Hall "just" repeats his rookie season as a sophomore. I've seen comparisons to Steven Stamkos and his 51-goal, 95-point sophomore season in some places, and while I hope that Hall does something similar, I'd say a fully healthy season that sees Hall score sixty points ought to be considered a success; I'm a bit concerned that it'll be considered a disappointment.
Projection: 25 goals and 60 points as Edmonton's top left-winger in 2011-12.