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Hall thinks Oilers breakout is imminent

Oct 17, 2013, 9:01 AM EDT

Taylor Hall Getty Images

The Edmonton Oilers, with three recent first overall picks on the squad, went into the 2013-14 campaign with the goal of taking the leap from rebuilding to competing for a playoff spot. Instead, they’re in the Western Conference basement with a 1-5-1 record, but that hasn’t crushed the team’s spirit.

“I remember playing Columbus last year at about the 20-game mark and they were a team that was well below .500 but you could tell they were a team that was playing well and about to make a charge,” Taylor Hall told the Edmonton Sun.

“I feel like we’re on that verge. We’re sticking with teams that have a lot of skill and we’re working just as hard as them. I have a different feel with this group.”

The Columbus Blue Jackets are an interesting comparison. That team started 5-12-4 last season and finished with a 24-17-7 record, but their breakout was courtesy of a strong defense and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Until that point, goaltending had been an ongoing issue for Columbus as they got glimmers of hope from Steve Mason following his rookie season, but not much else.

The Oilers need a similar defensive and goaltending transformation, but they can’t count on Devan Dubnyk or Jason LaBarbera winning the Vezina Trophy. Still, one way or another, if they can get solid goaltending for any extended stretch, the Oilers might start looking very good.

  1. hockey412 - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    I was really impressed watching them vs. the Pens this week. They reminded me of the Islanders in some ways as far as the team speed and willingness to pressure the puck. Hall looks great – Eberle looks amazing. Didn’t notice RNH the entire game (not to take anything away from him though). Goaltending needs some help (also like the Islanders)…St. Louis, Anaheim have the extra goaltenders now, but doubt they’d deal in-conference.

    • jpelle82 - Oct 17, 2013 at 10:11 AM

      yeah not sure how many minutes rnh played but the pens announcers said his name maybe once and i didnt see him even touch the puck. i bet ownership is glad they hurried up and gave him that monster extension. they shouldve been scratching him instead of yakapov. eberle (the lowest drafted one of the 4) is a head above the rest of them as far as skill is concerned with hall in a close second. they need to fix the goaltending and figure out one more defensive defensman and they should be good soon. until then, all that speed and skill up front is going to go to waste.

  2. stepanup - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    Just like the Blue Jackets, without the Vezina goalie, defensive depth and tough two way skaters. They’ll be drafting in the lottery, again.

  3. billyhauntswizards - Oct 17, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    lol yeah right. No goalie, no defense, no grit. Another lottery year for this team, sorry.

  4. 950003cups - Oct 17, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    Taylor Hall? LOL

    Did it go something like this?

    “This team reminds me of the time when the Oilers were in trouble and we signed a kid from the WHL, I think his name was Juan Gradsko? Well, thats when things turned around. I’ve been around for a long time, and when I see a team about to break through to the next level, I know. Let me tell you, in all my years, I’ve never been so sure”

  5. malvaren18 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    The only reason Hall is feeling that way probably has to do with that huge contract he just sign and not with the reality that the Oilers are Doom for another mediocre season.

  6. flash8910 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    I remember the days of being young and stupid…maybe ignorant is a better word.

    The make up of the Oilers is terrible. They are top heavy with tons of money sunk into their top 2 lines. To say “top”, I almost have to hold back laughter. They have some young talent with a lot of upside, but the sample size is too small to say these are bona fide NHL stars. Hall and Eberle make more than their entire defensive corp. Gagner has never gotten more than 50 points, and is close to a $5 mil cap hit. Then there is Yakupov, who over handles the puck, and hates to forecheck. Like there are a lot of room on NHL teams for forwards, who hate to forecheck.

    If the Oilers are serious about competing in the near (rather than later) future, then they need to seriously consider making some moves. Time for some of these 1st round picks to be moved for a proven veteran forward and defenseman. A proven goalie may not be a bad idea either.

  7. jason9696 - Oct 17, 2013 at 10:59 PM

    Devan Dubnyk or Jason LaBarbera are not going to put any fear in teams that are playing the Oilers.

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