It’s official. Taylor Hall is now an Oklahoma City Baron. It goes without saying, that this might be the strangest headline I’ve read in the last 5 years in terms of hockey that I follow. Why? Because whodathunk it would ever be a thing we’d discuss. Unless you were a fantastic sports forecaster and saw the NHL lockout happening, this should come as a surprise to you as well.
Now with Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Justin Schultz, and Taylor Hall in AHL sweaters, the stakes seem infinitely higher on two levels.
First, this team SHOULD dominate and SHOULD vie for the Western Conference #1 seed come playoff time. That’s a long time away, and there are a lot of moving parts around the league. However, it should be the goal.
Second, the NHL kids need to stay healthy. Whether that’s through “playing it safe” via a rotation of in-and-out’s during a week-long stretch of games (which is happening this weekend) or it’s by throwing some heavies in the lineup to protect (also happening this weekend). Either way, the typically non-AHLer’s need to be safe, but effective. That might be a delicate line to balance.
This weekend the Barons play a three in three (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). It should be worth watching for many reasons, but now officially it can be because we have Taylor Hall to watch. Unleash the cannonball.
Via the official release at www.okcbarons.com:
The Oklahoma City Barons signed forward Taylor Hall to an American Hockey League contract, Barons General Manager Bill Scott announced today.
Hall, a 5-11, 190-pounder from Calgary, Alberta was the #1 overall selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He made an immediate impact, playing in the NHL at the age of 18. For his NHL career, he has played in 126 games over two seasons, scoring 95 points (49-46-95).
Before being drafted #1 overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Hall played three full seasons with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. With Windsor, he scored 280 points (123-157-280) in only 183 games. Hall’s best season was his final with Windsor when he scored 106 points (40-66-106).
Hall joins fellow first-rounders Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Magnus Paajarvi, Alex Plante, Colten Teubert and Jordan Eberle on the Barons roster. Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle were assigned to Oklahoma City by their parent club, the Edmonton Oilers in mid-September.
“The addition of Taylor Hall to the lineup is boost to the roster,” said Prodigal CEO Bob Funk Jr. “Having two athletes drafted #1 overall playing in Oklahoma City has never happened before. They join a lineup of fantastic athletes our coaches have the opportunity to work with on a daily basis. I believe the sports fan in Oklahoma can relate to the outstanding athletic ability our players have and will increase the value of our games for our fans.”
“Taylor Hall is a very competitive player who has had success in the NHL for two seasons,” said Barons General Manager Bill Scott. “With Taylor coming off his shoulder injury from last season, it is important for him to continue to play hockey as he is still in his prime development years. We know that he will be a great fit here in OKC and we look forward to adding him to our lineup.”
Hall and Nugent-Hopkins are the seventh and eighth athletes that have been selected #1 overall in their particular sport and played professionally for a team in Oklahoma City. They will join baseball players Josh Hamilton, Adrian Gonzalez and Kris Benson and hockey players Barry Gibbs, Rick Pagnutti and Bob Neely as #1 overall selections to play professionally in Oklahoma City. The pair will be the first to play on the same team at the same time.