When the TSN panel of hockey experts laid out their roster projections for Team Canada’s men’s ice hockey team that will compete for a gold medal at the upcoming Olympics, Taylor Hall‘s name was not on that list. Was he snubbed by the likes of Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun, Darren Dreger and Ray Ferraro or is it a long shot to think that Hall can make this team.
The four proclaimed experts or hockey insiders as they’re often called, put together what they considered their best projection on what Canada’s roster would like. It’s no surprise to see Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry, Claude Giroux, Rick Nash, Ryan Getzlaf making the cut, just to name a few. Others that could be debatable include Eric Staal, Jeff Carter and Martin St. Louis, bringing up Hall’s chances of being selected.
Team Canada has stated that speed and skill will be a necessity for their roster and that they won’t favor any past loyalties, a mistake that cost them at the last two Olympics that were held on the larger ice surfaces. Speed and skill is exactly what Hall brings to the table, attributes that play right into Team Canada’s game plan.
But as Mark Spector of Sportsnet.ca notes, Hall’s chances of wearing the maple leaf could come down to his defensive play when the NHL regular season kicks off. Spector writes that Hall’s defensive game is considered to be a “work in progress” and any type of liability in a short tournament like the Olympics will not go over well with Steve Yzerman and his brain trust.
Hall has committed to improving that aspect of his game and at just 21-years of age, he should not be crucified for not having a well rounded game at the early stages of his career. Can he he improve enough in his own end when the puck drops in October right through til December when the team is expected to be announced? With the proper coaching and focus, Hall has enough skill and drive to accomplish anything he wants so improving on his defense should be no different.
In the end the roster that TSN put together is nothing more than projections and pure speculation. Injuries will happen across the league during the first three months which will hamper player’s chances while providing opportunity for others. There will be some of the 46 players that were in Calgary for the orientation camp that get off to slow starts this season in what will be the biggest determining factor for Yzerman and his posse when they select their final picks.
Hall’s performance for the first three months will be the ultimate deciding factor on whether he has a chance to make Team Canada or not. There will be plenty of speculation and projections between now and then and while this writer thinks he will make the team, the experts may disagree. The good thing for Hall is that none of them will have a hand in making the final selections, meaning the only that will have a say in whether he makes it or not, is Taylor Hall himself. His performance will do the talking which has to suit the young Oiler just fine.