Analytics Advantage: Hall’s Kitchen

by Matt Cane with Rob Vollman on October 4, 2015

Matt Cane and Rob Vollman have devised a system to project a player's future performance by finding players with common statistics historically (Vollman, on the left) and in the modern day (Cane, on the right). This article is part of a series to introduce readers to their system, and to demonstrate how it can give you an edge in fantasy hockey.

Taylor Hall, the first overall selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, scored just 38 points last year, in 53 games. The next two forwards drafted, Tyler Seguin and Ryan Johansen, scored 77 and 71 points, respectively. Did the Oilers slip up?

Looking at a group of similar players throughout history (on the left) or using more modern analytics (on the right) can sometimes shed some light on a confusing projection. It can help define lower and upper bounds for Hall's goals, assists, and points totals, and specific matches can help isolate a specific course.


Rob's Take: I'm big on Taylor Hall. He's an incredible playmaker, especially on the power play, and he can probably bag 30 goals, too. Furthermore, he can be slotted against top opponents, and has good possession numbers. Plus, he's hitting his prime, and could get some serious playing time with Connor McDavid.

His historical comparables suggest that Hall will immediately re-establish himself as a point-a-game player. Even the worst case comparables, like Matt Duchene and Bobby Smith, were incredible offensive talents, who just happened to temporarily find themselves on weak lines and/or teams.

While that could certainly be the case once again in Edmonton, just look at the talent on that list, not all of whom played on great teams. Marcel Dionne and Denis Savard were both among the leading scorers of their day, even once adjusted for the different scoring levels. Add in more recent examples like Patrick Kane and Ryan Getzlaf, and there's ample precedent for a breakout season.

Admittedly, drafting Hall too early is a bit of a risk, given his team's perceived weakness, and his history with injuries. But, I see Hall as a player who will contend for the Art Ross trophy at some point soon, especially with Connor McDavid by his side. He's gold in keeper pool, and a decent (albeit late) first round choice in a one-year league.

Matt’s Take: Over his 5 seasons in the NHL, Taylor Hall has more or less been the lone bright spot on a series of perennially poor Oilers teams. With future phenom Connor McDavid set to enter the Edmonton lineup, all that may be changing, and Hall may finally make the finally shake the “good player on a bad team” label that he’s been stuck with for the majority of his career to date. His historical and modern comparables certainly suggest that he’s got the skills to be amongst the leagues best – whether he becomes Patrick Kane, Marcel Dionne, or Corey Perry, the Oilers and fantasy owners would have no complaints. Both lists are littered with superstars and with a best case scenario above a point per game in each projection system, it’s easy to see why Hall should be in high demand in the upcoming year.

The one comparison that has most excited me for the player Hall might become long term, however, is Phil Kessel from 2011-2012, his fourth-closest modern counterpart. While Kessel had posted strong numbers before that year, the pre-lockout season was the campaign he established himself as a player to be feared, someone who seemed to be able to score on a whim and was always a threat to take over a game at a moment’s notice. Kessel drove that Leafs team, which, save for some atrocious goaltending, was actually one of the better clubs in recent Buds history. Even beyond that year, Kessel remained the one player you had to watch out for when you played Toronto, someone who nearly single-handedly kept the Leafs from being an offensive laughing stock year after year (up until the midway point of last season, at least).

Hall has had a similar career to Kessel’s prior to that breakout year – although he’s certainly shown his enormous raw talent over the past half-decade, much of it has gone unnoticed as he toiled away on a club that’s drafted first overall four times in the past six years. While Hall isn’t going to post the same goal scoring numbers that Phil has throughout his career, his playmaking skills are far superior, and he should be just as fun to watch. More importantly, he’ll be just as capable of taking over a game on his own and terrorizing opponents in the West as Phil is. Taylor Hall is just about to enter the peak years of his career, with a supporting cast that should be hitting their prime right alongside him, and a once in a generation talent up the middle, the former first overall pick could be looking at the start of a long productive stretch.

For complete projections on over 700 active NHL players, Vollman and Cane Historical Projections 2015 is available exclusively through the Dobber store for just $4.99 – or it's free if you bought the Fantasy Guide using the coupon code on page 151!