SUN Hockey Pool

Hall injury halts Calder push

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:57 AM ET

Taylor Hall lost more than a fight last week when he decided to drop the gloves with Derek Dorsett.

The season-ending ankle sprain he suffered at the conclusion of the tilt also scrapped any chance the Edmonton Oilers stud had at winning the Calder Trophy.

However, Oilers GM Steve Tambellini does make one solid argument as to why his franchise player should still be considered for NHL rookie-of-the-year honours.

“No disrespect to anyone, but I haven’t seen anyone at that age take over NHL games like he has this year,” Tambellini said.

“The last three months he has taken over hockey games as a 19 year old. I believe he would have caught and surpassed the top rookie scorers.”

The ever-impressive Jeff Skinner, 18, is still the Calder favourite amongst skaters by virtue of his rookie-leading 49 points (23 goals) and the fact he plays in the east, where most voters reside. Hall has 42 points and one less goal.

However, the rookie who has had the biggest impact on his team this year is unquestionably Chicago Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford, who saved the Stanley Cup champions from the deficiencies of Marty Turco to get them back into a playoff spot. His numbers (a 26-12-3 record, a 2.19 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage) are all amongst league leaders.

John Carlson, Brad Marchand, Sergei Bobrovsky, P.K. Subban, Cam Fowler and Logan Couture are also worthy candidates to round out the top three, but at this point, it’s a two-man race between Crawford, 26, and Skinner.

So, is Tambellini angry his star player ventured into the perilous fight game with just two bouts in junior under his belt?

“If you look at the makeup of Taylor Hall and why he was drafted where he was, his skill and talent are obvious, but what is also obvious is his compete level — it’s off the charts,” said the GM who picked Hall first overall last summer.

“Would I rather have him taking pucks end to end and setting things up rather than getting into a scrap? Sure. But you can’t take away the emotion of the game. He’s not a player who is afraid of the pressure to be the guy to score or pressure to be part of a physical game. There’s no fear in this kid.”

Now for more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering if Charlie Sheen is just doing his best Sean Avery impression.

Around the horn

Following a two-year absence, Alex Ovechkin is back on Twitter. One of his first orders of business was to post the photo he took at the all-star draft of Phil Kessel being drafted last overall. His accompanying tweet read, simply: “hahahhaahhaa.” Turns out the joke is really on Ovie, as Kessel’s 27 goals are two more than the struggling Caps captain has potted … If Calgary Flames winger Rene Bourque was with the Nashville Predators, he’d be the club’s leading scorer with just 41 points. Incredible that heading into last night’s game in Calgary, Preds defenceman Shea Weber led the team with a mere 39 points yet the team is still very much in playoff contention. Meanwhile, Bourque is the Flames fifth-leading scorer … High praise from Predators GM David Poile for Jerred Smithson, a class act who has played more NHL games than any other Calgary Hitmen grad — “He’s low maintenance. I can’t remember him doing anything unprofessional. I don’t want to say you build a franchise around him, but he’s the kind of player you want as a supporting player to build your franchise around.”

Parting shots

Man, do I wish Charlie Sheen played hockey … If you’re like me, your eyes generally glaze over at the mere mention of the Phoenix Coyotes’ battle to stay in Arizona. However, it’s time to perk up, as those close to the situation tell me a move to Winnipeg could be confirmed as early as the next two weeks if the bond sales issues aren’t resolved. Should the Coyotes stay, the Atlanta Thrashers are ripe for a move. Either way, for better or worse, Winnipeg could very likely be back on the NHL map next year.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ericfrancis

Eric Francis appears regularly as a panellist on The Hotstove on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada


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