SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers' pool of talent

Oilers (left to right) Jeff Petry, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins celebrate a...

Oilers (left to right) Jeff Petry, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins celebrate a goal during a pre-season game at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Sep. 27, 2011 (PERRY NELSON/QMI Agency)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:34 AM ET

EDMONTON - It’s a Canadian phenomenon which includes an incredible percentage of the populace at this time of year.

“Every second person I see is telling me they’ve got me in their hockey pool and to get a lot of goals and assists this year,” said Taylor Hall. “One guy even told me to get some penalty minutes, too.”

Hall, who had 22 goals and 42 points before he injured an ankle in a fight and missed the final 16 games of the season, figures he can beat whatever last year’s numbers were projected to be if he hadn’t been hurt.

“If I play well, I think I can. The way I prepared, I think I will. I certainly want to have better totals. I think it’s important to improve every year.

“I honestly don’t have a number I’m shooting for this year. But I’m hoping we all have better numbers this year. It’s important for the team, for the guys who are expected to produce the offence, to produce more than we did last year.”

Jordan Eberle, the Oilers leading scorer in his rookie year with 18 goals and 43 points, says he’s getting similar ‘Got you in the pool’ talk from fans, too.

“It was just yesterday I was doing the same thing. It seems weird to be one of the players they’re picking in their pool when two years ago I was the one picking players in a pool.”

Eberle, like Hall, says he hasn’t picked a number he hopes to hit this year.

“I kind of have the attitude that if the team has success, you’re going to have individual success. If we can make the playoffs, I think we can all have pretty good numbers.”

Magnus Paajarvi said the whole phenomenon of the pools was one of the eye-openers for him last year.

“We have them over in Sweden, too. I played in a town of 80,000, not a million. And in Sweden, there were just some people in a pool, not just about everybody.

“It is still strange getting use to people coming up to me and saying I have to score a lot because they’ve got me in their pool.”

And what does he tell them?

“I don’t say I’m going to get 40 goals and 40 assists I say that for sure. I want to be better than last year. But you always want to do better than last year,” said the player who scored 15 goals and produced 34 points in his rookie season.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, this year’s No. 1 pick in the draft, is starting the season on a line with Hall, last year’s No. 1 pick in the draft, and Ales Hemsky, still the Oilers No. 1 player until proven otherwise. He’ll also be on the first power-play unit.

You’d figure that gives him a good change of hitting the score sheet in his first NHL game. But his best friend, Steven Iacobellis, told him he’s picked him No. 1 overall in his draft.

“I can’t even think about stuff like how many points I’m going to get. I’m just trying to go out and play the best team game I can from game to game.”

Bodog.com has some interesting over/under numbers on the Oilers.

Taylor Hall: 55.5

Jordan Eberle: 53.5

Ales Hemsky: 46.5

Linus Omark: 45.5

Ryan Whitney: 44.5

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 43.5

Ryan Smyth: 39.5

Magnus Paajarvi: 38.5

“I hope I can get more than that,” said Hall of getting 56 points to hit the ‘over.’ “That’s about the same number as last year pro-rated if I’d played all 82 games.

“You look at that list and it looks like they’re projecting the whole team not to do a whole lot of scoring.”

Paajarvi doesn’t like the number 38.5 beside his name.

“I want to prove them wrong. I want to do more than that for sure.”

Ryan Smyth doesn’t much like his 39.5 number, either.

“If I stay healthy, work hard and chip in, I’d like to prove them wrong.”

The only guy who doesn’t mind his number, 43.5, is Nugents-Hopkins.

“I’d take that for my first year in the NHL.”

Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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