At the conclusion of Craig MacTavish's most recent interview posted on the Oilers' website he indicated that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may not return to the lineup until the start of November. That timeline would see Nugent-Hopkins miss the first fourteen games of the season nine of which will be played on the road where Dallas Eakins will find it much more difficult to match lines. I think we mostly agree that the Oilers have two bonafide centers. So if you're Dallas Eakins what do you do? There's been some talk of moving Taylor Hall to center in the interim and I can see why this idea is attractive but I don't like it. We know that Taylor Hall has only rarely played center over the last six seasons and we know that other players who have tried to make the transition from wing to center in the recent Oiler past (e.g. Ryan Smyth Fernando Pisani) haven't found it easy. Those growing pains would be worthwhile if this shift was permanent but we know that a shift to center would likely last only until Nugent-Hopkins returned with Hall himself saying exactly that.
Oiler life without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
The Copper & Blue | Sep 13