Curtis Hall, C
Boston’s 3rd choice (4th round), 119th overall in 2018 NHL Entry Draft
Current team: Yale Bulldogs (ECAC)
Previous team: Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
Strengths: Right-shot center has excellent height and length. Very good skater who shows off impressive burst and agility for his size; has a powerful, fluid stride that allows him to separate in open ice, but he can also make quick turns and cuts to adjust his angles and instantly change routes. His shot is a strength: Sneaky release that he effectively uses in traffic and space to find the back of the net. Hides his release point well on a powerful snap that is heavy and accurate. Above average puck skills and is developing into a scoring threat into the NCAA after leading the Bulldogs offensively at just a hair under a point-per-game (17 goals, 27 points in 28 games as a sophomore). Intelligent pivot who is able to slip in behind defenders but also tracks back on plays headed to his own end. Developing into an all-around player with the blossoming offense.
Weaknesses: Even with the impressive height, lacks the functional strength to go with his frame- he’s lanky and prone to getting knocked off balance by shorter, stockier opponents. Has shown more of a willingness to embrace the physicality of college hockey that wasn’t always there in his junior days, but still has room to add element of grit/sandpaper to make himself a tougher opponent to play against. Need to see more tenacity and want to on the forecheck.
Overall analysis: Former Cleveland-area product and USHL tender agreement player (signed with Youngstown at age 16- guaranteed to play in minimum of 55% of games as a rookie) who spent two seasons with the Phantoms, wasn’t able to statistically provide the offensive pop that his junior team hoped for. Hall was a complementary junior player in his two years as one of the younger skaters, but the USHL is an older league, so he likely would have “popped” as an 18-19-year-old points driver had he stayed a third year with Youngstown after the B’s chose him. After playing sparingly as a freshman, Hall emerged as the most consistent and dangerous scoring threat on the Yale roster in 19-20, also making the USA World Jr. Championship team. He can use his speed to drive wide and beat defenders outside to take pucks to the front of the net. While playing a physical, gritty style of game doesn’t come natural to Hall, he’s not unwilling to play in between the dots where most of the battles are won and lost- he just needs time and patience to mature physically and gain playing experience. When he uses his speed and pace effectively, he’s tough to defend and contain, but it’s always been about a consistent application of those elements in his game than make him the most dangerous. A strong start in his draft season, followed by a tapering off in the second half and middle-of-the-road playoff production when the Phantoms reached the 2018 USHL Clark Cup championship series (losing to the Fargo Force), saw his stock fall, leading to his selection in the fourth round.
Projection: Hall is an interesting prospect who is another in a growing stable of bigger forwards who can skate and bring enough skill/talent to the table that could see positive growth into serviceable NHL contributions down the road. He’s got the potential to be a Swiss Army knife kind of center who can play an effective 200-foot game, but who also has enough snap and flash in his game to contribute offensively. When you’re talking about a fourth-round draft selection, that’s a solid return on investment- 3rd or 4th liner who can play up and down the roster. Remember- he was at one time thought of as one of the better players in his 2000-birthyear USA peer group, and he proved that trend by cracking the WJC roster last December. The best may be yet to come for Hall, especially if he continues to raise the production and can develop more grit/tenacity in his approach to every shift.
ECAC video of a 2-goal game for Hall vs Union
Fox Sports Ohio video on Hall prior to WJC in Dec. 2019