Off the top of the head: Curtis Hall

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

Bruins Prospect of the Week 2: Curtis Hall

Back with the next installment of BPOW- figured it makes sense to alternate between more advanced/mature, more NHL-ready guys and those who are further away from competing for spots in the big show.

This week, we focus on 2018 fourth-rounder Curtis Hall, who spent the last two seasons playing for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL.

(Video clip of an early-season 2-goal game from Curtis Hall vs the Central Illinois Flying Aces, posted on YouTube by HockeyDraftCentral)

Background Summary

The B’s grabbed the Cleveland (Chagrin Falls), Ohio native in the fourth round, 119th overall in the June NHL draft, adding an intriguing if long-term option at center.

Although born in New Jersey, Hall was raised in the Buckeye State, spending 8 years with the Cleveland Barons minor hockey program before he signed a USHL tender with Youngstown in 2016. USHL teams are allowed to recruit and sign a maximum two exceptional “futures” players (must be 16 in their respective futures draft year) rather than wait for the draft and hope those players are available to them when their draft turns come. In exchange for signing tender players, teams surrender their 1st-round futures draft pick (and second in the event the team signs two tender players). The catch is- tender players must play a minimum of 55 percent of their USHL team’s games at age 16, and cannot be traded at any time during that first season after agreeing to the tender.

Hall played 59 of Youngstown’s 60 games in 2016-17, scoring 7 goals and 21 points while being broken in slowly. He nearly doubled his goal total to 13 in his second USHL season, but did not quite have the anticipated production and impact, cooling off after a hot start. Hall did have an effective Clark Cup playoff performance, helping lead Youngstown to the championship series with wins over the Dubuque Fighting Saints (3-0 series sweep) and U.S. NTDP Under-17 team (3-1) before falling to the Fargo Force in a 3 games to 1 loss.

Prior to his first USHL campaign, Hall committed to Yale University, and he will begin his freshman season in New Haven this coming fall. He also participated in the U.S. Junior Hockey Showcase in Kamloops, and was among the first roster cuts, but could be in good position to earn a spot for the 2020 World Junior Championship USA squad.

Talent analysis

Hall has impressive pro tools- he’s 6-foot-3, and about 200 pounds with room to add mass onto his lanky frame. He’s got length and good athletic ability. This is not to say he’s a physical player who embraces contact, but Hall has the natural size and strength to get to the net and power through traffic.

With a fluid, powerful stride, Hall can drive wide with speed in the open ice, forcing defenders to backpedal. When Hall comes down your side with a full head of steam, your footwork had better be flawless- he can slip a stick check and go right to the net because he’s so fast and powerful. His first couple of steps could improve- because of his size, he can get a little exposed in the short-area game where agile and quick stops/starts and initial explosiveness are critical, but this is a quibble. As far as his skating goes, Hall is on the higher end of the spectrum and will be noticeable for his ability to play with speed especially when he is in space.

We’ve seen some reports questioning Hall’s hockey IQ, but disagree with that- he reads the play and anticipates well, often getting himself in position to receive breakout passes or return to his own zone to deny opponents time and space in the middle of the ice. He’s not a playmaking offensive center who is dynamic and creative, as much as he’s a smart, efficient 200-foot guy and former pro hockey player’s son who has good habits.

Hall possesses a pro-caliber shot and release- the puck comes off his stick in a blur and is hard/heavy and accurate. He’s a legitimate threat to finish off plays when he uses his large frame to get inside position and establish a netfront presence. While not overly skilled with the puck/able to dangle through a maze of sticks, he’s a serviceable offensive player who is a capable two-way presence who projects to be either a third- or fourth-line pivot eventually.

2018-19 projection

Hall joins the Yale Bulldogs and expectations here are that he will break in gradually as he adjusts to the faster pace and older players he’ll face in the ECAC. Because he has the reputation as a two-way player, he’ll put himself in position to earn more playing time depending on the transition from junior to NCAA D1 hockey.

Fans should not expect big numbers in his first year, but those who take the time to watch Yale games can best gauge Hall’s progress and development by looking at his ice time and what situations he’s playing in. Internet scouting is not going to cut it- we’re not looking at an elite offensive talent here- so temper the expectations and be patient, as Hall is probably a three-years at Yale minimum player, possibly all four.

Curtis Hall factoids

Curtis Hall’s father, Michael, is a former pro hockey player- he spent four years at Bowling Green State University and was a member of the ECHL’s Trenton Titans when the younger Hall was born during the 1999-00 season. Mike Hall played 18 games with the Providence Bruins in 2000-01.

Played in the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (now the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup), the 2017 All-American Prospects Game, 2017 World Jr. A Challenge, and 2018 USHL Top Prospects Game in Kearney, Nebraska- checking all the boxes for pre-draft showcase events during the 2017-18 season.

Even though Hall had already signed his tender with Youngstown, he was invited to and attended the U.S. NTDP 40-man camp in spring 2016. Former Bruins scout and current Chicago Steel GM Ryan Hardy was then the NTDP’s Director of Player Personnel and extended the invitation to Hall.

Was also drafted by the OHL’s Flint Firebirds in the 10th round of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.




3 Amigos Podcast: Bruins summer update- free agency, draft & rumors


Thanks to the requests of multiple blog readers, the 3 Amigos decided to reunite in the offseason and last night, the boys did a solid 70+ minutes worth of hockey talk focusing on the Boston Bruins.

While we won’t be as prolific on the blog as before, this is an opportunity to maintain the connection with those passionate fans who helped support us from 2015 to late summer 2017, when the blog went dormant due to job obligations. The truth is- being at the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas served as a good reminder that you can’t completely walk away from that which you have done for the past 18 years. It was summer 2000 when the New England Hockey Journal hired TSP founder Kirk to cover the Bruins, and after covering nearly every draft since then (minus those when overseas), it was strange not to be working at this most recent draft.

Still- am grateful for all the words of support and encouragement, and fortunate to have two good friends in Dom and Reed who agreed to get the Amigos back together and do some more audio work. The best part of it was just being able to interact with them again, and we have some more things in store for future efforts.

So, enough of the background- here’s the audio file and will post it up on Soundcloud as well.

For those who want to download and listen on Soundcloud, go here:


Recapping the Bruins’ draft & free agent signings

Okay, so we’re a little behind here, but wanted to do a blog post on the Boston Bruins most recent transactions, which includes the 2018 NHL Entry Draft in Dallas  and free agency, which opened with a boom on Sunday for the Toronto Maple Leafs, landing a true crown jewel in John Tavares, who leaves the NY Islanders in his prime (not yet 28) for his childhood team. The Bruins were in it as a possible Tavares destination, but in hindsight, it was probably the Isles or the Leafs and everyone else didn’t really have a shot. That’s life, but more on that later.

And, if the Isles need some comforting, they had what looks to be a successful draft, leveraging multiple first-round picks and value throughout the subsequent rounds into an impressive haul for them.

First up, the B’s draft recap:

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