Taylor or Tyler?
By Steve Kendall
The big topic discussion, especially in Edmonton and Boston, has been: Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin?
The Taylor/Tyler debate has been ongoing for almost a year in Canada, though Hall appeared to take a major leap forward when he had an excellent World Junior tournament after Seguin was cut from the squad. However, Seguin took over the top spot in the final Central Scouting Bureau rankings after winning the OHL scoring title. But Hall has all the hype his way now after leading his team to a second straight Memorial Cup title, winning his second straight MVP award.
Hall has the flashy highlight goals, the hype, and the number (4 for Bobby Orr), but if I had the top pick, I’d take Tyler Seguin, and here’s why:
1. Seguin has proven he can perform with less: Look at the rosters of Windsor (Hall’s team) and Plymouth (Seguin’s team). Windsor has several guys who will be drafted tonight, most notably Cam Fowler. Though Plymouth has some solid guys, there’s no one at Seguin’s level. Despite that, he still managed 48 goals and 58 assists in 63 games, winning the OHL scoring title (he had more goals than Hall, who ended with 40-66-106).
2. Determination: Hall has been highly-touted for awhile, but Seguin didn’t start gaining attention until this time last year. He clearly has an outstanding work ethic, demonstrated by his rise up the junior ranks (he was the ninth selection in the OHL draft two years ago) and his ability to not only block out the entire “Tyler vs. Taylor” debate, but also not allow being cut from the Canadian World Junior team to affect his play. If anything, it made him better.
3. Hockey sense: Many scouts have said that Seguin has the highest hockey IQ of any player in recent memory. He can adjust his style of play to the pace of the game, and is just as good at starting the play in the defensive and neutral zones as he is at finishing around the net. He wins face-offs, blocks shots, and grinds in the corners and behind the net.
4. Two-way play: As good as Seguin is offensively, he may be even better defensively. The best all-around NHL players (Yzerman, Datysuk, Trottier, Gretzky, Crosby) are good at both ends of the ice. Many players need to develop this as they mature (Yzerman) and some never develop it. Seguin already possesses this skill, and it will make him a tremendous asset.
5. Leadership: Sure Hall has two Memorial Cups and two MVPs, but Seguin led his team to the playoffs without the support system. He showed tremendous maturity and mental toughness dealing with the World Junior snub, and appears to be physically stronger on the ice – even though Seguin is listed as the same size as Hall (6-1, 185).
Hall is a tremendous offensive threat and will likely score a lot of highlight film goals for Edmonton or Boston. There is no question he will be a top-level NHL scorer. However, if I am trying to build a team that can win, I want a guy who can play like that at both ends of the ice. Seguin may not score the flashy goals, but he does score. He also knows the importance of strong play in the defensive and neutral zones now. Hall still needs to develop that.
So if I had the top pick, I’m taking Tyler Seguin, who is a complete player right now. My bet is Edmonton grabs Hall, leaving Seguin, who I think will be the next Steve Yzerman, to Boston.
(Steve Kendall lives in Massachusetts and has been covering hockey for 18 years. He is involved with youth, high school, and college hockey, as well as the United States ball hockey program.)