By Mike Miccoli, Boston Bruins correspondent
In a perfect world, the Edmonton Oilers select Tyler Seguin with their number one pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. That leaves the Boston Bruins to select Taylor Hall number two. Hall goes on to sign a multi-year deal with the Bruins, wear number 14, and slide right into the winger position on line with either skilled playmaker, Marc Savard or David Krejci. Hall scores 30+ goals in his first year, wins the Calder Trophy and leads Boston to their first Stanley Cup since 1972 causing all Bostonians to have a memory lapse on whether a player named Phil Kessel actually ever played here.
As you might be able to tell, I’ve been playing this scenario out now for the past few weeks.
The problem is that this whole plan is contingent on the Oilers drafting Seguin first overall. If the Oilers choose Hall, the Bruins are stuck with four centers on the depth chart and may be forced to adapt one to the wing, or potentially trading one away. This leads to not only the ‘who goes?’ question but also whether or not Boston would be able to embrace the notion that they might not be able to have Hall–a name fans have been spoon-fed since the draft lottery on April 13.
It’s hard to determine just who the better player really is. Hall and Seguin sat tied atop the stats for leading scorer in the OHL. Both finished with 106 points: Hall with 40 goals and 66 assists and Seguin with 48 goals and 58 helpers. The biggest difference was that Hall’s Windsor Spitfires were second-best in the OHL with the best record in the Western Conference while Seguin’s Plymouth Whalers finished fourth in the same Conference and seventh overall. Seguin was performing just as well as Hall but on a lesser team. When the two met in the Conference quarterfinals, Hall’s Spitfires swept Seguin and the Whalers, going on to win the J. Ross Robertson Cup.
The Bruins need goal scorers but they also need some depth on the wing. Seguin may have eight more goals, but Hall has highlight reel goals. Such as this.
Tyler Seguin has a tough act to follow especially after Bruins legend Bobby Orr has come out and said that he wants Taylor Hall to be selected by the Bruins. Although truthfully, drafting Seguin isn’t as big of a letdown as it may seem. Seguin was named the recipent of the Red Tilson Trophy this season for being the most outstanding player in the OHL. The B’s have a connection to past recipients seeing as three other winners have been on the Boston roster in the last ten years: Jason Allison, Andrew Raycroft and Brad Boyes. The guy also had 106 points in the regular season, come on now.
But the fact remains, Seguin’s position is as a natural center. Unless Claude Julien can convert Seguin to the wing, the logjam at center continues with prospects Zach Hamill and Joe Colborne still waiting their turn for their shot in the bigs.
It’s not a debate on whether Hall is the better player but rather what the needs are of the Bruins. Right now, Hall is what this team craves: a winger who can battle it out in the corners, stun opposing defenders with his moves and point blankly, score. Name me two wingers not named Mark Recchi (42 years of age, thanks) who did that at all last season for the Bruins. Stumped?
Hall has been boasted as a natural leader, Seguin has comparisons to Steve Yzerman to back him up. This one comes down to what Boston needs right now, not who.
The NHL Draft is five days away and there still is not a clear cut number one pick. Good, I say, since it’s great for the sport but even better for Bruins fans. The buzz around Boston, a city that hasn’t seen a pick this high since the B’s drafted Joe Thornton first overall in 1996, is electric. Here is Boston’s chance to acquire a clear-cut presence that could potentially be the face of the team for years to come. The biggest question is will be it Taylor or Tyler?