There's a lot of questions that need to be answered about which player the Edmonton Oilers will choose 1st overall at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Split into categories of the offensive, defensive and intangibles, I try to help explain their differences.
Now, everyone raves about Taylor Hall's pure sniping abilities, but it is clear that Tyler Seguin, who scored 48 goals this season, is no slouch in the shooting department. That comes out to about 20% of Plymouth's total offense. Hall's 40 goals comes out to about 12 percent of WIndsor's total offense.
But those stats are probably a bit misleading, since both players have racked up a ton of assists as well that help the team win. More on that later.
Now, Hall has a history of scoring a lot of goals. He has since before he hit the OHL. Seguin most recently gained attention this season as his previous OHL goal-scoring high was 21 goals.
Now, this can be interpreted in two ways.
1. Hall has a history of showing he is a consistent goal-scorer
2. Seguin is a player who is continuing to improve whereas Hall is running-in-place in terms of shooting ability
It is hard to see if one of these is truer than the other, or whether both are false.
We will need a bit more analysis to understand these two players. But right now, there is no distinct advantage as both players are capable snipers but neither player is a running away with their ability to score.
On to playmaking.
With the kind of attention that Hall gets from playing in the World Juniors and the Memorial Cup, it is no wonder that Hall gets a lot of attention as a guy who has a reputation for making players around him better.
This year, he has worked hard at improving his passing and playmaking abilities as he doesn't want to be known only as a sniper or a shooter.
Good for him. He racked up 66 assists to Seguin's 58 assists this year.
However, consider that playmaking is a team-oriented activity. There's a difference between keeping the puck and shooting it, which is primarily based on an individual's ability to shoot and/or get into the dangerous areas where they can be open for a pass.
On a team like Windsor Spitfires and the Canadian World Junior Squad, there are always players readily available to receive Hall's passes and plays. These skilled players get into the dangerous areas, whether Adam Henrique or Ryan Ellis, and as a result, Hall gets chances to showcase his obvious skill.
Seguin, who was not selected for Team Canada at the World Juniors, played on a much weaker Whalers team. When it comes to a question of whether he can make those around him better, the answer also is yes.
Hall had 8 more assists than Seguin on a much better team with more offensive weapons in a year when he was focused on improving his passing.
Both Hall and Seguin may or may not continue to focus on their playmaking abilities in the future.
But what is abundantly clear is that neither player has a clear edge as it is not truly fair to say that Hall and Seguin have played on teams with differential abilities.
If the players had been in similar situations it would be easier to gauge.
Until then, this category is also a tie.
Now here's a category that doesn't consider the quality of teammates.
Regardless of whether Hall or Seguin plays on a better team, Hall has garnered quite the reputation for backchecking and getting into the shooting lanes. He blocks shots, plays on the PK and forechecks like he means it.
Seguin is also used in PK and defensive situations as well for the Whalers.
But he is not a distinguished defensive player the way Hall is.
Whether in the offensive zone or in the defensive zone, Hall has shown to be the kind of hustle all coaches love to preach. His speed lends itself well to both his dangerous offensive bursts as well as to his ability to catch opposition forwards on the transition back into the defensive zone.
Seguin receives an honorable mention here as well, as he has been quoted as having very apt and improving defensive abilities (as required by a playmaking center).
But there is no denying that despite playing on a very good team, Hall's success is due in no small part to his hard work on every shift and his hustle in all zones on the ice.
He's not Windsor's Memorial Cup MVP by accident.
While not gifted with the same speed and agility as Taylor Hall, Seguin has been given amazing hockey smarts and solid positioning. Whereas Hall achieves a lot of his success through speed and pure physical domination, Seguin is a cerebral player who has carried his Whalers on back all season by using the tools God gave him.
It is no wonder that everyone talks about Seguin's ability to inspire and lead, though leadership is probably a separate trait altogether.
In terms of on-ice and off-ice vision, the advantage goes to Seguin.
Both Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall have been known to take a hit to make the play which is a good starting point for future leaders. However, there has been criticism that Hall has been known to keep his head down and as a result be demolished by defenders and some fear he may face the same fat as Eric Lindros in the future. However, this is somewhat unfair as Seguin himself has been knocked over a good many times himself despite being a cerebral, positional type of player.
When you're as skilled as Hall and Seguin, it's bound to happen.
What's more important, I believe, is whether as capable leaders Hall and Seguin will learn and improve at the next level to protect themselves. Their success and ability to overcome adversity is what teams look for in leaders. If one main criticism of Hall's leadership ability is his tendency to be hammered while admiring his own deke moves, then an equivalent criticism of Seguin is his (thus far) inability to lead his team during the OHL playoffs.
Both criticisms are equally valid and equally contextual.
In the NHL, Seguin will be given a better supporting cast, and perhaps he will be able to showcase his abilities better. For Hall, having less time and space than in the OHL may in fact work to his advantage as he will spend more time trying to score than looking for the beautiful play.
The most important consideration here is that both players always look for ways to improve and continue to improve, despite what a lot of pundits are saying about them.
Who knows? In the future, Seguin's improvements in athleticism may lead him to become to superior skater and Hall's adjustments to his offensive game may earn him praise for thinking the game better.
Neither fate is set in stone and neither captain—whether Hall for the Spitfires or Seguin for the Whalers - has been faced with a situation where they had failed to live up to expectations.
Hall was expected to repeat as a Memorial Cup MVP.
Seguin was not expected to oust the Spitfires, and certainly not singlehandedly. Does that make his playoff performance any less disappointing? Maybe and maybe not.
Some analysts give the nod in character to Hall. But on what grounds? I think Seguin deserves some props for sticking with the program in Plymouth and succeeding DESPITE ADVERSITY. Though I think it takes some major cojones to take the hits that Hall does and come back to score, but that doesn't necessarily give a good judgment of character as opposed to how tough an individual is.
As long as both players continue to show commitment to improvement the way they have done - full marks for both.
Right now, without a doubt, the Best-Player-Available (BPA) is Taylor Hall.
A lot of scouts say Tyler Seguin is the better player down the road, but in truth there is never really a way to guarantee that. When both players are the same size and weight, and have similar abilities in shooting and passing, you have to look to the intangibles.
Seguin is a late bloomer and Hall has always been a proven talent.
Both players are continuously improving various areas of their game and perhaps both will be franchise players and perhaps neither.
It comes down to an organizational choice.
Often times people criticize drafting for need but unless the BPA is a clear-cut decision, you need to consider it.
Which player's style fits into your team mold?
The cerebral Seguin or the hustling Hall?
All things considered, Hall has the slight edge as BPA. Can Seguin catch up? Does what he represent make up for the advantages in speed and strength that Hall possesses?
Only time will tell.