Neither Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall will be receiving the Calder Trophy in Las Vegas this summer. Rookie of the Year honors will likely go to the Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner, who had 63 points (31 goals and 32 assists) in 82 games.
Who saw that coming? This was indeed a freshman season that the top two picks of 2010 NHL draft soon rather forget.
In the Tyler-Taylor Mid Season Report, Taylor Hall was progressing nicely in Edmonton. He was getting increased ice time and the points were beginning to come. In 49 games, Hall had 31 points and was in the discussion for top rookie in the league.
Tyler Seguin, on the other hand, was poised to make a jump with the Bruins after the injury to top line centerman, Marc Savard. Due to Boston’s deep talent pool at forward, Seguin was bouncing back between the third and fourth lines. He only had 16 points in 48 games. Opportunity was knocking for the young Seguin at the midpoint of the season. What would he do with it?
In a sport such as hockey, one play could end your season. Injuries could present opportunities for some, but could steal some from others. As Seguin was ready to take the reins for the fallen Marc Savard, Taylor Hall was trying to win his first battle, but in the end he lost the war.
In a March 3rd game versus Columbus, Hall was having a stellar game. He had recorded a goal and assist. In his attempt to complete the “Gordie Howe” hat trick (goal, assist & fight) with a bout against the Blue Jackets’ Derek Dorsett, Hall suffered a high ankle sprain. It usually takes eight weeks to recover from such an injury, and the Oilers were going nowhere fast.
Hall’s season was over after just 65 games. He still ended up finishing eighth in rookie scoring with 42 points (22 goals and 20 assists), edging out the Bruins’ superb rookie, Brad Marchand (41 points), not Tyler Seguin.
Seguin yet again found himself caught in a numbers game in Boston. Savard was gone, but the Bruins made a flurry of trades to add depth. Forwards Chris Kelly (via Ottawa) and Rich Peverley (via Atlanta) were inserted onto the third line. And Seguin was the odd man out.
He would find himself as a healthy scratch for eight games. As Bruins fans wanted to see the young phenom in the lineup more, Coach Claude Julien thought it would be more beneficial for the rookie to observe the game from above. He would become part of an unofficial “taxi squad” with Michael Ryder and Daniel Paille. The player that showed the most of his opportunity would play, plain and simple.
Tyler Seguin tried to make the most of his playing time. He knew if he did not make progress, he would spend more time watching from the rafters. In the last quarter of the season, Seguin was playing with a higher intensity and showing a more consistent effort.
He was playing more physical and fighting for pucks in the corner. Seguin showed toughness by taking an elbow off the head which nearly tore off his ear lobe. And oh, by the way, he returned to the game.
Who will be better as a sophomore?
He was getting increased playing time on the power play. Seguin graduated to the third line playing alongside the speedy Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly. Unfortunately, the line was not converting on their opportunities. Meanwhile, fellow “taxi squad” members, Daniel Paille and Michael Ryder, were scoring big goals during the final stanza of the season.
Tyler Seguin did not have the rookie season that many Bruins’ fans envisioned. He didn’t score 30 goals or 60 points (22 points in 74 games). He didn’t have too many highlight reel offensive plays, but he has shown sparks of brilliance (especially in the shootout). Seguin matured as the season went on and his play showed that. Unlike Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin was not thrown into the fire right away. He was able to progress by observing and learning from his miscues.
Both Hall and Seguin will be poised for big sophomore seasons. Taylor Hall will be relied upon once again to provide the scoring punch for a young Oilers franchise, while Tyler Seguin will be allowed to build off what he learned as a rookie and to take his play to the next level.
The sky is still the limit for these great young hockey talents.
Joe Gill is a writer for Boston Sports Then and Now.