The debate has raged on for months now, especially here in Edmonton where the local club has the ultimate say on who will go #1 at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The Edmonton Oilers will put a new face on their franchise on Friday in Los Angeles when they select either Taylor Hall of Tyler Seguin with the first overall pick.
The argument has gained a considerable amount of steam beginning with the end of the NHL season, it picked up more when Plymouth and Windsor met in the OHL playoffs, ratcheted up another notch after the Memorial Cup and higher still over the last few weeks. It's no longer a friendly discussion anymore; if one fan voices his preference for either player there seems to be a gang of supporters ready to pounce in defence of their guy.
I've been very public about what I would do and who I would select if I were in their position (Seguin) but I've also tried to be clear in stating that I don't think the Oilers can really make a mistake. That might sound like I'm on the fence - I'm not, I'd attempt to get something from Boston to lay off of Hall and take Seguin. But if Edmonton opts for Hall, and that seems to be the general consensus and what my own digging suggests, then I don't believe that choice is really an error.
A couple of months ago Dean and I were talking with Wil Fraser and Corey Graham, the hosts of Sports Night which can be heard live after The Pipeline Show, and I suggested that choosing between Hall or Seguin was like deciding on whether you preferred a blond or brunette. Wil expanded on that analogy and to borrow from him, here is exactly how I see the debate between the two potential franchise players summed up in a single picture:
Is it a cop-out to insist that Oiler fans should be happy getting either player? You might be an adamant "Veronica" fan but you should still be able to admit that "Betty" has a lot of great qualities too.
Too often I'm seeing on message boards ridiculous arguments bashing one player in order to make the other look like a better or safer pick. It's getting ridiculous.
"Seguin said he didn't like the weather in Edmonton, we don't need that kind of attitude!!!"
"Hall always has his mouth open and isn't as photogenic... pass!!!"
Both players have massive potential and a huge upside. There are also some concerns with both players but that one looks better on magazine covers or that the other got chilly during his visit to E-Town... those aren't on the list.
Over the season we've spoken with a lot of people on the show and have gathered a lot of different opinions. I've compiled a list of positives and concerns but again, this isn't to suggest one is better than the other - they are both excellent. If you've got a few things you'd like to add, please do so in the comments section.
- A pure offensive talent, he scored 45 goals as a rookie in the OHL and led the league with 66 assists in 2009-10.
- Amazing speed, always keeps his feet moving. Attacks defenders head on and will power through or over top of them.
- Plays with determination at all times, drives hard to the net, wins battles for loose pucks and can single-handedly change the composure of a game.
- Has a stellar résumé which includes unprecedented back-to-back Memorial Cup MVP Awards, OHL scoring title (tie), international success with Hockey Canada and CHL Rookie of the Year in 2007-08.
- Made Canada's U20 team in his draft year and played big role.
- Has proven to be able to take a pounding at the junior level.
- Can play center although most we've spoken with envision him as a winger in the NHL because of uncanny skill at attacking from the outside.
- moderate statistical improvement each year.
- Led Windsor in scoring by 27 points over closest teammate.
- Plays with head down and gets hammered by junior defencemen to an alarming degree. Will definitely have to adjust his game to avoid serious injury.
- Admits to "not having to play within the system" in Windsor and reports of some preferential treatment (not always expected to practice with the rest of the team on game days). Potential for sense of entitlement?
- Goals per game highest as rookie.
- some have questioned his level of intelligence.
- An all-around offensive threat as a play-maker who led the OHL in scoring (tie) including 48 goals.
- Named OHL Player of the Year and CHL Top Prospect.
- Massive 57% increase in scoring from 67-point rookie year.
- Hockey sense described as "outstanding".
- Considered a player who makes teammates better.
- Led Canada in scoring at Ivan Hlinka tournament.
- Led Plymouth in scoring by 43 points over closest teammate.
- Attacks defenders and can dangle around them with slippery agility and puck-handling skills.
- Charismatic and intelligent.
- Physical conditioning at NHL combine widely applauded.
- Has only played 2 years in the OHL.
- Major breakout in 2009-10 season; is it realistic to expect much more or has he peaked?
- Described as more of a perimeter player and doesn't play as physical a game as most 6'1, 186 lb forwards.
- Did not make Canada's U20 team in his draft year (as expected he would not).
- Finished OHL playoffs fourth in team scoring with 10 points in 9 games, minus-5, and went pointless in series against Windsor.
It's not an easy decision that's for sure. Hall vs Seguin might be on par with Coke vs Pepsi, PC vs Mac, Energizer vs Duracell or...
Again, if you've got some thoughts you want to add to either list please do. As I said before and have said for months now, I'd take Seguin but if the Oilers take Hall I still think they're going to come away with an elite, special player.
Picking between the two players and the debate that has ranged over the last several months has been divisive to the fan base but I'm sure come September, Oiler fans will be united once again.