Tyler Seguin, from Brampton, Ontario, skates during the warm-up for the CHL Top Prospects game, Wednesday, January 20, 2010, in Windsor, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley
TORONTO - It looks like the battle between Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall will go right down to the wire.
Seguin overtook Hall in the final rankings released by NHL Central Scouting on Wednesday and it's unlikely either will be considered the consensus No. 1 choice heading into the entry draft in June.
"I think they're so close they could be flip-flopped," E.J. McGuire, the director of central scouting, told NHL.com. "I don't think that's at all being wishy-washy about it, but there may be something that a team sees that may sway them this much in order to pick one over the other."
The two Ontario Hockey League players have drawn the attention of NHL scouts all season. Hall was rated No. 1 ahead of Seguin for North American skaters when the mid-season rankings were released in January and the two switched positions this time around.
There isn't much to choose between.
Seguin and Hall each put up 106 points to lead the OHL in the regular season. The playoffs have been kinder to Hall, whose Windsor Spitfires took a 3-0 series lead over Seguin's Plymouth Whalers into Game 4 on Wednesday night.
The final decision could end up being based on a team's specific needs as Hall is a winger and Seguin plays centre.
The NHL will hold its draft lottery Tuesday night in New York to determine the order of selection for teams that fail to qualify for the playoffs. The Edmonton Oilers are already guaranteed to finish 30th and will have a 48.8 per cent chance of getting the top pick.
The Toronto Maple Leafs currently sit 29th in the league and would have an 18.8 per cent of occupying the No. 1 spot - although their pick now belongs to the Boston Bruins because of the Phil Kessel trade.
There was quite a bit of movement below Seguin and Hall in the final rankings released by NHL Central Scouting.
Forward Brett Connolly, who played just 16 games this season for the Prince George Cougars because of injuries, jumped up to third spot. He was followed by a trio of defencemen - Erik Gudbranson of the Kingston Frontenacs, Cam Fowler of the Spitfires and Brandon Gormley of the Moncton Wildcats.
The top-ranked North American goaltender was Calvin Pickard of the Seattle Thunderbirds. He's the younger brother of goalie Chet Pickard, who was selected by Nashville in the first round of the 2008 draft.
Forward Mikael Granlund finished the year as the top-ranked European-based player. He played for HIFK in the Finnish league this season and had 40 points (13 goals, 27 assists) in 43 games.
The NHL Central Scouting Service employs eight full-time and 15 part-time scouts across North America and uses the services of another seven scouts in Europe. They combined to see in excess of 3,000 games this season.
When the hockey world converges in Los Angeles for the June 25-26 draft, the focus will be centred around Hall and Seguin.
Teams feel like they'd be luck to add either one to their roster.
"Whoever has the first or second pick of the draft is not only going to add a great player to their team," Oilers GM Steve Tambellini said this week. "They will be adding an outstanding person to their organization."