Taylor vs. Tyler: Almost six years later no clear winner in Hall, Seguin debate

Mike Brophy
Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall. (Getty Images)

Admission of truth: This column started out as the definitive I’ll-tell-you-who-is-the-best-now.

Bottom line: It is not.

It was a coin toss in 2010 and it remains a coin toss in 2016.

Taylor or Tyler?

Who would you rather have playing for your team, Taylor Hall, who was chosen first in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, or Tyler Seguin, chosen No. 2 by the Boston Bruins?

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Stars’ Spezza expected to miss ‘more than a few days’ with upper-body injury

Jared Clinton
Jason Spezza (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Thanks to 20 points in his past 20 games, Jason Spezza was on a near 30-goal, 65-point pace for the Dallas Stars, but the 32-year-old pivot may be out of the lineup for a while after suffering an upper-body injury Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche.

Spezza left Thursday’s game with 12 minutes remaining in the second period, but it’s difficult to tell what exactly is ailing the veteran center. Spezza, who had added to his point total with a goal in the first frame, took his final shift of the contest on a power play, but he remained on the ice for the duration of the man advantage. At the first stoppage, though, he headed to the Dallas bench and did not return.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff wouldn’t get into specifics of the injury post-game, but told the DallasStars.com’s Mark Stepneski that Spezza could be sidelined for “more than a few days.” Read more

Stars, Kings, Panthers headline best of 2014-15 non-playoff teams

Tyler Seguin rises to fourth in the rankings. (Getty Images)

The NHL All-Star weekend mostly gives players and teams a reprieve from the rigors of a long, tough season.

But as soon as it ends Sunday evening, it’s back to reality.

That signals crunch time, especially for teams that were on the outside of the playoff picture last April.

Each team has between 29 and 35 games remaining – those at the top of the standings are probably feeling pretty confident about a return to the post-season, while those on the outside know the margin for error is minute.

Here’s a quick look at the non-playoff teams from 2014-15 that have greater than a 50 percent chance making the dance, courtesy of sportsclubstats.com. It’s worth noting that the first four on this list are in the top six overall in terms of likelihood of making the playoffs.

Dallas Stars – 31-14-5, 99.8 percent
Led by the dynamic all-star duo of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, the Stars are near locks to continue playing after the regular season ends. While they’ve cooled off since winning 19 of their first 24 games by the end of November, they remain second in the Central Division. The Stars are three points behind Chicago, but with three games in hand. They are the league’s highest-scoring team with 160 goals for.

Los Angeles Kings – 30-16-3, 99.6 percent
The 2014 Stanley Cup champions were squeezed out of the playoffs last season, allowing the Calgary Flames to sneak in as the Pacific Division’s third season. They’re not taking any chances in 2015-16. Darryl Sutter’s crew has been the class of the division for the entire way. Backed by a league-high 56 percent Corsi, according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com, Los Angeles holds a seven-point lead over second place San Jose.

Florida Panthers – 29-15-5, 99.1 percent
Only twice since the turn of the century has Florida reached the playoffs – in 2000 and 2012. Barring a massive late-season collapse, there will be one more appearance to add to that list. Buoyed by a recent 12-game winning streak, the Panthers sit atop the Atlantic Division with a five-point lead on their intrastate rivals, the 2015 Stanley Cup finalist Tampa Bay Lightning.

San Jose Sharks – 26-18-4, 94.2 percent
The Sharks missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2003. That led to a coaching change. Peter DeBoer came in. Todd McLellan went out. The Sharks also have a new starting goaltender. They acquired Martin Jones in the hours before the NHL draft. The former Calgary Hitmen goalie is 23-13-3 with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

Boston Bruins – 26-18-5, 80.9 percent
Coach Claude Julien was said to be on the hot seat after the Bruins missed the playoffs last season. However, he survived and has guided Boston to the fourth seed in the Atlantic Division at the break. They’re holding down the first wild card position with a three-point advantage on Pittsburgh and New Jersey.

Colorado Avalanche – 27-22-3, 61.4 percent
Patrick Roy was the beneficiary of Semyon Varlamov’s .927 save percentage as well as some good luck when he had to pull him early in 2013-14. But the bubble burst and the Avalanche tumbled from first to last in the Central Division. Colorado won five of its final six games heading into the All-Star Game and sits fourth in the division. The first wild card spot is in the Avs’ possession, too.

Watch Jamie Benn use quick hands, patience to score gorgeous goal

Jared Clinton
Jamie Benn (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Jamie Benn’s frame might fool some people. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, he looks every bit the prototypical power forward, but, as the Calgary Flames found out Monday, Benn can use his hands just as well as his size to make some magic and light the lamp.

In the second period of a scoreless game Monday, Benn found a soft spot in the Flames’ defensive zone coverage and took a pass from Valeri Nichushkin. With only Kris Russell to beat, it looked like Benn was going to waste no time in getting a shot off, but he instead waited for Russell to hit the ice to block any potential shot. Benn used a flick of his wrists to pull the puck around the downed Russell before getting in one-on-one with goaltender Karri Ramo. One more quick move, and Benn tucked a slick backhand under Ramo’s glove: Read more

THN.com Roundtable: Which young star will reach the 500-goal mark?

Vladimir Tarasenko and Tyler Seguin. (Getty Images)

On Sunday night, Alex Ovechkin became the 43rd player in NHL history to score 500 goals. At just 30 years old and with 800 games under his belt, Ovechkin has a lot more goals in him.

There are couple more veteran active players expected to join him in the 500 club. Marian Hossa sits at 493 and could also hit the mark this year. Patrick Marleau sits at 470 and could conceivably get there next year.

But what about the younger generation of players? The NHL is flush with young snipers, many of whom are far off now, but could one day reach 500 goals.

Here are our picks for players currently under 25 years old who will reach the 500-goal plateau:

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Jim Nill contract extension a stroke of genius by the Dallas Stars

Ken Campbell
Dallas scout Joe McDonnell (left) and GM Jim Nill  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

About the only smarter thing the Dallas Stars did than signing Jim Nill to a five-year extension was signing him to run their hockey operations in the first place three years ago. To be sure, the Stars have benefited from Nill, who like most prospects produced by the Detroit Red Wings, was over-ripe when he took the job in Dallas.

The Stars cemented their commitment to Nill on Friday when they announced they’ve signed him to a five-year contract extension. Because he’s only two years into the five-year contract he inked with Dallas in 2013, it’s essentially a seven-year commitment that has Nill and the Stars inexorably linked until 2023. You can’t do these kinds extensions of with players anymore because the collective bargaining agreement doesn’t allow it. But you can do it with your front office and the smart teams know how important it is to devote your resources to good people.

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Still crazy after all these years – Iginla and Doan were cream of the ’95 draft

Shane Doan (left) and Jarome Iginla (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

With Jarome Iginla scoring his 600th goal last night and Shane Doan on something of an offensive tear of late, we thought it would be interesting to reconfigure the 1995 draft, the one in which Iginla was taken 11th overall and Doan seventh.

Here’s how we’d do it all over again knowing what we know today. Hint: The top two picks would have been teammates with the Kamloops Blazers.

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Finland jumps Sweden as captain Mikko Rantanen heats up

Mikko Rantanen (left) celebrates (photo by Sarah Fuqua)

HELSINKI, FINLAND – Swedish defenseman William Lagesson let out a primal scream, then loudly muttered to himself as he stalked off the ice. The rugged Edmonton Oilers prospect had, after all, managed to shut down Finnish super-teen Jesse Puljujarvi; something unheard of in this edition of the world juniors. But while Puljujarvi’s deadly line with Carolina pick Sebastian Aho and another 2016 draft phenom, Patrik Laine, was held off the scoresheet, Finland had a Plan B.

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