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?
It just might be the NHL’s most intriguing discussion after Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin and at the same time not as provocative as Ginger or Mary Ann.
“I don’t know who I’d take today,” said an NHL pro scout. “They are both great players. The speed factor for both of them is the big thing. Seguin may have the better hands and Hall is more of a straight-line player, but I’d be happy to have either of them.”
Based on what we have seen through five-plus seasons in the NHL, it’s hard to imagine the Oilers making a different decision if they were presented with the possibility of a do-over. Until Connor McDavid’s arrival in Edmonton this season, Hall was the Oilers best player.
My choice back then was Hall for no other reason than he was coming off back-to-back Memorial Cup championships with the Windsor Spitfires during which he was the MVP in both tournaments. I loved the way he performed in those high-pressure events and figured he would be a valuable addition to any NHL team. Quite honestly, when you cover the NHL on a full-time basis you rely heavily on the opinions of those who scout prospects for a living to help form your opinion of prospective picks and just about everybody I talked to prior to the 2010 draft had Hall at No. 1 on their list.
That said, there were enough people back then who believed Seguin would be worthy of being the top pick in 2010 to make it a legitimate debate and that number has probably increased based on his rise to prominence as one of the most lethal scorers in the NHL.
If the majority of scouts believed Hall was the hands-down choice to go No. 1 in 2010, my belief is the gap has narrowed.
Hall got off to a terrific start to his big-league career scoring 22 goals and 42 points in 65 games as a rookie. Unlike Seguin, who played for a team with plenty of skill and depth, Hall’s Oilers were not a good team and that allowed him plenty of quality ice time. Seguin finished his first season with 11 goals and 22 points. However, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup with Seguin contributing four goals and seven points in 13 playoff games.
In the ensuing four seasons Hall continued to grow as a player even though the Oilers, who had three first overall picks in a row, continued to struggle.
Hall had 106 goals and 263 points in his first five seasons in 299 games. He also had a history of injuries that have kept him out of the lineup for long stretches of time. There was a head cut for 30 stitches, a concussion (nine games), knee injury (seven games), sprained MCL (six games), ankle sprain (15 games), foot bone bruise (three games) and cracked ankle (six weeks). The 6-foot-1, 198-pound Hall plays a kamikaze style that puts him in jeopardy often.
Seguin followed up his rookie season by leading the Bruins in scoring as a sophomore scoring 29 goals and 67 points in 81 games. The following year he had 16 goals and 32 points in 48 games, but he was not popular with Bruins management.
The Bruins claim Seguin was living the high life away from the rink after trading him to the Dallas Stars and that may or may not be the case. One thing we do know is Seguin has blossomed with the Stars. He was fourth in NHL scoring in 2013-14 and seventh in 2014-15. This season Seguin ranks third in scoring with 27 goals and 55 points in 52 games.
Seguin has been very fortunate to play with Jamie Benn who led the NHL in scoring last season and is second this season.
Hall, meanwhile, has not been paired with players that can help elevate his game. McDavid is certainly such a player, but he missed 37 games with a shoulder injury. McDavid will surely help boost Hall’s game. Still, Hall has 18 goals and 50 points in 52 games and sits eighth in league scoring.
So at the end of the day what have we learned about Taylor vs. Tyler?
“It’s still a pretty difficult pick,” said another pro scout. “One’s a power winger and the other set-up centre who can shoot, too. It depends what you are looking for. If you are looking for speed and a power winger you’d take Hall. If you want a playmaker who can scores some goals you take Seguin. I think for scouts it still comes up even.”
I cannot disagree with that.