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Top NHL prospects take swings at Angels game to kick off draft week

The Canadian Press
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From left, Emerson Etem, Taylor Hall , Cam Fowler, Tyler Seguin, and Brett Connolly take in batting practice before the baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, June 23, 2010. All five are expected to be chosen early in the NHL draft, which starts Friday. (AP Photo/Lori Shepler) Author: The Hockey News

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Top NHL prospects take swings at Angels game to kick off draft week

The Canadian Press
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ANAHEIM, Calif. - Although Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin are the top prospects in this weekend's NHL draft, their batting stances could use a little work.

Hall and Seguin took a few swings in the cage at Angel Stadium on Wednesday while kicking off a week of festivities around the draft's first trip to southern California.

"It was fun to try that out," Hall said after putting his best drive off the San Diego Zoo sign on the right-field wall on the bounce. "I love this city. Everything about it is so relaxing, and it's nice to have a break at the end of this process. It's so great to be out here."

The talented teenage forwards are almost certain to be the top two picks in the first round Friday night in Los Angeles.

Seguin and Hall are also rivals in the Ontario Hockey League: Hall's Windsor Spitfires sent home league MVP Seguin's Plymouth Whalers in the playoffs two months ago. While Hall talked about his warning-track power in Anaheim, Seguin made a more practical observation after his first full day in California.

"Girls that are tens back home are sixes here," he said with a laugh. "It's crazy."

They were joined by defenceman Cam Fowler, Seguin's Windsor teammate, and forwards Brett Connolly and Emerson Etem, a Long Beach native. All five players are likely to be chosen early in the first round.

The players kicked off their Los Angeles excursion Wednesday with a tour of Hollywood, a meal at California landmark In-N-Out Burger, and a pep talk from longtime Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda after taking batting practice before the Angels' game against the Dodgers.

They also met Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who chuckled when introduced to the tall, scruffy-bearded Connolly.

"You're 18?" Scioscia asked. "You look like you're 36. What, did you shave a couple of hours ago?"

Edmonton has the top choice in the draft, with Boston picking second, Florida third and Columbus fourth. Hall and Seguin both profess no preference on their destination when the Oilers make one of the NHL's toughest No. 1 choices in recent memory.

Etem served as the players' unofficial tour guide in his home metropolis, although the Medicine Hat Tigers forward hadn't been to Hollywood in several years.

And though he grew up just 30 kilometres from Angel Stadium, he had never been there before Wednesday.

"I don't even know what batting percentage is, any of that," Etem said. "I've been to Dodger Stadium once in my life, too. I'm not a baseball guy. I played tennis and hockey."

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Top NHL prospects take swings at Angels game to kick off draft week