With Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin neck-and-neck for the honor of being picked first overall, the two haven’t made it easy on NHL scouts.
While Hall is touted as the more NHL-ready of the two, with a powerful offensive game that was rounded out with a stellar defensive effort this season, Seguin is seen as more of a long-term prospect who may end up having the better career. But if I’m the Edmonton Oilers and I’m set on keeping the selection, I’ve already made up my mind who will go No. 1.
Given that everything else is equal, Hall deserves the edge because of his winning pedigree. His Spitfires are fresh off their second consecutive Memorial Cup championship and Hall now has two Memorial Cup MVP trophies on his mantle. Considering how no one had accomplished that feat before, this kid is pretty special.
Take a look at this year’s Stanley Cup final. Flyers captain Mike Richards was captain of a gold medal Canadian world junior team, a Memorial Cup champion with the Kitchener Rangers and a Calder Cup champion with the Philadelphia Phantoms. Jonathan Toews, the epitome of young NHL leadership, was as clutch as anyone can be with three shootout goals against the Americans in a WJC semifinal game – the Canadians went on to win gold. All told Toews has two WJC gold medals and a World Championship gold as well.
And both Toews and Richards were key members of Canada’s Olympic gold this season in Vancouver.
If you look back at both of their draft years, Toews and Richards would be picked higher in a redo. Toews was only behind Erik Johnson and Jordan Staal, but would likely go No. 1 ahead of those two and Nicklas Backstrom; Richards was picked way back at No. 24, but would easily leap into the top five and move past guys like Nathan Horton, Steve Bernier, Braydon Coburn and Eric Fehr.
Sure, you wouldn’t draft a guy based solely on his team achievements and it’s not an area you want to put a lot of weight on, but it obviously counts for something. Not only are Toews and Richards one and three in playoff scoring this season, but they are captains of successful NHL franchises on the rise and quickly matured from amateur to professional upon entering the NHL. If I’m the Oilers, I’m thinking of the future of my franchise, how Hall can eventually change the culture to a new era and possibly captain a winner down the road.
Will Hall ultimately have the better career than Seguin? Will Seguin end up being the better NHL captain? Only time and tarot cards can tell. But when the decision is this tough and with the competition so tight, the tiebreaker is simple: pick the winner.
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