Friday, June 25, 2010

Taylor vs. Tyler

There hasn’t been an argument this heated since Team Edward vs Team Jacob (fitting, since these boys attended the Twilight premier last ngiht). Team Tyler or Team Taylor? Unlike the drafts of most professional sports leagues, the question in the NHL draft is “Who will be the bigger superstar?” instead of “Who will be the bigger bust?” Edmonton has undoubtedly debated this to no end while trying to decide what to do with their #1 overall pick tonight.

The choice is pretty much exclusively between Taylor of the back-to-back Memorial Cup winning Windsor Spitfires, and Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers. Hall was on Canada’s World Junior Championship silver-medal winning team (courtesy of our very own American Hero John Carlson). Beyond these two, it is not too deep of a draft this year. It has been a long time since it was as even a debate over the 1st pick as it is this year, and with good reason: both are outstanding players who will have an instant impact on their respective NHL teams.

First, we start with Taylor Hall. The 18 year-old is considerably more accomplished on the ice than then Seguin. He has won CHL Rookie of the Year honors and the Memorial Cup, OHL Championship, and Memorial Cup MVP twice each. This past year, he ended the season tied for first with Seguin at 106 points in the Ontario Hockey League. He made the Canada’s World Junior team while Seguin was left off the roster. He won gold with Canada’s team in 2008 as well, and won gold again in 2008 with Canada’s U18 team. He has the awards, accolades, and championship teams.

However, let’s be honest, he is not anywhere near what we would call a “pleasant looking person.” Taylor Hall looks like a horse who had another horse constantly stomp on his face while it was developing. It’s not helped by general teenaged boy awkwardness in appearance and in interactions in front of the camera. He is a great player, but his demeanor lacks a certain “superstar” quality that we found in John Taveras, Patrick Kane, and Alex Ovechkin when they were picked at the top spot. He is quiet and uncomfortable with the kind of press and attention that he has attracted with his incredible ability.

Then, we have Tyler Seguin. He is the perpetual “most improved” guy. He was taken ninth overall in the OHL’s draft in 2008 while Hall was picked second in the 2007 draft. He originally planned to go to college before signing with the Whalers. He had a disappointing start to his OHL career, scoring just one goal in his first 17 games of the 2008-2009 season. Then, a coaching change in Plymouth moved him up to the top line, where he exploded to 58 points in the final 41 games of the season. He picked up where he left off at the start of the 09-10 season with 36 points in his first 18 games before sidelined with injury. He finished the season with 106 points, good for a tie for first in the league with Hall.
While Seguin has not had the same kind of success that Hall has had, he has an abundance of all of the things Hall lacks: personality. When asked about going to the Twilight: Eclipse premier, he answered, “I’m just trying to see some celebrities. You know, Lauren Conrad, Jessica Alba.” He is extremely comfortable with the spotlight and jokes with the media. He is composed and lacks the awkwardness that envelops Hall. Seguin is a potential superstar in the making.

If I were Edmonton, I would take Tyler Seguin. He can handle media pressure and has a cute face that could stand up as the cornerstone of the franchise. A superstar is something that Edmonton desperately needs, and while Taylor Hall could provide that quality on the ice, he doesn’t seem to have the ability to carry that same role off it. Seguin can do both, which is very important in today’s marketing/media centric NHL. He can captivate fans with his laid-back personality while he wows them with his skills on the ice. In Canada, with all of the focus he will carry, it is more important to find someone who will go round-for-round with the media and come out on top.

Another aspect of his game that I think is invaluable is how much he has improved the last couple of years. Upset with the start of his OHL career, Seguin dedicated the 2009 summer to the strength and development of his game. The fact that he is willing to put forth that effort and the fact he is still early on the upswing puts him over the edge for me. Hall is so good that he doesn’t seem to have a lot of potential for improvement. He may be the better player now, but Seguin will probably be better for longer. Those intangibles make Tyler Seguin my number one pick over Taylor Hall.

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