Big Decisions: Taylor Hall over Tyler Seguin

Jonathan Willis
May 20 2012 04:43PM

At the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Oilers owned the first overall pick and faced a choice: to draft Taylor Hall, the dynamic left winger who had been the favourite entering the season, or centre Tyler Seguin, who had enjoyed a superb year and was the only other challenger.

They chose Taylor over Tyler. Did they make the right decision?

A year in, the decision looked pretty good. As rookies, Seguin was stuck in a depth role on a very strong Boston Bruins team (he has a Stanley Cup ring now, thanks to the Oilers’ decision) and looked the part – he finished with 22 points in the regular season and his line got outshot badly despite the fact that he was playing for a pretty good team.

Hall meanwhile played a feature role on a miserable Oilers squad, finishing one point out of the team scoring lead despite losing time down the stretch after an ill-advised fight that led to injury.

A year later, things are less clear cut.

Seguin blossomed in his second NHL season, scoring 29 goals and recording 67 points, finishing as the scoring leader on the 102-point Boston Bruins. He had some advantages – the Patrice Bergeron line, as has been the case for a long time in Boston, took on the big defensive zone minutes, but Seguin’s group out-shot and out-scored their opponents.

In Edmonton, Hall also took a step forward, scoring 27 goals and recording 53 points in just 61 games. Not only that, but Hall’s line dominated the shot clock, though he had the same sort of zone start advantages that Seguin enjoyed in Boston. The problem was less with his play than with injury – this is the second season in a row Hall’s year has been cut short. Not only did he suffer a concussion, but he’s undergoing off-season shoulder surgery to repair a problem that’s plagued him since junior.

Did the Oilers make the right decision? The answer to that question isn’t clear, and likely won’t be clear at any point over the next decade, unless injury plays a hand. Hall was the safer choice to carry over his junior performance to the NHL (having a longer track record in junior than Seguin) but Seguin plays a more influential position – centres controlling the game to a greater degree than wingers.

Hall’s a splendid player, and choosing him was a defensible decision. I don’t know how it will turn out over the long run, but it’s not a decision I regret seeing made, and if I had to bet I’d bet on Hall having the higher-end career, and Seguin the longer one.

Note: As has been pointed out in the comments, while Seguin is expected to play centre eventually, he's spent much of his time in Boston on the wing, while David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron have played up the middle.  At this moment in time, both players are wingers.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
#101 TigerUnderGlass
May 22 2012, 11:45AM
Trash it!
Matt Henderson wrote:

You dont draft 16 year olds. Most dont get to play all that much in the CHL. Taylor Hall did. Great for him. But if he isnt separating himself in his draft year then I wont make a fake argument that the 16 yr old season matters more than the most recent one. It doesnt. Unless player X didnt play in his 17yr old season then there isnt any reason to reference what they did as 16 yr olds.

Unless someone is telling you that Seguin was "far and away better" than Hall based on a single number of dubious importance given the lack of TOI numbers. I never said, explicitly or otherwise, that his 16 year old season was more important, but you know that. You've ignored my actual point entirely.

You can talk about Hall needing to separate himself, and that's fair, but if your argument is that Hall was inferior (as "Seguin was far and away better" would in indicate) then you are contradicting yourself. Failure to separate is very different from clear inferiority.

I have no idea who is/will be better, but I know that Seguin was not a hugely better EV player then, nor has he been since. As far as I can tell both have been great so far. Seguin is performing very well on a very strong line, and Hall is carrying play no matter who is out there with him.

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