January 14 2014 09:38AM
Four years ago the Taylor vs. Tyler debate was just beginning. For the next six months both sides debated the merits of Hall and Seguin. The Oilers chose Hall and the Bruins happily settled for Seguin. Four years later both have developed into dynamic offensive players and both of them still have room to improve.
The debate isn't as intense as it was four years ago, likely because both are producing and both fan bases are happy with the player the drafted, or in Boston's case the players they received when they traded Seguin, but their individual success means the debate will continue and maybe even intensify in the future.
They play different positions, and in their first three years they played for teams at opposite end of the standings spectrum. Hall was saddled with the pressure of being the face of a franchise, while Seguin got his feet wet being surrounded by great players and winning a Stanley Cup.
When Seguin was traded to Dallas this past summer he was thrust into a situation similar to Hall. Both of them will now be looked upon to lead their respective franchises to the playoffs, and in the incredibly competitive western conference that won't be an easy task.
This year their offensive totals are very close.
Hall has 18 goals and 43 points in 41 games.
Seguin has 21 goals and 41 points in 43 games.
Seguin is playing with Olympian Jamie Benn and Russian man-child Valeri Nichushkin. They've become a very dangerous line, and I'm curious to see Lindy Ruff will match the Seguin line against Hall's line tonight. Ruff would get a better matchup playing Seguin vs. the Arcobello line; however, many coaches know that their best players like the challenge of playing against the other team's top line.
I'd argue that the Seguin trio is just as much of a challenge as facing Sidney Crosby's line, and a bit different due to the size of Benn and Nichushkin.
Hall and Seguin will forever be linked together, and four years later I still think Hall is slightly ahead of Seguin, but only by the slimmest of margins.
No reason to change the forward lines. Keep them together and try to build some chemistry. I understand why coaches changes lines frequently, even the top teams do, but I'd keep the top-three the same for a few more games just to see what happens.
Corey Potter is back skating, and the only player you might take out for a game is N.Schultz because he's playing the right side. I wouldn't do it, but that seems like the only option on the blueline.
- The dilemma facing Craig MacTavish over the next eight months will be deciding how he wants to construct his blueline. Martin Marincin has looked good, albeit in only ten games, and if he keeps playing well do the Oilers plan to have him in their top-six next season along with J.Schultz, Jeff Petry and possibly Darnell Nurse?
That would be three D-men in their top-six with less than 130 NHL games, and Petry will have less than 240 games under his skates. I don't see them succeeding with that much inexperience on the blueline. For me, Nurse will need to be incredibly good to last more than nine games. Inserting more youth into the lineup won't help. If all four of them make it, that means two of them will be paired together. I know Marincin and Petry have played together the past few games, but it is asking a lot of Marincin to be a top-four D-man next year.
I would bring ensure I have at least three proven, steady veteran D-men at the start of next season, and if the young kids play well enough to keep them, then at least you will have some insurance when they hit a rough patch. I'd err on side of caution and start with more veterans and less youth on the blueline next October.
- I agree with Willis that Petry is a competent NHL D-man, but my issue with him is his consistency at key times of the game. For instance during the 5-on-3 vs. Chicago. Petry has control of the puck, but can't clear the zone. Keith keeps in it, and seconds later it is in the back of the net. Petry has to get that puck out of the zone. We don't know if the Hawks could have regrouped, re-entered the zone and scored, but not getting the puck out allowed them to stay set up.
Petry is a competent D-man on a bad hockey team, but I'm not sold he is a guy you build around. He might be a good complementary player, but I don't see him as a backbone defender.
- Ales Hemsky will be traded. Why would he re-sign in Edmonton to be the #3 RW. By March 5th, Eberle and Yakupov will still be on the team, so the Oilers won't be able to guarantee him a spot in their top-six at that time. They could roll the dice and keep him with the hope they move one of the other two, because their value is higher, before free agency starts and convince Hemsky to stay, but I doubt that happens. So rather than lose him for nothing, he will be dealt before the deadline.
There is a large contingent of fans and media who don't like Hemsky, but you can't overlook his skill. How many forwards can walk around Duncan Keith and score like he did on Sunday? Of course you'd like to see that more often, but that play is why opposing GMs will still be intrigued by Hemsky. Hemsky has basically been playing in a 3rd line role this year, but he has the skill to be a top-six forward. He is still fearless on the ice, and I suspect he will have success in a new situation.
The question is what kind of return will Hemsky fetch? Teams have always overpaid for players at the deadline. An aging Robyn Regehr got Buffalo two 2nd rounders last year. The Sabres also received a first rounder for Paul Gaustad a few years ago. Every GM is willing to pay something different. MacTavish must be hoping Hemsky plays well at the Olympics, because a good showing there will increase his value significantly.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall and Seguin each finish with two points, but the Oilers lose a close game 5-4.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Martin Marincin has another strong game giving hope to beleaguered Oiler fans that in the future the blueline will eventually improve.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Many of the Nation readers will send emails to Kate Beckinsale's fanmail account after noticing she isn't wearing a ring in the above photo. Good luck fellas, if any of you get a response let me know, we will post it on the Nation. After the Oilers loss, many will numb the pain by watching Underworld....