UPDATED: Around the League – April 8, 2010

 

The debate over who is better, Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin, will reach new heights now that the NHL Central Scouting final rankings had Seguin first and Hall second. For the past few months many posters, fans, bloggers and members of the media have said Hall was the best, however, I’ve been a believer that the Oilers, or whoever picks first should take Seguin. I’m not sold he is a better player, but he plays the more influential position; centre.

For the past few months I’ve spoken with a variety of scouts who have seen both play 30+ times, and out of the 27 scouts I asked 13 liked Hall while 14 preferred Seguin. But everyone one of them had them ranked first or second. Not much separates these two, and that is why I’ve said Seguin should be the pick.

Centres have historically been better and normally they influence the game more. Of the current top 50 scorers of all time, five are defencemen, 15 wingers and 30 are centres. Eight of the top-ten scorers of all-time played the middle. If Hall was a clear number one, like Patrick Kane in 2007, then of course he should go first, but he isn’t and that’s why taking Seguin first overall makes more sense.

The Canucks have never won a Stanley Cup, and up until Henrik Sedin, Trevor Linden was the best centre they’ve ever had. The Flames traded their last great centre, Joe Nieuwendyk, to Dallas in exchange for Jarome Iginla. Iginla has been good for the Flames, but only once in 13 years did his team win a playoff round. And all we ever hear is how he needs a centreman.

One centreman won’t change everything for your team, but it is clear a franchise has a better chance with an elite centre than an elite winger. Of course you need a goalie and solid defence, but a centreman normally has more of an influence on a winger’s game than the winger has on the guy taking the draws.

Conn Smyth Trophy winners

LW
Gainey
Leech

C
Beliveau
Keon
Trottier
Goring
Messier
Gretzky
Lemieux
Sakic
Yzerman
Nieuwendyk
Richards
Zetterberg
Malkin

RW
Cournoyer
Lafleur
Bossy
C. Lemieux

D
Savard
Orr
Robinson
MacInnis
Leetch
Stevens
Lidstrom
Niedermayer

G
Crozier
Hall
Dryden
Parent
B. Smith
Roy
Hextall
Ranford
Vernon
Giguere
Ward

Fifteen centremen, 14 goalies, nine D-men, four right wingers, and two left wingers make up the list.

Look at the Stanley Cup champions and strength down the middle seems more important than strength on the wings. No team in recent memory had more dominant strength on the wings than down the middle. Goalies and centremen are the most dominant positions, but drafting a goalie in the first round is very rare.

Since 1969, 947 players have been drafted in the first round. Only 54 of them have been goalies, which is a measly 5.7%. Active goalies taken in the first round include Martin Brodeur (22nd), Roberto Luongo (4th), Marc-Andre Fleury (1st), Cam Ward (25th), Kari Lehtonen (2nd), Pascal Leclaire (8th), Rick Dipietro (1st), Devan Dubnyk (14th), Carey Price (5th), Simeon Varlamov (23rd) and Tukka Rask (21st). The first four are stars, but the rest are still developing and some are already in their second organization.

Only six goalies chosen in the first round have won the Stanley Cup: Tom Barrasso, Grant Fuhr, Martin Brodeur, Cam Ward, Marc-Andre Fleury and Michel Larocque. Goalies have become the most important position in hockey, but their development takes longer, thus many top flight goalies are taken later on.

It seems that Stanley Cup winners are blessed with either dominant guys down the middle or great defence. Rarely are teams led to the Cup by a dominating winger looking at the recent champions.

  • Crosby/Malkin/Staal in Pittsburgh
  • Zetterberg/Datsyuk/Draper in Detroit.
  • The Ducks won with great goaltending and two hall of fame blueliners.
  • Staal/Brind’Amour/Weight in Carolina.
  • Lecavalier and Richards in Tampa.
  • The Devils won with Stevens and Brodeur with three shutouts in the finals.
  • Yzerman/Federov/Lidstrom led the Wings.
  • Sakic/Forsberg/Roy was the backbone of the Avs.
  • Modano/Nieuwendyk/Belfour/Zubov led the Stars.

The last winger you could argue that led his team to victory from was Claude Lemieux, and he won’t make the Hall of Fame. He was great in the playoffs, but he was known more for scoring clutch goals than dominating a series.

I’m not saying it is a lock that Seguin will be more of an impact player in the NHL than Hall, but considering they are ranked so close I would go with the centre, based on past history and the fact Seguin’s 2nd year in junior was better than Hall’s second season in Windsor.

ICE WOMEN OF THE WEEK

The Phoenix Coyotes clinched home ice in the first round yesterday so say hello to Kristen. She is a veteran member of The Pack Entertainment Squad. This blonde haired, blue eyed beauty is a broadcast Journalism Student at Arizona State University, her favorite food is Mac & Cheese, her favorite book is Pride and Prejudice, she loves watching movies and she never shies away from a night of karaoke. Sounds like a perfect date; cook her some KD, hit a karaoke bar and then rent a movie. Giddy Up!

RANDOM THOUGHTS

  • Would you trade Jarome Iginla for the 2nd pick if you were Darryl Sutter? Or does loyalty to a player mean something to you.
  • Will Darryl Sutter remain as GM, will Brent remain as coach? The off-season in Alberta will be fun to watch, but both teams will be revamping complete opposite areas of their team.
  • Right now, who do you think will be a better team next year, the Flames or the Oilers?
  • The schedule maker got it right. The Rangers and Flyers finish the season with a home and home series. Those games are essentially playoff games.
  • I think Mike Gillis’ patience will cost his a team a lengthy playoff run. With Aaron Rome, Shane O’Brien or Andrew Alberts as a third pairing they are in trouble. And all three might have to play because Sami “injury-waiting-to-happen” Salo is always a play away from the pressbox.
  • Ted Leonsis is one of the few owners in sports who talks to the fans. His blog his pretty insightful and entertaining. www.tedstake.com Of course he is pro-Capitals, but Capital fans love interacting with him. He responds to their complaints and that’s what the fans want. The Oilers should pay attention.
  • I have no idea what the criteria is for the Messier award, but it’s supposed to go to “the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season." The five finalists are Nicklas Lidstrom, Jamie Langenbrunner, Alex Ovechkin, Ryan Miller and Mike Richards. I’m a huge Messier fan, but this award is hard to handout, because unless you are in the room no one really knows how good of a leader a player is. Richards has been getting ripped all year for being a bad leader, yet he makes the final five. I don’t get it.

LEADERS THROUGH THE SEASON

Here are the top ten in pts, goals, assists and other stats.

Goals:
48: Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby
47: Steven Stamkos
43: Patrick Marleau
41: Marian Gaborik
40: Ilya Kovalchuk
39: Dany Heatley and Alex Semin
37: Zach Parise
35: Alexandre Burrows

Assists:
78: Henrik Sedin
68: Joe Thornton
67: Brad Richards and Nicklas Backstrom
63: Martin St. Louis
58: Ovechkin and Paul Stastny
56: Patrick Kane
55: Mike Green
54: Daniel Sedin and Duncan Keith

Points:
107: H. Sedin
106: Ovechkin
100: Crosby
98: Backstrom
91: Brad Richards
90: Martin St. Louis
89: Stamkos
87: Thornton
86: Kane
84: Gaborik

Plus/Minus:
+44:
Jeff Schultz
+43: Ovechkin
+35: Mike Green
+34: Backstrom, Daniel Sedin and H. Sedin
+33: Christian Ehrhoff
+31: Alex Burrows and Alex Semin
+26: Tom Poti

***Patrick O’Sullivan has a big lead for the green jacket sitting at -37. Shawn Horcoff has dropped to -28, with Rod Brind’Amour is -26 while former Oiler Steve Staios sits near the bottom -27.***

PP Goals:
21:
Stamkos
18: Heatley
14: Anze Kopitar and Gaborik
13: Mike Richards, Crosby, Ovechkin, B.Richards, Tomas Holmstrom and Teemu Selanne

Hits:
308: Cal Clutterbuck
283: Ryan Callahan
274: Dustin Brown
262: Stephane Robidas
255: David Backes
247: Steve Ott
245: Brooks Orpik
239: Chris Neil
230: Matt Greene
228: Douglas Murray

Shots:
360: Ovechkin
333: Parise
310: Jeff Carter
301: Henrik Zetterberg
297: Phil Kessel
286: Vincent Lecavalier
285: Crosby
275: Patric Hornqvist and Heatley
272: B. Richards and Kovalchuk

UPDATE

If you think things are at an all time low in Edmonton, in 30th place and missing the playoffs for the fourth season in a row, you might want to read this article by Kent Wilson of FlamesNation. In addition to being an absolutely scathing review of the Sutter Era in Calgary it is probably the best article written on the Flames that I have read anywhere.

Tough times in Alberta for hockey fans.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    Who will fair better next season goes to Sutter over Tambellini – self explanatory . Do we send Hall or Sequin back to junior to develop -probably not . Kane and Toews are prime examples of players that have still not filled out their bodies , and i don't see a problem with them among other youngsters in the league . Hall has winning attitude and can star at any highest level, while Sequin has yet to have that sort of success playing in elite company and being shadowed like Hall has had most of the time and overcome at the highest levels . Advantage Hall – for Sequin has not shown that he can handle that sort of leadership and scrutiny yet . We need only look at our present youngsters and see they have yet to fill out just yet . Tams tells Moreau they want to get younger , yet he adds Khabby , Comrie and romances Jagr throughout season . What Tambellini says and what he does are all too frequently polar opposits . How does Tambellini expect to get younger but keep the younger down on he farm to develop ? What would be left but promoting older AHL'ers masquerading as NHL'ers for our main club . I suppose that wouldn't be so bad if our AHL club was not a last place club as well . Ah, whom are we kidding , isn't that what we got basically now ?

    • BarryS

      There is nothing to suggest Calgary will not be worse next year than this while there is no chance Edmonton can be worse. At least Edmonton has AHLer's who can be brought up, Calgary has not even that. If you think Edmonton fans overvalue their players, Calgary is even worse. Iggy is worth a 2nd round next year at best, and everyonee else way over paid. Edmonton at least has the excuse of injuries, Calgary only has old and slow.

      • The article says that Seguin had the better Season this year over Hall. I would argue that Hall and his team are going to round 3 in the OHL playoffs and Seguin is done. Hall was clutch and Seguin I did not even notice in the games. Hall has 3 solid seasons in the OHL. Seguin has 1. PLEASE DO NOT SELECT SEGUIN!

      • Mike Modano's Dog

        Reflexion and Iginla's worth . Not very long ago i believe the Oilers were in your position in 9th place and just missing the playoffs with little in AHL to compensate . Do you really want to follow the Oiler template to where we are at three years later – i doubt it ! Example : We gave up first and second round pick and more just to sign RFA Penner to play here . Now Penner is still no Iginla . We then try to add Vanek at a price that would have cost us i believe three subsequent first rounders plus . Considering that , we probably would still be deadlast and not have a first rounder for this season or the last two i believe . We dodged one bullet thank goodness . Iginla by the way is better than Vanek obviously as well . You way under value Iginla worth on the open marketplace .Iginla's not the Flames problem , and his contract is not that bad considering his stature and worth as a player. Flames are only a man or two away from being a contender of note for next season, so avoid desperation and the errors and template the Oilers failed miserably at – or you just might end up in our place three years down the road with even more overpaid players and no UFA's wanting to play for you as well !

  • Jason Gregor

    Gregor,

    ONe factor you didn't take into account is the "winner" factor. Hall has won more, in Juniors and at the international level, and a winners mentality goes a long way.

    Growing up in Kamloops back in the day, there was a lot of Junior success that has translated into NHL success that has gone well beyond the skill level of the players. It hasn't always meant championships, but it allows players to be better than their actual ability. We all know of highly skilled players that are just plain losers…and conversely we can site examples of unskilled players that just know how to win. I think a lot of this is attributed to attitudes and mindsets that are developed in their junior years.

    Quick sidebar, I think it was the '04 draft that the Caps chose a big winger and the Pens got stuck with consolation centreman…

    Hopefully this draft is similar, in which case you can't really lose, but one would be better than the other.

    • Jason Gregor

      Winning does help, but winning at junior doesn't translate into NHL wins.

      Lets look at your Blazers…

      They won three Memorial Cups in four years, 92, 94 and 95..

      The 1992 had Scott Niedermayer, Scott Ferguson, Darryl Sydor, Darcy Tucker and a lot of good WHL players who never turned pro.

      The 94 team had Darcy Tucker, Jarome Iginla, Shane Doan, Jason Strudwick, Hnat Domenichelli, Tyson Nash, Nolan Baumgartner, Scott Ferguson and Steve Passmore.

      The 95 team had…Darcy Tucker, Jarome Iginla, Shane Doan, Jason Strudwick, Hnat Domenichelli, Tyson Nash, Nolan Baumgartner, Brad Lukowich and Steve Passmore.

      Niedermayer and Sydor are the only players to win a Cup.

      None of the guys from the back-to-back teams have won anything in the NHL.

      Tucker will be back in the playoffs this year for the first time since 2004.

      Iginla has won three playoff series in his career.

      Doan has never won a playoff series.

      Most of the other guys are in the same boat. They were a GREAT junior team, one of the best of all-time, but that means nothing once they came to the NHL.

      I don't put any stock in Seguin and Hall's winning attitude.

      And let's not compare Hall to Ovechkin or Seguin to Malkin even. In that case yes the winger was the right choice, but he was clearly the best player, and went first. Neither Hall or Seguin is clearly the best.

  • Jason Gregor

    Wow, it sure is nice to see some Flames fans in a panic over on Flamesnation.

    What goes around comes around Flamers. After being the brunt of jokes by Flames fans the entire year about our abysmal year, seeing the Flames choke is a small victory in an otherwise season to forget.

    It felt kind of weird being on that evil website. I need to take a shower and wash the stink of Calgary off of me.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    You know the funny thing is I can remember leading up to that draft they were talking about the difference between Ovechkin and Malkin being not as great as people beieved. Some people even said that Malkin was supposed to be the better pro after they both fully matured. Interesting… but you're right, Jason, you can't compare Hall and Seguin to those guys. They are their own animals, to be sure, but it is interesting to see the difference between the center/winger debate for the draft.

  • bored

    Fair enough.

    I defintely wasn't comparing the players in the '04 draft as much as the situation – winger vs. centreman. I get your arguement that all things being equal, take the center. I think the reason so many are focused on Hall is because of all the additional exposure that he's had over Seguin…we've had a chance to see him play, and we liked what we saw. But you're right, there are professional scouts out there who's opinions matter waaaay more than any of ours.

    It's just a bit scary to put all this hope into a guy that we've never seen before – and just goose egged in the most important playoff series of his career so far…

    As for the Blazers, all I'm saying is that a lot of those players became better professionals than they should have been based on their talent. For example, Darcy Tucker should not have been as effective as has been in the past based on him being 5 foot nothing and a hundred and nothing pounds…but his experience winning 3 memorial cups may have contributed to his development as a player…maybe.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      "As for the Blazers, all I'm saying is that a lot of those players became better professionals than they should have been based on their talent."

      Stuff like that sounds good, but really we have no idea if it's true or not.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    Just what is this so called time line for the Oilers to bring up from the minors or juniors, anyways ? Seems to me everyone they bring up is not ready be an NHL'er – whether it be 1,2 3 years in minors or more (tongue in cheek). Svensson's put on 15 impressive pounds to a nice size to begin with , and we have not even seen him on our turf as yet . Linus was apparantly thought to be NHL ready 2-3 years ago by many a scout , and finally we get to at least see him on Canadian soil . Face it , there is no real time line – it's more dependent on teams needs at the time .How much is this time line more dependent on the mentality of the organization they are drafted into than whether the player is really ready or not ? Who knows next season if Oilers will promote any youngsters to main squad , or they may continue to stay worse than this season and promote more AHL'ers to NHL status in order to load up on another season of top draft picks ?

  • Skidplate

    If the Oilers take Hall I would think that there would be a plan to move up in the draft and look at a center like Nino Niederitter(Portland Winter Hawks WHL). I could see the Oilers offering Cogliano and a 2cd round pick to a team to move up in the draft. Cogliano is done. He could use a change a scenery where he can play top 6 minutes. He has shown he can produce when given those minutes. Would Boston, the Rangers ( I don't think they will make the playoffs)or Columbus consider it. I gotta believe that they would. Columbus may want Chorney or Gilbert though. I think that the Oilers are leaning to Hall because of his NHL readiness. His size at 6'1, 204lbs. He goes to the dirty places to score. Skates like Glenn Anderson and has Messier like passion for the game. Plus Don cherry say he is the best. Hehe.

    michael

  • Skidplate

    What's your criteria for leading a team to victory? Because your list looks very, very selective.

    That year, Zetterberg and Datsyuk played on the same line for the vast majority of the year. One of them must have been on the wing.

    And the Ducks also won with a 94 point Teemu Selanne.

    Tampa, St. Louis was hands down their best player in the regular season. Richards stepped up in the playoffs, but St. Louis still dominated there too.

    Devils…Elias led the team in the regular season, and Langenbrunner in the playoffs.

    Wings…how can you not mention Shanahan or Hull?

    So overall, you failed to include Brendan Shanahan as part of the Detroit offensive core, the Devils` regular season and playoff offensive leaders, the NHL`s Art Ross and Hart Memorial Champion, and the Ducks` franchise forward as guys who lead their teams to a Cup.

    Come on.

  • Skidplate

    I agree given that the two players are so close in terms of their overall talent level, albeit their skills & strengths lay in different areas, the Oilers should pick Seguin. It's not to say that they don't need goal scoring but Seguin is someone who can cover more of the Oilers needs as this team has a lot of holes to cover. Seguin can play PK, PP, and even strength as he is the better two way forward, he can also win faceoffs, which is a dire need for this club. More importantly he has the potential to be a no.1 center.

    As much as I like Gagner's IQ and talent I'm not sure he meets the requirements of a no.1 center as his faceoff ability is not great, he isn't a strong defensive forward, and he lacks the dominating quality that a true no.1 center has ie.(Getzlaf, Richards, Crosby, etc). Gagner is much better slotted as a 2nd Center as he has good offensive instincts and good hands but at this point is still fairly one dimensional, although he still has a lot of years to develop.

    Hall is a power winger who drives into the zone with his speed and crashes the net. He is the most NHL ready but will only fill one need for the Oilers, goal scoring. The Oilers have much more pressing matters than goal scoring. Also as we have seen with great playmaking centers they can make players around them better and increase their teams goal scoring. Also I don't really buy the argument of Eberle and Hall having great chemistry. If you watched the WJC they weren't on the same line at all. They were on the first unit PP for Canada and let's face it with their offensive acumen they could have been just as lethal as PP linemates if the rest of the line was made up of chimps in skates. Besides if we are hoping to give Eberle a shot at being an NHL scorer the Oilers needs an offensive centerman on their club besides Gagner as he has never broken the 50pt barrier. Looking forward the Oilers cupboard is bare in terms of offensive centerman as the two best guys they have in the system are projected to be two way centers in Anton Lander and Riley Nash, and Nash's development isn't going well as a hockey player because of Cornell's rather middling hockey program.

    Given how close everyone is scoring the 1st and 2nd pick the Oilers desperately need a center, bottom line.