Around the League – Playoff Edition – wk 5

Four games into the conference finals and my interest is waning, and I’m guessing anyone who isn’t a fan of the Flyers, Habs, Sharks and Hawks is feeling something similar. Part of me wants the Sharks and Habs to make their series’ competitive, but the other side wants them to roll over so we can get to the Cup finals.

The only thing dragging out longer than the playoffs is the Taylor Hall v. Tyler Seguin debate, and we only have 36 days left before Steve Tambellini calls a name and many can claim, “I told you so.”

The fact is the debate won’t end June 25th, and we probably won’t know who the better NHL player is for a years to come, but Hall’s play at the Memorial Cup, while Seguin sits in oblivion with no chance to respond, has strengthened the argument to take Hall first overall. But history shows the projected best player in June doesn’t always pan out to be the best NHL player.

In the last ten drafts there are five clear cases where the 1st overall pick has turned out to be the best NHL player to this point:

2001– Ilya Kovalchuk

2002 – Rick Nash

2004 – Alex Ovechkin

2005 – Sidney Crosby

2007 – Patrick Kane

2000 produced the biggest bust, Rick Dipietro, but injuries have played a big role in his demise. 2003, the deepest draft in the past 30 years, had Marc-Andre Fleury taken first, but Eric Staal was taken 2nd and the rest of the first round produced many elite NHLers. Eric Johnson went 1st in 2006, but so far the ensuing four picks have developed quicker; Jordan Staal (2nd), Jonathon Toews (3rd), Nicklas Backstrom (4th) and Phil Kessel (5th). Steven Stamkos went 1st in 2008, but Drew Doughty (2nd) is on par, if not ahead, with Stamkos at this point, and last year’s first overall pick, John Tavares wasn’t any better than Matt Duchene in their rookie campaign.

Hall is physically more mature and has a more dynamic game than Seguin, but no one has declared either of them to be as dominant as Crosby or Ovechkin. Crosby and Ovechkin were heralded as “the next ones” when they were drafted, and were considered the consensus first pick in 2004 and 2005. Crosby is clearly the class of his draft, but even Ovechkin has been pushed a bit by Evgeni Malkin who went 2nd in 2004.

Outside of Crosby, only Kane has emerged as the obvious best player in his draft year, and that recent history has to make people realize that it isn’t a guarantee that Hall will be the best player taken in the 2010 draft. Of course that doesn’t mean, he won’t be, but it is something that needs to be considered.

Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik have outperformed Dipietro by leaps and bounds since being drafted 2nd and 3rd in 2000.

It’s fair to say that Duncan Keith is the best player to come out the 2002 draft, but he was taken 54th, so every team didn’t consider him a first rounder at the time. Nash went first, followed by Kari Lehtonen, Jay Bouwmeester, Joni Pitkanen, Ryan Whitney, Scottie Upshall, Joffrey Lupul and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Alex Semin went 13th to Washington and Carolina took Cam Ward 25th. At the time Nash was considered the best player, and none of the other top ten picks have proven that selection incorrect.

Fleury has won a Cup and been to another already, so it’s not like he was a bad 1st choice, but Eric Staal also has a Cup and is more valuable to Carolina than Fleury is to Pittsburgh. The rest of the first round included: Nathan Horton (3rd), Thomas Vanek (5th), Milan Michalek (6th), Ryan Suter (7th), Braydon Coburn (8th), Dion Phaneuf (9th), Jeff Carter (11th), Dustin Brown (13th), Brent Seabrook (14th), Zach Parise (17th), Ryan Getzlaf (19th), Brent Burns (20th), Ryan Kesler (23rd), Mike Richards (24th) and Corey Perry (28th). You can’t critique Pittsburgh’s pick, because Fleury is in the upper echelon of goalies, but it’s clear there were many other good players they could have chosen.

The 2004 draft might be the closest comparison to Hall v. Seguin. I’m not saying Hall will be as good as Ovechkin (1.33PPG), nor Seguin as Malkin (1.23 PPG), but if in 2016 Hall is averaging 1.06 PPG and Seguin is 0.96 will it be considered a landslide victory for the Oilers? And remember that Ovechkin didn’t play in the league until he was 20. He had a late birthday in 1985, and because of the lockout he never played until the 2005/2006 season. Malkin also never came into the league until he was 20, after missing one year of the lockout and spending another year in Magnitogorsk before coming to Pittsburgh in 2006/2007. So don’t expect Hall or Seguin to come close to the rookie totals of either Malkin or Ovechkin.

Hall’s performance at the Memorial Cup is reason to believe the kid is big-game player and I can understand why many Oiler fans will want his name called on June 25th. I spoke with a scout who said this, “It’s pretty hard to overlook what he does when the games matter most. Even with the concern about the big hits he takes; it’s his ability to bounce back and score goals that is more impressive.”

I’m still in favour of taking Seguin, but we won’t know who was the correct choice for years. But will Hall be to Seguin like Kane is to Van Riemsdyk, or Crosby to Ryan? I don’t think so. I think it’s more likely we will see two very good players, who succeed by playing completely different games.


My apologies for the small pics from last week, so here’s a few extra to make up for it. These women aren’t part on any Ice Crew, but are or were women of the men on ice.

Noureen Dewulf is Ryan Miller’s girlfriend. Good on you Miller. Willa Ford is married to Mike Modano. Sirpa Selanne looks like her husband acts; classy. Former Flames tough guy Cale Hulse is married to Gena Lee Nolin and of course who can forget the ex-wife of former Oiler, Petr Nedved, Veronica Varakova.


  • Did Hockey Canada really need to defend Sidney Crosby from the communications guy from IIHF? Szymon Szemberg wrote a lengthy article bemoaning how players from every country stuck their noses up to the World Championships. He had some valid points, but considering he works for the IIHF it’s clear he had an agenda. News flash Szymon, the Worlds don’t matter that much anymore, especially in an Olympic year. That being said, I wonder what Canadians would say if we hosted the World Cup and Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czechs didn’t send their best players. We’d be pissed.
  • I’m curious why people are ripping the job Mark Messier has done as GM of Team Canada? Many suggest he has built a bad team. Crosby, Rick Nash, Jarome Iginla, Ryan Getzlaf and every other player from the Olympics, except Corey Perry, said no. If players don’t want to play what is the GM supposed to do?
  • It’s no different than saying Steve Yzerman is a great GM because he put together the Canadian team. Outside of the Patrice Bergeron spot, there wasn’t much debate over who should have played. Putting together an all-star team doesn’t convince me that Yzerman will be a great NHL GM. Let’s see what he does when he has to worry about the salary cap, asset management, drafting, trades and managing an entire organization.
  • I wonder why Jay Bouwmeester didn’t go to the Worlds? Was he upset from not making the Olympic team? If he wanted to make the 2014 Olympic team he should have gone. Right now he’d be listed behind Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Drew Doughty, Mike Green and Tyler Myers.
  • Can Michael Leighton win the Conn Smyth if he didn’t play until halfway through the second round?
  • Who will the Canucks name captain this off-season; because I don’t see any how they can continue with the failed experiment of having Roberto Luongo as captain.
  • I’m surprised it’s taken this long, but next year we will see the first European-trained official during NHL games. Swedish born, Marcus Vinnerborg, will start the year in the AHL, but is expected to work NHL games over the course of the year.
  • Dustin Byfuglien might struggle with consistency during the regular season, but his work in the playoffs proves why the Hawks won’t move him this off-season. I’ve debated with many who thought Byfuglien might be available when the Hawks have to dump a contract or two this summer. Outside or Byfuglien, the only other top-nine forward the Hawks have with size is Andrew Ladd. Patrick Sharp is a more complete player than Byfuglien, but the Hawks have lots of skill in Patrick Kane, Jonathon Toews and Marian Hossa. I’d trade Kris Versteeg in a heartbeat before Byfuglien, and the Hawks will probably move Sharp because he’ll garner more of a return and he doesn’t have the size of Byfuglien.
  • If Scott Hartnell is available, Steve Tambellini and Mike Gillis should put in a call. He’s exactly the type of forward both teams need. Both could use his size and skill. The Canucks have more skill than the Oilers right now, but it’s obvious they lack the necessary grit to win in the playoffs. Would the Flyers take Andrew Cogliano and Theo Peckham or a Mason Raymond and a draft pick?
  • It sounds like Hawks assistant coach, John Torchetti is a leading candidate to get the Atlanta Thrashers job. Thrasher beat reporter, Chris Vivlamore, told me that new GM Rick Dudley has said he won’t interview anyone else until he talks with Torchetti. Will the Hawks grant him permission to do an interview before the Stanley Cup finals, like Detroit did with Todd Mclellan and the Sharks two years ago?
  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ Gregor, have you heard anything regarding Coburn falling out of favour in Philly as well? He’d be a great addition to our 2nd pairing, and along with Hartnell would fill two pretty glaring holes.

    • Jason Gregor

      I haven’t heard anything, and considering he is playing 24 minutes a night, if they are pissed with him, they aren’t showing it.

      He is an RFA this summer and in line for a big raise over the $1.3 million he is currently earning.

      He might get priced out of Philly, but I don’t see anything that suggests Laviolette is unhappy with his play.

      I bet they’d trade a forward (Hartnell and/or Gagne) so they could keep Coburn.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Thanks, just heard a few flyers fans whining about him earlier in the year. And as you’ve said, he’s in for a decent sized raise, so I figured we might be able to pluck him.

        Lets put Cogs and a third put together and get us Hartnell.

  • I don’t think that Messier should be ripped on. Even down 4-0 at this point, nobody wanted to go & play. Tough to make an elite team if”elite” players don’t want to go.

    Leighton is a great story. Picked up on re entry waivers, he has cost them SFA. I hope Montreal can make a series of it, but it might not happen.

    No comment on the first overall pick….it’s been discussed enough & I bought the t shirt for my choice.

  • Hemmertime

    “Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik have outperformed Dipietro by leaps and bounds since being drafted 2nd and 3rd in 2000.”

    I think there should be an asterisk next to this one, that was a bad draft on day 1. Especially with Luongo waiting in the wings. But no one expected NYI to throw away their pick. NYI drafts shouldn’t count

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Why didn’t anyone expect it? Milbury wanted to go down in history with that pick and pick the rare goalie. Like most of his moves it was stupid.

  • Hemmertime

    I’ve never cared about the IIHF tournament before and I’m not about to start. It’s the least important international hockey tournament.

    If the IIHF want to have the best stars in the game, they shouldn’t be holding the event directly after the NHL season and during the NHL post-season when many of the world’s best players are still competing. Hold the event during the NHL pre-season, at least then the stars have had a chance to relax and unwind before getting back to work and a tournament like that would be a good way to shake off the rust and get ready for the new year.

  • Jason Gregor

    Interesting draft info, Jason. And I’m starting to think hard about the wisdom of drafting Hall over Seguin.

    A guy who gets hits like Hall, well, his NHL career could last one shift.

    That said, I haven’t seen such raw talent in a Canadian winger since Guy Lafleur.

    Hard to resist such a player, but Seguin also sounds great and is a apparently a really smart player, not the kind of get creamed into the boards every second game.

    • Other than taking these huge hits ( that haven’t hurt him ), what are his other down falls ? What are Seguins down falls ? Why is everyone in Edmonton ( Media ) afraid to suggest any of his bad traits ? Maybe he doesn’t have any (?). How can the scouts know who will be better in 5 years ?

      Man this is crazy, I’m just glad I don’t have to make that pick.

      By the way I will switch my pick as soon as the Oilers make it. Since is obvious to you guys that Hall couldn’t work on any of his downsides and fix them.

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        have you been under a rock the last 2 years?

        halls “other” downfalls have been beaten to death. from a father who is overly involved (hello carl lindros) to reports that he isnt a very good “team” guy. Are they true? who knows

        as far as seguin goes, it was recently mentioned that some scouts are suggesting that the squeeky clean persona that has been put out there for seguin should come with a substantial grain of salt.

        how can scouts know who will be better in 5 years? they dont, thats why they have a draft. It is nothing more than a best guess scenario. You do your homework, watch as much as you can, and hope to god it works out.

  • Od rather we got Seguin because it sounds like people are making Hall out to be the Messiah, and if there is one group of people the deadbeats in this city are awesome at vilifying, its potential Messiahs

  • misfit

    Tyler Myers had a heck of a rookie season, but better than Bouwmeester? Not a chance.

    As for the Hawks, I really don’t know what they’re going to do. I don’t think it’s quite as easy as chosing between Byfuglien and Versteeg. They’ve got 3 forward lines, 2 defense pairings, and 1 goalie signed (who isn’t even the starter), and they’re already over next year’s cap. I could definitely see them moving guys like Versteeg and Sopel, but I still don’t think that’s enough. If they could find a taker for Huet, it would sure solve a lot of their problems, but I have no idea who would want him at that price.

    Oh, and pick Hall.

  • Mark this down: If Philly wins the cup, Chris stinking Pronger will finally get his due – the Conn Smythe. He deserved it in 06, he deserved it in 07, and he will deserve it again. The guy is a winner. Period. (hate to admit it).

  • I think people are worried because the majority of junior defenceman are 5’11 to 6’2 and weigh anywhere from 160 to 190 pounds so getting hit isn’t as bad. The majority of NHL defenceman are over 6′ and most are 210 pounds plus. They are also faster, more explosive, and stronger. Taylor Hall isn’t going to be able to shrug off hits from NHL D men the same as OHL D men. The fact is though that the Oilers should look at where they are weakest and that is down the middle. They already drafted two fairly talented young wingers in Eberle and MPS. And Gagner and Cogliano are not future no.1 centers and are barely pivots now, although Gagner is better than Cogliano at center.

  • I think Tayor Hall plays the way he does in Junior because he can. Does anyone really believe Taylor Hall will play as recklessly in the NHL? I am not so sure. I think it is a weak arguement for not picking him.

    If both players are equal, then I think it is OK to draft by position which would justify selecting Sequin.

    As JackBauer alluded to, we do run our “Messiahs” out of town, but I think the pressure will be doled out not on one newcomer but 3, Eberle, MPS and Hall/Sequin. A unique situation for this franchise.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Taylor Hall is the better player RIGHT NOW. Saying that, his numbers on an absolutely stacked Windsor team, were dead even with what Seguin put up on a hapless Plymouth team. (And yes, I know Hall missed some time with World Juniors,etc.)

    I think the two points almost nullify each other and one could say the production from both was amazing. However, if everyday Joe’s like me and others @ Oilernation can see that Hall gets wall-papered WAY too often, then I’m sure other GM’s are thinking the same thing.

    Nevermind the Oilers haven’t had a legit #1 center since Messi-face left for the big apple, and I think its a no brainer to take Seguin, who doesn’t have the bad raps that Hall does.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    OH, and by the way… I have always been biased towards Canadians being the best in hockey, because well- I’m Canadian.

    But watching the IIHF game today and seeing the Russian squad, showed how valuable they are when it comes down to crunch-time! To back this up I went to to look at how many Russians are even still playing for hockey holy grail….the result is embarassing!

    Evgeni Nabokov, and Andrei Markov (who’s injured for the remainder of the playoffs). THATS IT!

    6 out of 7 World Juniors, 2 out of the last 3 Olympic gold medals- Canada is by far the greatest!

    Also, had Mason been able to stop a beachball this tourney, Canada may have done better. That and Jordan Eberle looked just fine at this level on big ice…Big things to come from him!


  • Hall vs Seguin

    My mind has changed on this at least 5 times. But my final decision is for Hall. He has a natural scorers touch, a sandpaper edge and a dynamic quality. The team spent a lot of energy going after Heatley last summer because a one touch scorer is so hard to find. You can basically count on one hand the number of true one touch scorers in the league today.

    Remember, the Oilers are most likely not going to make the playoffs next which means another high draft pick. Maybe the center can be picked next year.

    The only way I would draft Seguin is by telling the Bruins that Hall is going to be picked unless they want to send a quality player like Lujic or Krejci our way. My gut feeling is the Bruins want Hall way more than Seguin.

  • Couldn’t have said it better myself. Quote from Terry Jones.

    “If they pick Hall, the headline will have an exclamation mark. If they pick Seguin, the headline will have a question mark.”

    • Crackenbury

      If the Oilers are basing their pick on what the fans want or what the headlines will be this team will stink forever. Past fan favorites include Laraque(can only turn in one direction), Moreau(although no one would admit to it now) and Schremp. Whoever the Oilers pick you gotta believe they’ve done their homework this time and support the pick. I’m starting to get a little worried Seguin will be the pick and fans will be instantly comparing stats to Hall next year and declaring the winner well before either one has had time to mature into the NHL player they are going to be. Maturity level and the ability to handle pressure have to be major factors for an Edmonton 1st overall pick.

  • From a political perspective, Hall is the safe choice. The fans want him, so if he turns out to have problems or whatever, the fans won’t blame the brass nearly as much as the opposite scenario. If he was running for Governor, Tambo should select Hall.
    In other news, have you noticed how gigantic defensemen have come in vogue since Chara and Prongs? NHL could be like the NBA someday on the backend. Giants just have an easier time on defense, with the reach, physical advantage, etc.

  • smiliegirl15

    I don’t see how Seguin will be a question mark. It’s great to have playoff guys and hopefully we’ll need them in the near future but we have to get through the 82 regular season games first. Honestly, if Seguin can be a part of getting us to the playoffs then I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of our pluggers stepping up their games to take us all the way. Byfuglien is case and point; Pisani and the 2006 edition of the Oilers are supporting cases.

    The real question should be – Can Taylor Hall perform as well without the talented supporting cast? The fact he shakes off the punishing crunches with nary an effect…so far…is a glaring red flag to me. I still think we need the centre worse than the winger, for next season, for the future.

  • Ender

    Jason, props on your article and the analysis on the first-round picks. Very enlightening.

    Question for you; you indicate that Luongo’s captaincy is a ‘failed experiment’. You may be right but I haven’t heard that anywhere else before. What makes you think that his being captain isn’t working for the Canucks?

    • I’ve heard the Luongo stuff in a few different places – from Team1260, Sportsnet, CBC, TSN – its been speculated. Even Mike Gillis & Luongo himself have spoke on this. I expect Ryan Kesler to be named their new Captain at some point this summer.

  • I’d just like to take this time to point out that when Michael Leighton was on re-entry waivers for $250,000, and the Oilers had first dibs while rolling with 2 young tenders, I said it was a no-brainer for the Oil to pick him up… guess not.

  • Ducey

    All of Terry Jones’ headlines should have question marks.

    Hopefully everyone has gotten over Eberle’s game vs Norway and realizes he needs some more seasoning in the AHL.

    Does anyone really doubt the fact that Seguin would be putting up the same points as Hall if he was on Windsor in the Memorial Cup?

    Where do people get the the idea Hall has grit? He is not the fly swatter, he’s the bug.

    Hall looks like a poor man’s Eric Lindros: Overbearing father, unwillingness to play within team, propensity to take massive hits.

    Hall is a winner? Where the hell was he in the World Juniors? Would he be a winner if he was drafted by say the Oil Kings? By that same logic Jarslav Pouzar and Dave Semenko are “winners”.

    I am constantly amazed at how short sighted people are. Penner has a bad year – lets trade him. A good year – he’s untouchable. Hall on TV every night doing what he has done all season – oh he’s awesome!

    I won’t be stupid enough to say I know more than the scouts, but I will be happy if they take Seguin. If they beat some compensation out of Boston in the process it will be an excellent draft.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    There’s only one thing left for Tambellini to do now ……camp out on Peter Chiarellis’ lawn till he can get a deal done giving us that second pick.