Today the Jason Gregor Show had a guest that is sure to send exactly 1/2 of the OilersNation hearts all aflutter. As an OilersNation Exclusive, Jason Gregor chats with Tyler Seguin and gets his thoughts on the draft, competing against Taylor Hall to become the first pick this summer and what he needs to work on to succeed in the NHL.
JG: Are you getting tired of the Tyler v. Taylor debate?
SEGUIN: I think in my draft year it is a huge accomplishment being ranked so high. It’s getting kind of funny. I just got into Windsor through the border and the security guards don’t even ask for my passport this time. They say ‘Hey what’s going on with you and Hall, are you buddies, is Edmonton giving you a little scoop on what’s going on?’ It’s all fun.
JG: Do you and Hall have any sort of friendship/relationship?
SEGUIN: Sometimes the media makes it seem like we are enemies, but we’ve actually only met twice. We kind of joked around that we should make some stuff up, but I’ve only met him twice, he seemed like a good guy, and that’s as far as our friendship went.
JG: Is it frustrating watching the Memorial Cup and watching Hall light it up, and unlike the regular season, you don’t have a chance to counter punch what he is doing right now?
SEGUIN: It’s definitely a little frustrating. That being said, Hall and I both had 60 regular season games and playoffs so I think the scouts got to see what they wanted to see. And now Hall is getting the bonus, the Mem Cup, but he’s getting that and I’m getting the bonus off the ice. I get a lot more time to work out and stuff like that, so I think it’s kind of a win-win on both sides.
JG: What have you been working on specifically to improve your game and excel at the NHL level?
SEGUIN: Still all the little things that I’ve been working on for the last two years. Especially coming into my draft year, I wanted to get much better in my own zone, and I definitely accomplished that, but you can never be too perfect. And then off the ice, just getting the chance and opportunity to go to the next level I definitely feel I need to get stronger in certain areas and put on some more weight.
JG: Your coach told me that you wanted to become more of a goal scorer this year. You accomplished that by going from 21 goals your rookie season to 48. What did you work on specifically to become a better goal scorer?
SEGUIN: This past summer I shot on goalies all summer long at John Elkon goalie school in Mississauga and I think that definitely helped. Just coming into this year I really wanted to show I could be a complete player whether that being a play maker or a goal scorer.
That was a big goal of mine and it worked out, because I think at the next level you’re going to walk in there and you could be a playmaker, you could be a goal scorer or you could be a penalty killer. I just wanted to show that I could really do everything.
JG: Goal scoring is the hardest skill to teach. It’s really hard to teach a guy to be a goal scorer. You can shoot on those goalies all you want, but that doesn’t mean you will have the ability to pick the corner. That has to give you confidence that not only did you work on it, but that you have the ability to score in confined areas.
SEGUIN: I think when you become a goal scorer you still have to have that God-given skill and touch around the net. I think working on the little things like making my shot harder this summer really paid off.
JG: What is your mind set coming into the combine? Have you got any sort of insight into what to expect? The psychological evaluation and questions that you will get put through must be different than what you are normally used to?
SEGUIN: Absolutely. Through my agent and the older players that I know who have been through the experience there are definitely some tricky questions. In the end in all the interviews and psychological stuff I just want to be myself. I don’t want to go in there and tell teams what the really want to hear, I want to tell them how I feel. I think in the end that will help the team that picks me, or wants me the most, and that’s what I will be satisfied with.
JG: Having you name in the public eye as much as it has been in the past eight months, has it forced you mature more than most 17-year-olds? You have to keep your nose clean because you are Tyler Seguin and potentially the first overall pick in the NHL draft, and there are not many guys in the world who can say that will happen to them. Has that been a stressful thing at all for a young guy like you?
SEGUIN: I don’t know if it stressful. Coming into the year it has been a bit of an adjustment. I came in ranked 9th or 10th overall before the year started. I went out there and just played my game, and learned lots during a couple of goal less streaks. In the end I adapted well and I think going to the next level you will be in the spotlight a bit, but showing how I adapted and matured in this situation definitely helped me.
JG: What are some things that allowed you to catapult into the top spot with the number one ranking? What areas of your game do you think you made the most strides in that caught the scout’s attention?
SEGUIN: Just the little things. This past summer you know shooting on goalies or working out hard. I knew coming into this year I wanted to be strong in my own end and be a full-time centreman, which I was; even though I played the wing on some key goal scoring situations. I think coming in playing that type of game really helped me scouting wise, and started showing people what they wanted to see out of me as a player.
JG: Who were your hockey idols growing up, I guess you aren’t an old guy, so who are the guys you are still a big fan of and maybe pattern your game after?
SEGUIN: Definitely when I was younger I looked up to my father, who played at the University of Vermont , but I never got to see him play. A big player that has been my role model, although I didn’t get to see him too many years, was Steve Yzerman.
He’s such a great player and conducted himself so well off the ice. And then last year when I got the chance to meet the guy when he was scouting, I was definitely a little star struck and wanted to get on my knees and ask for an autograph, but I tried to stay humble and be as professional as I could. (laughing)
JG: Your father played at the University of Vermont, did he ever try to influence you to go the NCAA route?
SEGUIN: Absolutely. I think my whole life I was probably going to go to the University of Michigan. I went to Red Berenson’s camp and that was the route I thought I was going to take. Then I sat down and looked at the two different routes and thought the OHL was a quicker route to the NHL, you could say, then I had my growth and I thought it was the right way for me; and now it has paid off.
JG: It is a great debate in Edmonton right now. There are factions of TEAM Hall and TEAM Seguin in ways, and some have a little more of a like on for either one of you. People that are from Hall’s camp state you’ve only ever done it for one year in the OHL. How do you answer that? Are you a late bloomer, did you hit your growth spurt later than others and how did you emerge from being number ten to a bonafide number one or number two?
SEGUIN: I guess you could say that. Hall and I have such different games, I’m more of a centreman, play my own zone and carry the puck into the offensive zone, and he is a pure goal scorer. It just comes down to what the team wants. I guess I was more of a late bloomer.
I was very good when I was nine to twelve, and then I never grew and I kind of got out of the spotlight. Then my rookie season I came in ninth overall (drafted in OHL) and I just kept on getting better. Now I thrive to stay as consistent as I can throughout this year, and the following years ahead of me.
JG: Who has had the biggest influence on the improvements you made as a hockey player?
SEGUIN: I think I have a huge supporting cast, anywhere from advice from my agent, to my family and friends and then most importantly; my head coach, Mike Vellucci. In my rookie year he sat me down and I realized that this NHL dream of mine is now a goal and I got some more confidence under my belt. Coming into this year he said I had to get better in my own zone to have a complete game and get to the next level, and that is the little thing I’ve been working on.
JG: You say it is a little thing, but that has be one of the hardest things. Growing up as kids everybody loves to score. Playing defense takes more work and more dedication. Was it hard for you to get into that mindset and did your coach hammer on you to say ‘we know your offence, but we want you to improve in your own zone?’ Getting the maturity and responsibility to be a guy who wants to improve his defensive game had to be hard for you?
SEGUIN: Definitely it was. I think the big word there is maturity. I always wanted to be a goal scorer, and then I had to realize that if I wanted to get to the next level it’s about the little things. Being good in your own end is the first and most important thing. Once I started getting better in my own end it helped me in the offensive zone.
I’d have games there where I’d cheat offensively and I’d get no points and I’d get a minus. I actually got benched for the first time in my career this year, because of it, and that was another wake up call. I realized that I have to be more mature about my game and then everything else will fall into place.
JG: It takes a very mature and humble person to admit you can learn from a benching. A lot of people now think it is the worst thing in the world and a coach should never do it because it’s humiliating. You were clearly the best player in Plymouth, so was there a conversation with your coach or did you know at the time why you were benched?
SEGUIN: I knew at the time, but I’m the type of guy who always wants to be on the ice, whether it is two-one hockey game or a ten-one hockey game and I think my coaches and teammates will back that up. Sitting on the bench, and it being my first experience, was stressful and frustrating, but the next game I bounced back and had a great game. I knew what I did wrong, and I just learnt from my mistakes and tried to be mature about it.
JG: You’re up against an Oiler prospect, Jordan Eberle, for player of the year. What would player of the year honours mean to you, and is it a bit ironic that you are going up against a guy who could potentially be your teammate in five weeks?
SEGUIN: It’s definitely cool. Being one of the nominees for such a big award is something very special. Being only my second year, I’m just an 18-year-old kid in high school, and winning and being recognized for these awards is something I’ve very proud of. If this was two years ago I don’t know if I’d be able to say this about myself, but I’m very humble and confident in my skills these days and it is definitely something pretty cool.
JG: You mentioned you couldn’t say that two years ago. Was confidence something you had to work on as a player and a person?
SEGUIN: I was definitely very good when I was younger and then coming into the OHL, I was confident but I wasn’t the first or second pick overall, I was ninth overall. Even though I said I was going to go to school (NCAA) I was still went ninth overall. I had to adjust to the OHL and then once that started happening, I started working more on the little things about confidence issues, and ever since then it’s been all up hill.
JG: How big is your graduation going to be? Not many guys are going to their grad and then going to LA for the draft. Your buddies must be having a lot of fun with you right now?
SEGUIN: They definitely are. Of course they are going to crack jokes here and there and pretend they are Taylor Hall on the ice and dangling me or something like that. I guess it’s a little easier because I’m in the United States ; I’m not on a Canadian team in the OHL. In the US, hockey isn’t number one so not so many people recognize me and it takes a bit of the tension off and let’s me be a regular high school kid so graduation will be fun for me.
JG: What classes do you excel at? What is your favourite course in school?
SEGUIN: Right now I have to take US history and American Literature which are two US courses. My other course, which is my favourite, is public speaking because I’ve had more experience with that and it helps me to still get better with any upcoming opportunities at public speaking.
JG: Who was your favourite team growing up?
SEGUIN: I was always just a local boy. I never had a favourite team. I cheered for Toronto growing up, and now that I moved to Detroit I’m cheering for Detroit . Right now in the playoffs I’m cheering for Montreal , because they are the underdogs and I know Montreal is a crazy city and I’m also a French-Canadian so I’m going for Montreal .
JG: Thanks for your time, best of luck at your grad and best of luck going up against Jordan Eberle for player of the year.
SEGUIN: Thanks a lot.
There you have it Nation. I think whichever team drafts Seguin will be getting a mature young man who knows what he wants. Either the Bruins or Oilers will be happy to draft such a classy kid.