Big Decisions: Taylor Hall over Tyler Seguin

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.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • treevojo

    It is Joke firing the coach and thinking this will help Oilers they have soo many holes they can’t afford picking one problem over the other in the draft. They need to pick BPA.

  • RPG

    I remember this board before Seguin got hot in last years playoffs, they trashed him.

    Taylor Tyler controversy was not suppose to start 1st year Taylor was way ahead of him, the reason some experts liked Tyler is they thought he had a upside.

    If i had to choose today who I would pick it would be Taylor.

  • RPG

    The tough thing to know barring of course a DMC-12 DeLorean or crystal ball, is whether Seguin would have developed the same under the Oilers guidance? He was well protected and sheltered on a deep Boston team that would go on to win the cup. How would the Oilers have played Seguin? Would he have played center? How many minutes a game vs what type of competition? Would he have made the team or gone back to the Whalers? Nobody can answer those questions with any amount of certainty. Part of the reason the Oilers chose Hall is they knew he’d be able to step onto a 30th place hockey club and make them better. That could not have been predicted necessarily for Seguin. Given how the Oilers have so far floundered such developmental projects as Pääjärvi, Lander, Omark, and Hartikainen, I’d say the Tyler Seguin we know today, that was developed by the Stanley cup champion Boston Bruins, would not be the same had his name been called by the 30th placed Edmonton Oilers. Just my opinion folks!

  • Jonathan,

    Assuming the Oil do take Yakupov, what do you see happening with the second line centre position?

    Without getting into a massive Ganger debate, I just don’t see him having the potential to carry the second line(I know I’m not alone on this). Is there a serious chance that Hall will be moved to Centre?

    • I don’t see it, but then I’m not coaching the team (at the moment, nobody is). And I think more of Gagner than most; as the roster’s currently constructed I think he’s the best bet as C2, behind RNH and ahead of Horcoff.

  • Oilers4ever

    I don’t know how there is any debate on this. People compare Hall to Messier for his desire and leadership potential. Seguin is a good player, but nowhere near that kind of potential. Hall had 6 less points and played fewer games. Seems pretty cut and dry to me. They two are not comparable. Seguin doesn’t have the drive, desire or explosiveness that Hall has. I watched some of the Bruins past season. I didn’t see those types of aspects to Seguin’s game.

    Seguin is also playing on a team stacked with veternan talent compared to the Oilers and still barely beat Hall in points including Hall missing the games he did. This is an easy call, there is no debate.

    Seguin is going to be good, but Hall will be much better.

    • There’s not much meat in that – I’ve already covered the shot metrics and situational play. Seguin’s a slightly better scorer this year 5v5, much worse last year, on a /60 basis.

      Hall was a top option for an excellent PP, Seguin a top option for a worse power play. Both easily first unit attackers on a /60 basis.

      That’s it.

      As for your other concern – Seguin playing on the wing – you’ll note that was addressed ~2 hours before your comment.

  • treevojo

    Hall is faster and has more fire in his eyes.

    If oil had take Seguin he would have been targeted like Hall was and probably injured.

    Seguin is a nice player but you put him with our team and you would have him scoring much less than Hall.

  • JOFA

    Seguin was a centre in junior, in the NHL he’s a right winger.

    2011-2012 regular season stats:
    Seguin in the circle: 46/106 43.4%
    Hall in the circle: 23/57 40.4%

  • DSF

    What is missing in that comparison is Sequin plays RW not centre. So while everything that is mentioned is accurate, the quote “but Seguin plays a more influential position – centres controlling the game to a greater degree than wingers.” is missing information.

    We have no idea if Sequin will eventually (I am sure he will be eased into it) become a top end center in the NHL. So when making comparisons at least for now, it should be Hall the LW VS Sequin the RW. We can’t talk about how Hall plays a less important role and Sequin a more valuable one ,when in fact, he does not.

    • That’s a fair point.

      I expect he’s playing wing in Boston because the Bruins have a bunch of depth down the middle – if they end up dealing Krejci I expect to see Seguin moved to centre.

      But as of right now, you’re correct and I’ll note it in the post.

  • JOFA

    JW wrote:

    “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.”

    This seems to be the conventional wisdom, I’m not saying that I doubt it to be true, but have you ever looked into the difference between C’s and W’s? Is there actually a big difference, visible from the stats available now?

    If you haven’t, have you ever read anything about that, do you have any links handy?

    • I don’t have much in the way of statistical evidence to back up the point, but you may have seen the Tarasov numbers project we’ve been doing at Cult of Hockey in the post-season – centres typically handle the puck far more than either winger.

      If we continue the project into next season I expect I will have some solid stats to back it up; as of now I’m mostly leaning on conventional wisdom and personal observation.

  • OilerLand

    Taylor Hall is the better pick simply because the pick was going to be the face of the franchise. Seguin comes off as a douchebag and would have been a harder sell IMO. Seguin is a terrific player but Hall is in a position to be much more than simply a player.

    • DSF

      Yes I would have.

      Said so at the time and still feel that way.

      They were so close before the draft, choosing the centre would have been the right choice….never mind that Hall’s style of play will likely have him in the infirmary a much higher percentage of the time.

      Centre depth is one of the keys to winning championships.

      The Oilers don’t have any.

      • treevojo

        Hey DSF. It’s almost like Willis wanted us to continue our discussion from last night with this article. I don’t think you replied to my last comment from last night. I will have to go back and check now.

        Edit. Just checked and no reply.

        • DSF

          Gagner was still being sheltered in his 5th season in the league.

          Not likely you’ll win much when both your top centres need sheltering to that degree,

          There’s no way the Oilers would have known they could trade down and take a centre way back when they drafted Hall instead of Seguin and I doubt they do that in any case.

          Hopkins, Gagner, Horcoff and Belanger is likely the worst centre depth in the league.

          • DSF

            Really?

            Calgary – Jokinen (UFA) – Cervenka – Backlund – Stajan

            Columbus – Johansen – Brassard – McKenzie – Boyce – Gillies

            Florida – Weiss – Goc – Madden – Santorelli -(Bjugstad and Howden in the bullpen)

            Montreal – Plekanec – Desharnais – Eller – Gomez

            Ottawa – Spezza – Turris – Smith – Knopka

            Phoenix – Vermette – Hanzal – Langkow – Gordon – Chipchura – Brule

            STL – Backes – Berglund – Arnott – Nicholl

            Toronto – Grabovski – Bozak – Connolly – Lombardi – Steckel

            Winnipeg – Little – Wellwood – Antropov – Slater – Burmistrov – Stapleton

            While Hopkins is certainly the cream of the crop, I think it would be pretty hard to argue that any of those teams with the possible exception of Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto would swap their centre group for the Oilers’.

            I’m sure every one of them would love to have Hopkins but I don’t see Gagner, Horcoff and his contract or Belanger being attractive to any of them.

          • You see, DSF, this is why you have no friends, have been banned by your World of Warcraft guild, and spend your days down in your mother’s basement wondering why you keep getting C minuses on those poli-sci papers, when you are sure they are worth at least an A. You have no idea how to construct an argument, invariably confuse opinion with fact, ignore those inconvenient bits of data that undermine your biased viewpoint, and revert to invective and noise when your silly statements are exposed for what they are: the ravings of sad, strange little troll. I particularly love this example: “It would be pretty hard to argue that ANY of these teams, with THE POSSIBLE EXCEPTION OF CALGARY, WINNIPEG, and TORONTO…” In other words, a full third of the teams mentioned. WTF?

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Yes really. You know you’ve been busted when you try and squeez contracts into it, after they weren’t part of the original discussion.

            keep trying to move the goal posts, at least you are good at that

          • DSF

            Phhhttt…players come with contracts unless they’re free agents in which case none of them would be mentioned at all.

            Bottom line is the Oilers have a dreadful group of centres with Hoppy, Sam Wellwood, Horcoff and Belanger.

            The team would be in much, much better shape if Hopkins and Seguin were anchoring the top two lines.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            PPG for the 4 highest scoring centers on the team (from NHL.com) includes games from previous team if a player was acquired mid season:

            Oilers .503ppg

            Florida .431

            Canucks .523

            Sabres .454

            BJ’s .375

            Habs .541

            Coyotes .421

            NJ .544

            Blues .424

            Leafs .544

            Stars .396

            Jets .527

            Ducks .482

            Sure theirs more to it then that, but that’s by far and away the most important piece.

            I see 3 division winners (far) below the oil on that metric, and their are a few other good teams that aren’t much better then the above.

            There are enough legitimate weakness about the oil that can be pointed out, no need for you to make up new ones that aren’t even correct.

          • DSF

            Hey Bud, I was using the teams YOU suggested.

            And you’re right, there is more to it than that…like being able to keep the puck out of your own net.

            By your metric, the Leafs have much better centre depth than the Oilers (because they score more) but I don’t think you would find one expert hockey guy who thinks the Leafs don’t need to address the centre position.

            If the Leafs are that bad, and the Oilers are worse, draw your own conclusions.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I suggested a handful of teams that werent overly deep down the middle. Further reaserch showed a lot more.

            Anyway, your bluff has been called. The center depth of the oil is no where near worst in the league.

          • DSF

            Really?

            Where’s the evidence?

            Last season:

            Gagner – 18G 29A 47P +5

            Wellwood – 18G 29A 47P +3

            P/60 5V5:

            Gagner – 1.96

            Wellwood – 2.15

            Both players were up against poor competition.

            Gagner played 2:27 PPTOI/G while Wellwood played 1:59 PPTOI/G

            Looks like a wash to me.

          • Wax Man Riley

            Gagner. 5’10” 191lbs born 1989. 366gp 220pts

            Wellwood. 5’10” 180lbs born 1983. 450gp 220pts

            Gagner. All. Day. Long.

            Younger, bigger, better player.

          • DSF

            Yeah, those extra 11 pounds make all the difference in the world.

            Get back to me when Gagner actually outscores a 29 year old, former 5th round draft pick who plays for $700k a season.

          • Wax Man Riley

            Did you miss the spot where I pointed out that Gagner HAS OUTSCORED Wellwood:

            366gp 220pts vs 450gp 220pts

            That is outscoring.

            If Gagner goes the next 84 games without a point, I will concede. But I would take Gagner on my team about 3 draft rounds sooner than I take Wellwood.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Hey, wellwood had a solid season as the 4rth highest scoring forward on a team that was in the playoff race until the last week or so, good for him.

            Doesn’t change the fact that Gagner is rounding into a good 2C, or that he’s had a better career then wellwood./p>

          • 50 in 39

            With that type of in-depth player analysis I am not sure why you don’t just go be a pro scout rather than trolling ON.

            Gagner has superior numbers as has already been pointed out, was baptized by fire into the NHL at 18 years old and is still four years away from entering the prime of his career. Wellwood has been in the prime of his career for two years now and can’t even stick with a team.

            If you don’t like Gagner fine but your comparison is horrible as usual.

        • RexLibris

          Would you recommend the Oilers select Galchenyuk over Yakupov? Or Grigorenko over Yakupov?

          Given that this is the third consecutive first overall for the Oilers I feel they have the luxury of leaving some talent on the table, so to speak, and making a pick that makes the core they already have a more complete unit, rather than adding more “chrome to the fenders”.

          I don’t think there is anything, intrinsically, that says a winger can’t be as much of a playmaker as a center, I just wonder if Galchenyuk or Grigorenko might not become significant long-term upgrades over the current and potential players at the second-line center position.

          • No, I wouldn’t.

            I’d take Yakupov at the draft unless someone – say Toronto – was willing to pay big to move up.

            On the other hand, I don’t make those decisions for the team, and I recognize that not taking Yakupov is something the Oilers may choose to do.

          • John Chambers

            What do you think an overpayment by Burke would look like? Do you think a package that includes Gunnarsson, Reimer, and the 5th overall with the #1 and Khabibulin going back the other way looks like a fair deal or an overpayment?

            Would you rather substitute Gardiner for either Reimer or Gunnarsson in that equation?

          • That strikes me as an overpayment on Toronto’s part, but that’s good because that’s the only way I’d move the 1st overall pick – in an overpayment deal.

            And I’d love to add Gardiner. Smid, Gardiner and Schultz solve the left side for a long time, and if you have Petry (and maybe the other Schultz) on the right side you’re 5/7ths of the way to a heck of a blue line.

            Again, I’d have to think about it to be sure (Yakupov’s a heck of a player) but I think I’d be willing to make the deal. I have serious doubts the Leafs would go for it, but as Oilers GM I would.

          • treevojo

            You didn’t ask me, but I’ll answer anyways!

            They do not have the luxury of leaving talent on the table. Some (not necessarily including you here) act as though this is a top 5 offence in the league, along with a bottom 5 defence. The reality is the Oilers were 20th in the NHL in GF last year, and 23rd in GA.

            Even if Grig and Gal are long term upgrades over the prospective guys at their position, that doesn’t mean Yakupov wouldn’t be the same.