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.

  • Skidplate

    I agree we can use a high end center, however, Seguin will most likely return to junior next year, while Hall would probably make the team. I think manangement and fans want to see this pick play in the NHL next season.

    • Jason Gregor

      You don't pick Hall just because he might play here next year. And why do think Seguin will go to junior.

      Compare him to Matt Duchene. They are very similar and Duchene sure doesn't look like he needed another year in junior. Not sure why you think Seguin is likely to go to junior.

      • Tyler Seguin will NOT return to Plymouth.

        The Whalers lose most of their roster.

        Returning a #1 pick to a rebuilding OHL team isn't smart, or safe.

        If Seguin plays 10-15 minutes per game like Duchene & O'Reilly he'll get 30-35 points for his rookie season.

        PPG Second year in OHL

        Tavares 2.0
        Stamkos 1.72
        SEGUIN 1.68
        Hall 1.42
        Duchene 1.38

        This is a no brainer folks..

        How many Cups do Iginla,Heatley,Gaborik,Vanek,Kovalchuk,Ovechkin, and insert 40+ Goal scoring winger have? ZERO!

      • Skidplate

        It's just from the articles I have read. From what I recall, he isn't as strong and his body isn't as mature. Hall would be a good choice since it sounds like he is NHL ready, he is a goal scorer, strong skater, etc.

        I'm not saying Hall is the choice, just that Oiler Nation needs a spark next year. If Seguin can make the team next year, great, if not, they may lean towards Hall.

        I'm a Scientist! makes a good point in regards to Eberle, he can be our spark next year, with all our returning injured players it may turn out OK.

    • I'm a Scientist!

      I think management can use Eberle to soften the blow of sending Seguin to the minors. Besides one more year in the tank brings us another high draft pick to add to our arsenal. Bring on the 'No Hockey Heaven in 2011, Leads to Champion Team in 2013' campaign.

      hmm, that name may need some work.

  • Jason Gregor

    Gregor or anyone with an opinion, if we pick Seguin does he get sent back to JR.? He will only be 18 at the start of the season and if we are in a full rebuild do they give him some time to develop, Stauffer was asked this and said NO he will stay with the big club, I don't know if you keep him he has to stay (no ahl for him).

    • Mike Modano's Dog

      The Oilers would have the option of playing Hall/Seguin in the NHL next year or returning them to junior. They could not send them to the A.H.L. next year, it is not an option.

      The truth is I believe it is going to be a close call on Tyler Seguin IF we draft him. He is clearly a highly skilled player…but he also has the build of a light-weight aluminum rake at this point, rather than a full-blown old-timey wooden one. I hope he puts on some good weight over the summer. It would be great if he was ready to come in and play in the N.H.L. months from now. But it's not that easy. I know fully that almost all Oilers fans would want to see him play with the big club next year, and so would I IF that was the best thing for his development going forward.

      A couple concerns I have with his ability to play in the N.H.L. full-time next year would be:

      – He couldn't crack the World Junior line-up last year, so if he wasn't ready for that yet as pretty well all the experts agreed last year what makes us think he can play at a dominant level in the NHL next year?

      – He is nowhere near the physical maturity of Taylor Hall. In the best league in the world playing against men he is going to need to be fill out his lanky frame for his own safety, and also to be able to dominate. He wasn't yet ready to dominate in his second playoff series.

      – This one is for Jason Gregor: Matt Duchesne is a rare case, and is the EXCEPTION to the rule, and not the norm for first-round talents.

      So, we will have to see about Tyler Seguin IF he is picked by the Oilers, as to whether or not he is returned to juniors. One thing is sure though, it is NOT a slam-dunk either way, in my opinion.

      I could see it being a real tough decision, like when the Senators decided to keep Spezza down in the minors. You can see now that it was the right move. As well, look at how keeping Boyd Devereaux and Joe Thornton seemed to hinder their development (yes, I purposely picked two players with vastly different skills and careers, but with the same look back at not sending them back down.)

      We will have to see what he looks like in camp, how ready he is physically, to be able to really give a valid opinion. But if you want a guess right now, today I say he gets sent down for one more year, if the Oilers pick him.

      Taylor Hall plays next year in the N.H.L. – he is ready.

      • Jason Gregor

        – This one is for Jason Gregor: Matt Duchesne is a rare case, and is the EXCEPTION to the rule, and not the norm for first-round talents.

        So, we will have to see about Tyler Seguin IF he is picked by the Oilers, as to whether or not he is returned to juniors. One thing is sure though, it is NOT a slam-dunk either way, in my opinion.

        Curious who you think he is the exception to the rule?

        John Tavares 22 goals as a rookie, Duchene 24, Stamkos 23, Kane 21 and Jordan Staal 29. All of these guys played as 18-year old and all were top-three picks in the past four years.

        Why is Duchene the exception, and why is it so unbelievable to think Seguin can't be the same?

  • My only problem with Seguin over Hall is we have Gagner and Horcoff as our centers. Not saying this is ideal but Gagner clearly needs top 2 time and Horcoff makes $5.5 mill cap hit and is unmoveable. Unless you commit to sticking him 3rd line someone will have to be bumped to fit in Seguin. Alternatively we have Penner on LW…..that is all. Wouldn't hurt to have 2 LW that can play would it?

    Also Hall went 3-3-6 +7 in the playoff series while Seguin went 0-0-0 -6. I realize Windsor is 10 times better than Plymouth but that is an ugly showing.

    • You cant count on Horc to be a top two centre for the next 5 years (his contract) when he couldnt hold the position down this year. It doesnt matter how much he makes. Eberle is a winger, arent we expecting him to play?

      If the team is paying him 5.5 to play the 3rd line then there isnt much they can do about, but salary cant determine position.

  • DougWeightProblem

    "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 four goalies chosen in the first round have won the Stanley Cup: Tom Barrasso, Grant Fuhr, Martin Brodeur 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."
    – JG

    Make that five: Fleury's won a cup too (just sayin'. Your point is still valid).

    • Jason Gregor

      Actually it should read six, not four…I meant to include Fleury and Ward from the previous paragraph but, in my infinite wisdom I somehow deleted that part and forgot to add them in the next paragraph. My bad. Thanks.

    • Did you see where Patrik Stefan played in his draft year? He played for the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the IHL where he scored 35 points in 33 games. Why any team looked at his competition and his performance and said "This guy is the Number 1 pick overall." is beyond me. They could have taken a Sedin, but instead decided to do Burkie a favour.

      • They more than likely couldn't have taken a Sedin though. They were going to do everything in their power to play together, including skipping the draft entirely and holding out for free agency where a team could sign them both.
        And while Stefan is easily the worst first overall pick ever, in my mind, have you seen the rest of his draft class? Just horrible.
        Who were they supposed to take? Pavel Brendl? Kriss Beech? Tim Connolly? Connolly would have been okay in the long run, but even still he would have been looked at as a bust of a first overall pick.

        I have no idea why I'm defending Patrik Stefan, but I think we should cut Atlanta a little slack. Although, The Long Beach Ice Dogs? How did they even find him?????

        • Yeah, that is the worst draft class in recent history I'm sure. I dont know what the deal really was with the Sedins. Havlat went 26th in that draft. If Atlanta could have a do-over and still not take a Sedin my guess is they'd go with Havlat, even with the injuries.

          • Hell Comrie is closing in on 400 points and he didn't go until the third round.
            I also wonder if Zetterberg would be as good as he is now if it weren't for the mind blowing luck/incredibly development program that Wings have.

            I think everyone needs to forget about Patrik Stefan forever since his draft class is such a weird black hole. I know we Oiler fans love to be the most pessimistic people in the room, but now is not the time!

    • Wow, that's like saying 'shutout' 15 times in a row while you close out the last minute of a telecast TB.

      If the draft pick doesn't work out I am holding you responsible and I will carry a personal grudge against you for the next 30 seasons.*

      *Years added in the event of further lockout(s)

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      Don't be so hard on Patrick Stefan. For all our talk about wanting someone to own the highlight reel…

      ….

      What's that?

      Oh.

      Never mind.

  • Jamie B.

    Hey Gregor, random question, but I was wondering if injured guys like Gagner will make the road trip. Sort of one last chance to hang out as a team, or do they not care about things like that?

  • Calgary could try to move Iginla for the 2nd pick all they want. Any GM worth their salt will take the 18 year old phenom with 7 years of service before UFA status over an Winger on the wrong side of 30 with 1 year left on a 7 million dollar deal.

  • Skidplate

    Gregor,

    Great article, back to Seguin and Hall. The talk between my buddies and I have been who is the best player, and my argument has always been who is best for the Oilers. This is clearly more important, and I feel that the centre is maybe our most needed position at the moment. Your article just gives me more breadth to my argument. Cheers!

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I really don't think too hard anymore over this Hall/Seguin scenario. There is still a chance we have no choice, so I'm not going to get my hopes up for one of them and then see those hopes crushed. I'll be fine with either.

    I think Calgary should tell Daryl to take over the coaching duties. He built this team, he has went through 4 coaches in 5 years. Maybe he gets one last chance.

    Too tough to pick who will be better next year, I say the Flames will be but there is nothing saying they won't blow up the team and rebuild either.

    Also interesting story about that slovenian coach making his backup drive drunk, the guy then crashed and 6 of the players beat the crap out of the coach.