QJ Sports: Taylor vs. Tyler

With the National Hockey League season just around the corner, there’s always interest of who the stars of tomorrow will be. Many eyes have been on 17-year-old Canadian Connor McDavid, while others focus on American Jack Eichel as two of the top teenage prospects going forward.

McDavid has been hyped since he was 15 as the consensus #1 pick for the 2015 NHL entry draft, playing the past two years for the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters. Eichel has seen considerably less coverage, playing this upcoming year for the NCAA’s Boston University Terriers, but was recently ranked second behind McDavid on the NHL’s Central Scouting “players to watch” list.

While just about anyone you ask in hockey circles agrees McDavid is destined for stardom, history shows it’s sometimes better to be taken second. Although both players are exceptionally talented, it isn’t hard to look back to see that their careers may end up taking very opposite paths.

Four years ago, much of this talk revolved around two remarkably similar junior players: Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. In a season-long drama of ‘Taylor vs. Tyler,’ there was much debate surrounding who would ultimately be selected as the first overall pick in the upcoming 2010 NHL draft.

Hall was the face of junior hockey as the star of the Windsor Spitfires, winning back-to-back Memorial Cups as national champion, as well as two tournament MVPs. He also was a key part of Canada’s silver-medal winning lineup at the 2010 World Junior championships, putting up 12 points in just six games.

Meanwhile, Seguin was knocked out twice in the second round of the Ontario playoffs, both times by the Spitfires, and failed to make Canada’s World Junior squad. The supposed rivalry appeared to be the classic case of two great individual players, one on a deep lineup (Hall) and the other carrying a heavy load (Seguin).

Both players finished with 106 points in their final year of junior hockey, tied with each other for the OHL lead in scoring, and it remained a mystery up until draft day as to where each player would end up.

Hall ultimately ended up going first overall to the Edmonton Oilers while Seguin went second to the Boston Bruins. Looking at his draft position and his junior success, it wouldn’t be hard to argue that Hall appeared to edge out Seguin as the more accomplished of the two talents. It would be natural to assume Seguin had some jealousy towards Hall, seeing as he appeared to win the supposed competition between the two.

And yet, their two careers have taken two drastically different paths since that decisive 2010 draft. At just 22 years old, both players have clearly developed into the star players they were projected to be when drafted, but that’s about where the similarities end. Seguin has since gone on to play in 48 playoff games, two Stanley Cup finals with Boston (winning one) and been the centrepiece in a blockbuster trade that saw him sent to the Dallas Stars as part of a multi-player deal in the summer of 2013. He has led both the Stars and the Bruins in scoring, finishing fourth in the NHL with 84 points in 80 games this past year.

The Stars are widely regarded as one of the league’s top teams for this upcoming year, with Seguin regarded as a potential league MVP candidate in the next few seasons.

On the contrary we have Hall, whose happiest days in hockey seem to have been left in the past. The former first-overall pick remains stuck in the trying environment that is the Edmonton Oilers hockey club.

Once one of the league’s marquee squads, the Oilers have yet to make the playoffs with Hall on their team, perennially dwelling in the league’s basement. However, it’s hard to fault Hall, who’s put up a highly respectable 225 points in his 246 NHL games, but is clearly distanced from the typical days of playoff glory he grew accustomed to in junior.

Thus, the tales of Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin provide an interesting insight to the young hockey player, where we see a player used to winning titles trade roles with a player often pushed out of the spotlight. While it’s still early in both players’ careers, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that Tyler Seguin is more than pleased with how being drafted second turned out.

Will this also be the case with McDavid and Eichel? Only time will tell.

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