Tyler Seguin #9 of Team Orr battles with Taylor Hall #4 of Team Cherry in the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects game on January 20, 2010 at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario. Team Cherry defeated Team Orr 4-2.
Photograph by: Getty, Getty
The winner of the NHL’s draft lottery will certainly hit the jackpot with the first overall pick during the league’s annual talent sweepstakes.
And according to NHL’s Central Scouting’s final rankings released on Wednesday, the plum pick is Plymouth Whalers’ Tyler Seguin. The talented centreman, who has been compared to former National Hockey League great Steve Yzerman, earned the nod as the top North American draft-eligible player, edging out Windsor Spitfires forward Taylor Hall.
“The confidence I have in this is that, I think they’re so close, they could be flip-flopped,” E.J. McGuire, director of Central Scouting, told NHL.com. “I don't think that's at all being wishy-washy about it, but there may be something that a team sees that may sway them this much in order to pick one over the other.”
Seguin and Hall have been compared since the start of the season, so it was only appropriate that they finished the Ontario Hockey League season tied in points, with Seguin scoring 48 goals and 58 assists in 63 games, while Hall fired 40 goals and 66 assists in just 57 games. Seguin became the first player in Plymouth history to win the scoring title.
“It was a hand vote of nine guys and it was 5-4,” McGuire told NHL.com. “And the next morning, if I had taken the vote again, it would have been 5-4 the other way.”
Right-winger Brett Connolly of the Western Hockey League’s Prince George Cougars is ranked No. 3, while Kingston defenceman Erik Gudbranson is fourth and Windsor defenceman Cam Fowler is No. 5 heading into the draft, which is scheduled for June 25-26 in Los Angeles.
Similar to last year when centre John Tavares was selected by the New York Islanders first over defenceman Victor Hedman, McGuire said it could come down to the need of the team that gets the first overall selection in Tuesday’s lottery.
“Both (Victor) Hedman and (John) Tavares were a lot closer than the pundits think,” McGuire told the website. “But for the position, there was nothing to separate Tavares and Hedman last year. Both (Hall and Seguin) play forward, but one plays a real specialty position of centre.”
Hall was ranked first during the midterm rankings released in January, while Seguin was second. Connolly climbed from fourth to third after scoring 10 goals and 19 assists in 16 games after missing most of the season with hip and groin injuries.
“Tyler Seguin makes things happen every time he is on the ice and he makes his teammates better,” said Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards. “He's a skilled forward. He's a guy that's obviously a top-line forward with all kinds of puck skills and playmaking abilities. . . . He's an elusive guy in traffic, avoiding checks with the puck. Not too much bad I can say about him.”
As for Hall, who scored 38 goals and 52 assists last season for Windsor, he’s the complete package.
“This guy is a high-end prospect, there are no two ways about it,” said Edwards. “Puck skills, skating — there's really nothing you don't like about the guy.”
Among goaltenders, Seattle Thunderbirds stopper Calvin Pickard remained atop the rankings where he was during the January release, with U.S. development team goalie Jack Campbell ranked second.
On the international rankings, Finnish forward Mikael Granlund remains on top, with Russian right-winger Vladimir Tarasenko ranked second, and Russian centre Evgeny Kuznetsov at No. 3.
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