Taylor Less Than Tyler?
The Maple Leafs aren't the only team these days who might watch Tyler Seguin play and wonder about what might have been.
Now, we won't actually know the real answer to whether the Edmonton Oilers were correct in selecting Taylor Hall first overall ahead of Seguin in the Great Draft Debate of 2010 for quite some time, but we do know for sure that better health has followed Seguin so far, he has a Stanley Cup ring and Hall, for the second straight year, will end the season on the injured list.
Let's compare, while all the while keeping in mind that Seguin plays for a much stronger Boston team. That means two things; he doesn't necessarily get the ice time and opportunities that Hall does, but on the other hand, being surrounded with better players can allow for a steeper improvement curve.
For starters, Seguin has played 149 games in his first two seasons compared to 126 for Hall. Seguin had 11 goals in spot duty last year, while this year in a full-time role he has 26 goals, 35 assists and a superb plus-28 rating, again at least partly a function of being on a sturdy Bruins squad. Hall had 22 goals in his rookie season, and this year has 27 goals and 26 assists to go with a minus-three rating.
Over two seasons, Seguin's points-per-game ratio is .56, while Hall's is much better at .75 points per game. Just five of Seguin's 37 career goals have come on the powerplay, and six have been game-winners; 21 of Hall's 49 goals have been scored on the power play with 11 game winners.
Statisically, then, Hall is still ahead, although again, its worth keeping in mind he has received many more opportunities in goal-scoring situations on a free-wheeling Edmonton team, while Seguin had to serve an apprenticeship last year and is somewhat confined by Claude Julien's tight-checking system.
Seguin already has 13 games of Stanley Cup playoff experience, while its unclear when Hall will get to play his first post-season match, a far cry from his days with the wildly successful Windsor Spitfires of the OHL.
That brings us to the health issue, and there seems to be a little bit of Wendel Clark Syndrome to Hall in terms of his sometimes kamikaze-style of play, the number of games he has already missed to injury and the wide variety of problems he has encountered.
Hall has been shut down this season with two problems. He hasn't played since March 16 because of a concussion, and a torn shoulder labrum that has been a problem since junior hockey will now require surgery which will sideline him for 5-6 months. Hall apparently has been playing with a badly damaged shoulder this season since Nov. 26.
Two teammates, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, have had the same shoulder surgery that is now pending for Hall, and its an open question as to whether either Horcoff or Hemsky has been the same player since.
Earlier this season, Hall also suffered a gruesome, 30-stitch facial laceration during warmup when he was accidentally kicked in the head by a teammate. He wasn't wearing a helmet.
Last season, in early March he suffered a season ending high ankle sprain in a fight with Derek Dorsett of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was third in NHL rookie scoring at the time.
With this year's No. 1 pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, having also had to deal with injuries, its an intriguing question as to whether saddling 18-year-olds with heavy workloads in an NHL that includes, by the league's own stats, much more hitting and physical play than before the lockout exposes them to a greater injury risk before their teenage bodies are ready for it.
In the case of Hall and RNH, they've both had to play a lot as 18-year-olds, and usually against the best defenders of the opposing team. Last season, Hall averaged 18:12 of ice time per game, about the same as this season (18:13).
With Seguin, he was 17th on the Bruins in total ice time with 12:12 last year, and while increased to 16:58 this season, its still less than Hall has averaged either season.
Both are breathtaking young talents, and only Jeff Skinner, at this point, is arguably a better player out of the '10 draft class. Interestingly, Skinner has also been battered by injury issues this season in his second NHL campaign.
So the Taylor vs. Tyler debate will continue to be an interesting one, unlikely to be resolved in any meaningful way for another, oh, 15 years. You can argue this one about six different ways. But if Hall can't stay healthier than he's been able to so far in two NHL seasons, it doesn't bode well.