EDMONTON - Part II of the Taylor Hall-Tyler Seguin Edmonton Oilers Dog & Pony Show was just as impressive as Part I.
There’s no dog here. And both ponies proved themselves to be thoroughbreds under thorough examination from the Edmonton media mob.
As well as Hall handled himself a week earlier, Seguin looked totally at ease, relaxed, comfortable, confident, poised and showed a sense of humour and affability. He definitely didn’t suffer by comparison on The Sun scorecard.
How Seguin did at lunch with Oilers executives, the staff in his visit to Rexall Place, or owner Daryl Katz at his $8 million house Thursday night, who knows?
“I’m excited to meet the owner. My biggest concern is what to wear. I didn’t want to show up in baggy jeans,” said Seguin.
Like Hall in his visit here one week earlier, Seguin made it clear he wanted to be picked No. 1 by the Oilers next Friday night at the draft in Los Angeles. But he had a different way of putting it.
“I’m a hockey player and a competitor so I want to be No. 1,” he said.
Why should the Oilers pick him first?
“My improvement level,” he said. “I bloomed a little bit late. This year I was in the spotlight and I handled it and adjusted to it well, which is something you have to do.”
He insisted he was looking forward to the experience in L.A. next week.
“I can’t wait for the moment when the cameras are on me and the excitement. It’s now eight days away. It’s coming pretty fast.”
Most of the questions were similar as the ones posed to Hall in the same Royal Suite on the 25th floor of the Sutton Place Hotel the previous Thursday.
Like the one about being the face of the franchise in a Canadian city where the focus on hockey is so much greater than in Boston where the Bruins share the stage with the Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox at various stages of their season.
“I don’t see it as pressure. I see it as great opportunity,” he said.
The arguments for Seguin are several.
He’s a centre. The Oilers haven’t had a real No. 1 centre to play with Ales Hemsky who will probably be outta here in two years in free agency if they don’t find him one.
While most concede that Taylor Hall is the safer pick and better player right now, Seguin is believed by some to project to a better player three or four years from now. He is essentially a year behind Hall in development, three years of junior to two, and younger in birth dates.
The thought with Seguin, who wasn’t surrounded with the same kind of talent in Plymouth as Hall had around him in Windsor and yet managed the same 106 points as the back-to-back Memorial Cup MVP, is that he would probably benefit from another year in junior and a chance to play for Team Canada at the World Junior. That wouldn’t hurt when it comes to delaying the year he’d hit free agency either.
There’s also the idea that the Oilers’ young talent wouldn’t be expected to come together into a reach for the top team until about 2014 when Katz hopes to be moving into a new downtown arena, so why rush him?
There’s also the thought that the Oilers, unless they buy out a bunch of players in the two week window which opened this week and closes the day after the draft, aren’t likely to have room for all the young talent they are assembling. And why not finish at the bottom of the standings one more year and get one more top pick next year, as well?
But where does Seguin sit when it comes to all of this?
“First and foremost I want to be in the NHL next year,” he said. “I’m confident in my abilities.”
As for having the opportunity to play for Team Canada at the World Junior, he said he’d embrace it.
“If I get a chance I wouldn’t let it go like last year,” he said of failing to making the team that Hall made to use the stage to impress a lot of people.
I’m of the opinion that it’s almost impossible not to take Hall when he’s proven himself a winner — the only two-time MVP of the Memorial Cup competes almost every shift he plays and goes to all the tough areas of the ice.
But if Boston decided to offer to trade their second pick (15th) for Edmonton’s (31st) so they’d get flip spots to take Hall No. 1, giving Edmonton Seguin, hoo boy, you’d have to think about it.
He definitely is an impressive young man.