Hall, Seguin entry draft frontrunners

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:28 PM ET

A year ago, Taylor Hall was the odds-on favourite to be the first pick overall in the 2010 NHL entry draft.

Long before John Tavares became the first pick of the 2009 draft, those in the business had tabbed him as the No. 1 choice, and though Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene made it interesting, the New York Islanders were never going to stray from taking Tavares.

Hall could get bumped by Tyler Seguin next June, but both are considered to be franchise players, the kind of players that teams can build around.

Looking ahead to 2011, it's not nearly as obvious.

Players such as California native Shane McColgan of the Kelowna Rockets, Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson, Burnaby, B.C.'s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels and Sean Couturier of the Drummondville Voltigeurs, a native of New Brunswick -- any could be taken first overall. But there's no clear-cut choice among them.

That should be good news for fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have begun steeling themselves for the reality that general manager Brian Burke might have had a stud such as Hall or Seguin had he not traded his first pick to the Boston Bruins in the Phil Kessel trade.

What could make the swap harder to swallow for Leafs Nation is that Hall, of the Windsor Spitfires, is a native of Kingston, while Seguin, of the Plymouth Whalers, hails from Brampton. Two kids from the Leafs' backyard, in other words.

The Bruins also own the Leafs' first-rounder in 2011, another part of the Kessel deal. At least there's no franchise-type player -- yet -- whom the Bruins might get their hands on thanks to the Leafs.

Lindy's long ride

Lindy Ruff's longevity in Buffalo came into sharper focus this week when the NFL's Buffalo Bills fired head coach Dick Jauron.

The Bills are paying their sixth head coach since Ruff was hired by the Sabres in July of 1997.

In the sports world as a whole, Ruff and Sabres general manager Darcy Regier stand alone: The pair is the longest-tenured duo in the four major sports -- the NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB.

Since Ruff became the Sabres' coach more than 12 years ago, there have been 148 coaching changes in the NHL and no less than 453 in the major sports.

"I've been more than fortunate," Ruff said. "I use the word 'lucky' when you go through ownership (changes) like we went through.

The common thread is Darcy. The next common thread is Larry (Quinn, the Sabres' managing partner). He has been a good supporter. It's filed somewhere between luck and the overall record, which has been good."

Preds producing

The Nashville Predators are 8-2 in their past 10 games and this week beat two of the NHL's top teams -- the San Jose Sharks and the New Jersey Devils. Steve Sullivan, with three goals in three games, Jason Arnott, with two goals against the Devils, and David Legwand, with five points in his past seven games, have started getting their names on the scoresheet.

And Nashville is 9-0 when it scores with a man advantage.

"It was good for me because I needed to break out of that slump," Arnott said of beating former teammate Martin Brodeur twice. "Getting power-play goals seems to lift us a little more. It's a good sign."

Around the boards

Craig Anderson of the Colorado Avalanche is being considered to be one of the goalies for the U.S. at the Olympics in February, but fatigue could become a factor. Anderson hasn't played in more than 31 games in any NHL season and his next start will be his 21st ... The Columbus Blue Jackets' Mathieu Garon is breathing down the neck of Steve Mason for the No. 1 job. Mason's numbers -- an .884 save percentage and a 3.49 goals-against average -- pale in comparison to those of Garon (.923, 2.46). Garon has a career mark of 18-4 in shootouts ... Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Matt Carle should get strong consideration for the U.S. Olympic squad. Carle has 15 points and led the NHL with a plus-18 mark.

TERRY.KOSHAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos