Seguin worthy of big league spotlight

Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:54 PM ET

BRANDON — Tyler Seguin believes he’s already made his case.

While the debate over who the Edmonton Oilers should select first overall in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft has been raging with the dominant effort by Windsor Spitfires forward Taylor Hall at the 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup, Seguin is on the sidelines as a spectator and can do little else to raise his stock.

In town for the Canadian Hockey League awards, Seguin provided a little insight when we asked him about how his game has grown and why the Oilers should choose him at No. 1?

“My biggest strengths shown over the last two years is my improvement level,” said Seguin, a Plymouth Whalers forward who was named most valuable player in the Ontario Hockey League after amassing 48 goals and 106 points in 63 games this season. “I came into the OHL (draft) ninth overall, so I wasn’t one or two. I just kept getting better and better with the help of my coaches and the Plymouth Whalers. This year, I was never really in the spotlight, and once that pressure got put on me, I was still able to perform, and that shows good qualities in a player that can move on to the next level.”

After flip-flopping with Hall throughout the season, Seguin finished first among North American skaters in the Central Scouting rankings.

“The scouts have seen everything they wanted to see,” said Seguin, who took home the Canadian Hockey League award as top prospect on Saturday. “We’ve played over 75, 80 games, and I think they’ve made their assessments. It was definitely depressing after we lost out there, but now I’m trying to stay positive.”

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing this season for Seguin, who was cut by Canada’s world junior hockey team in December after a mediocre evaluation camp.

Rather than wilt after the disappointment, Seguin returned to the OHL and was player of the month in January and February.

“Absolutely, that was definitely the biggest adversity I’ve faced over the course of my career,” said Seguin. “I went in there and didn’t play my game. I thought about too many little things. After that, I learned from my mistakes. I worked my hardest. I knew after that (Team Canada captain) Patrice Cormier was amazing on draws and I wasn’t very good.

“I used that as motivation and bounced back with two solid months.”

Whalers head coach and general manager Mike Velucci wasn’t lobbying for his player to go first overall, but he made a case while admitting his own bias.

“He’s gotten better and better every year, and as the year went on, he got better,” said Velucci. “This year, he came in and everyone thought he was a playmaker, and he said ‘I’m going to show everybody I can score’ and he scored 48 goals and had 50-some assists.

“His improvement from the beginning of his junior career to now is astounding, and I really see more growth as he gets stronger and bigger.”

Seguin, an 18-year-old from Brampton, Ont., has been pegged by many as a franchise centre, and Velucci showered praise when asked about how high the ceiling might be for his pro career.

“He’s a kid who responds to challenges, and he’ s a very mature individual, too,” said Velucci. “The way he carries himself off the ice and just his competitive level, from the first practice to the last practice, he worked almost as hard as in games. It was every day.

“If he keeps that effort up, the sky is the limit for him.”


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