|The two top picks Tyler Seguin, left, and Taylor Hall pose together during the first round of the 2010 NHL hockey draft in Los Angeles on June 25, 2010. Hall was selected first overall by the Edmonton Oilers while Seguin went second to the Boston Bruins. The duo meet for the first time in their pro careers Sunday when Boston visits Rexall Place. (MIKE BLAKE/Reuters)
EDMONTON - To some, the Taylor versus Tyler debate is already over.
Others believe it hasn’t even started yet.
And still others will tell you it’s silly to be debating apples and oranges.
Nevertheless, it’ll be fuel for discussion and fun to watch when their careers intersect Sunday for the first time since the Oilers ended months of speculation and argument by taking Hall over Seguin last summer in Los Angeles.
“It’ll be interesting because I don’t think we’ll get to play each other a whole lot through the course of our careers,” said Hall, well aware that Oilers-Bruins games are a rarity in today’s NHL. “With all the lead up to the draft and travelling around together it’s kind of neat to see how we’ve grown as players. It should be fun to play him Sunday.”
While Taylor versus Tyler was a coin toss in June, the numbers today suggest Hall is the better player by a landslide.
He has 21 goals and 19 assists and needed less than five months to become Edmonton’s most productive goal scorer and most consistent player.
Seguin had 10 goals and 11 assists going into Saturday’s game in Vancouver, has been in the press box a few times and has yet to make an impact.
But that’s where the whole apples-oranges thing comes in.
Seguin is playing 12 minutes a game on a Cup contender that’s deep at centre. Hall is playing 18 minutes on a 30th place team that’s so desperate for skill it will cater to anyone with half a clue offensively.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot more opportunity with playing time,” agreed Hall, adding it’s way too early to even compare the two career paths. “It’s not how you do in year one, it’s when you get into year four and year five that you start to really do well. We’ll see what kind of players we are in the future.
“We probably don’t have the greatest indication of how good a player he is right now. But he has a great future in Boston and he’s going to be a centre piece pretty soon.”
While Hall has benefited from the ice time and responsibility, they weren’t gifts. He stepped up and took them — not the toughest thing to do on the lowest scoring team in the conference, but he stepped up just the same.
It could have easily been too much, too fast, and done him more harm than good — the pile of busted first rounders is stacked with guys who were asked to carry too much weight in year one — but he’s taken it all and asked for more.
“Initially there’s a little bit of time to see what we had there, or what he was capable of,” said Renney. “But it wasn’t too far into the season that we started to recognize that it doesn’t matter who the opponent is or what the circumstances are, he’s completely capable of handling it.
“He certainly fits what is, in my mind, symbolic of the first overall pick by the nature of how he plays, the maturity that he brings to the rink and how he handles interviews with you people (media).
“He’s a great spokesman for the organization and he plays the game at a high level. I can count on one hand the number of games where he maybe didn’t get it done quite the way he wanted to that night. That’s probably good enough for the most consistent forward on our team.”
Hall doesn’t view this as any sort of grudge match, nor does he feel a need to win the day — no more than he always feels the need to win the day, anyway. It’ll just be cool to line up against another elite young player that he knows pretty well from their summer travels.
“I don’t think there’s anything to prove, it’s more a battle of two teams,” he said. “It’s not going to be me versus Tyler in any sense.”