Why Tyler Seguin is better than Taylor Hall

Rumor has it that, leading up to the 2010 NHL Draft, the Boston Bruins tried very hard to package their 2nd overall pick in the draft for the 1st overall pick possessed by the Edmonton Oilers, so that they could draft Taylor Hall instead of Tyler Seguin. At the time, the Bruins had a log-jam of elite center-men, with Marc Savard, David Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron all on the roster, and they wanted to draft the winger, Hall, rather than another center in Seguin. But the Oilers refused, and went on to draft Taylor Hall with the 1st overall pick, leaving the Bruins to settle for Tyler Seguin at #2. But the sad thing is for the Oilers, I believe they could have acquired a helpful package from the Bruins while also still drafting the better player. That’s right, I’m saying Tyler Seguin should have been drafted ahead of Taylor Hall, although I can certainly understand making the wrong decision.

First, let me say that Hall vs. Seguin truly represents one of hockey’s impossible choices, the elite play-making center or the elite goal scoring power forward winger. However, when I watch Taylor Hall play, I see a blatant weakness, something I don’t see in Seguin’s game. Hall is extremely fast, strong, and he possesses a good shot, but I see many potential scoring chances wasted off his stick because he cannot maintain control of the puck through whatever maneuver he is attempting on a given play. Two skills that in many ways go hand-in-hand, balance and stick-handling, are where Taylor Hall falls short.

These aren’t obvious weaknesses, but the trained eye will notice them. For a good example of what Hall lacks, just look to his teammate, Jordan Eberle, who excels at those two skills like few others do. You might be surprised to learn that the smaller, slower, weaker, softer-shooting Eberle has 2 goals and 12 points more than Hall in five more games. Are Eberle’s superior hands and balance the sole reason for this? No, but they’re the main ones along with his vision, and the same phenomenon is true with teammate Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson. Like Hall, Paajarvi has better size, speed, reach, and finishing ability than Eberle, yet Eberle remains the far superior player because he is much more precise, compact, and in control of his movements, and the puck along with them. Where Paajarvi and especially Hall lose the puck on the way to far too many would-be scoring chances, Eberle does not, and that makes all the difference.

So where does Seguin come in? You could say he is an excellent fusion of Eberle and Hall, falling somewhere in-between. He may not be quite as controlled and precise as Eberle, but he makes up for it with superior size and reach. Then again, we’re not talking about Seguin compared to Eberle, we’re talking about Seguin compared to Hall, and Seguin’s hands, balance, and vision are all notably better than Hall’s. Hall’s one advantage over Seguin is his physical power, and it’s a big advantage; it’s just not enough to make him Seguin’s equal. Seguin is just superior to Hall in too many important areas of the game, and his set of skills compliment each other very well, yielding a dominant overall package of a player that could challenge for the Art Ross trophy in the near future. Seguin’s game shows flashes of Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman (offensively), while Hall appears as a dominant physical specimen both in muscle and speed, but without the truly elite level of “skill” in terms of puck handing and play-making that you would associate with the likes of Lemieux. It’s always hard to know how much weight to put on pure finesse hockey skill, as pertaining to the stick and passing, compared to a more physically oriented skill set, but my gut tells me that Seguin is more talented than Hall, better rounded in his offensive game, and just better. He can do more in more different ways, he makes you come out of your seat much more than Hall does, his many skills all come together in a dominant whole better than Hall’s; he’s just the more talented player in my mind, and I believe the Oilers should have drafted him instead of Hall.

With that said, Hall is a heck of a player, and if he can stay healthy and work on his hands and balance a bit, it’s definitely possible that Hall could develop into, if not the better player season after season, then at least the player you might want on your team if you could only pick one to play one playoff series for you. And you could just as easily argue that possibility means the Oilers made the right choice in picking Hall after all. Because Taylor Hall, in his prime, 100% healthy, with the kinks of his game ironed out a bit more, could be an absolute monster playoff performer. The same goes for Seguin in terms of taking over games offensively, but Hall brings that physical edge that’s so valuable in the playoffs, and so rare to find in top players.

This is why I said at the beginning of the blog, there is no loser in this trade-off between Boston and Edmonton. Both teams landed fantastic talents, and this really was the impossible choice between two elite players of different styles, where you couldn’t go wrong with either. I do believe Seguin is the better talent, but I’m a big fan of Taylor Hall, too. It’s just that he does have, if not weaknesses, areas in his offensive game that, just by virtue of being in the average range, do hold him back from truly being the consistently elite offensive player he would be otherwise. And in the areas where Hall has “weaknesses,” Seguin absolutely excels, and I think that gives him the edge overall.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments.

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Written by Shark Circle

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