What If Taylor Hall Had Played Center in Windsor?

For a minute, I'd like to pose a question.

It seems that the debate over Taylor Hall vs Tyler Seguin isn't one debating the skill of either player. The debate seems now to revolve more around where the Edmonton Oilers need the most help and for that reason alone, Seguin supporters are suggesting the Oilers draft him at #1.

I've yet to actually hear anyone say that Seguin should be drafted simply because he's better. Even Central Scouting, the latest and I think only major scouting agency to list Seguin at #1 overall, isn't doing so for his current skill, but more for his potential at a position that comes in higher demand around the NHL.

Furthermore, Seguin is being projected at a higher level than Hall. David Staples has a great read here on what that means if interested.

Tyler Seguin was a great player on a not as great a team in Plymouth. Taylor Hall was a star winger on a loaded team in Windsor. Those are facts as we know them and explanations by many who suggest that because Seguin was able to produce with a lesser supporting cast, his numbers mean more.

So, here's my question.

What if both players had played their junior career at center?

Sure, it's a loaded question because we know that's not what happened and we don't know what Hall's numbers would have looked like.

What we do know from the accounts of the many scouts, coaches and players who've provided information and testimonials about Hall, is that he's a natural athlete. He possessed skills that made him a great draft when he was selected into the OHL and his inability to play the position wasn't reason for the switch to LW.

r coach Bob Boughner stated Hall's move to LW wasn't because Hall couldn't effectively play the center position, but because Boughner had a team with plenty of center depth and he thought a player with Hall's skills could make the switch. Moreover, Boughner enjoyed watching a player with Hall's speed play wing and literally fly around the defender on an offensive rush. He slated him there to better utilize the other members of the Windsor team.

Had Boughner not had that extra depth, Hall might have spent his OHL time at center. It's a bold guess and there isn't much evidence to suggest Hall's numbers would have been the same as they are now, but it's not a stretch to imagine they'd still be great and Hall wouldn't still be listed as a top tier draft choice in this years NHL lottery.

For those out there that are looking less at the player and more the position that the Oilers need to fill, would you think differently if Hall were thought of as a center and not a winger? Or even a 50/50 split should he have played a lot of time there?

Does it help or confuse your decision if you were given the impression that Hall could play either position in the NHL effectively? Since we really don't know how either player will make the transition, would that versatility be nice to have in your next superstar and would it make you change your mind knowing Hall can play both while Seguin is known purely as a center and not a winger?

Food for thought.


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Does Hemsky Happy Mean Oilers Leaning Toward Drafting Taylor Hall?

A couple of quick posts by the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson and Oilers Nation Robin Brownlee suggests what they thought was an unhappy and likely to be exiting Ales Hemsky, may have changed his tune.

Information presented to them in respect to a year end exit meeting between Hemsky and the Oilers, suggest Hemsky is now not only perhaps not looking to sign elsewhere at the end of his current contract, but excited about the Oilers current plans. If both Matheson and Brownlee were previously under the impression Hemsky was giving out feelers that he'd be leaving; what exactly happened at that meeting?

It's no secret that Ales Hemsky hasn't exactly been surrounded by a winning supporting cast. Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner and other temporary fill-ins have tried, but none have yet to live up to the "superstar" billing that seems to surround Hemsky (even though Hemsky's numbers do not fully suggest he himself is a superstar). Ryan Smyth might be the closest.

As a result, the Oilers have done literally everything in their power to land a scoring winger to play with Hemsky. Marian Hossa, Dany Heatley, Thomas Vanek, even Dustin Penner who has had some mild success, were sought out or brought in to work with Hemmer and create that "top line" the Oilers haven't had in years.

In many cases, this never-ending quest has come at the detriment of the team.

This isn't to say that the attempts at centers like Michael Nylander or Paul Kariya weren't also done for the same reasons; but the publicity surrounding the failed attempts of someone Hemsky might click with, seem to start and end with well known and top level talent wingers. Heck even the Jagr rumors continued to float around until it was recently announced Jagr had officially re-upped in the KHL.

Does that mean that when the Oilers Steve Tamebellini and possibly Daryl Katz (as we have learned spent a good two hours chatting with Hemsky one-on-one over coffee) sat down with Hemsky to end this horrid season, that something like, "Hemmer...we're about to draft you the linemate you've always wanted. This is a big opportunity for you and the Edmonton Oilers" came out?

If anything similar to it was the focus of that conversation, the natural fit might seem to mean that Taylor Hall fits the bill better than Tyler Seguin would.

Hall, by all accounts, will make an immediate impact in the NHL. It won't come as a surprise to anyone to see him get top line ice time in 5-on-5 situations and the powerplay; and the logic behind it being to bury some of the beauty passes Hemsky can dish out. Hall has proven to be a big game player, has the ability to shoot and pass and he along side Hemsky should improve a player like Shawn Horcoff immensely, who everyone knows the Oilers can't and aren't getting rid of.

Perhaps the thought a player like Hall has Hemsky excited. That maybe, Hemsky can be a new leader on this team with a young scoring superstar who has the potential to be just as flashy as he is.

On the other hand, since we know little about what's really going on in Hemsky's mind, perhaps he's more open to the idea of a true first line center?

And, all of a sudden we're back to where we started. I guess, this is why it's fun to speculate, but really know nothing until the parties involved start to actually tip their hands. What do you think?


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