Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall? Ask that question to an even number of scouts and you'll likely end up with a split, they're that even right now.
So I asked a number of scouts three questions about the top two picks for this year's draft. Some answered all of them while some are too close to picking one of them and didn't want to take part for fear of tipping their hand, and some chose to answer only one or 2 of my questions.
Here now, as the top two prospects get set to face each other in a 7 game series, are the questions and answers. All scouts involved requested anonymity and I will provide that.
Where would you have put Hall or Seguin in last year's draft?
"...I would not put either of them ahead of John Tavares or Matt Duchene, but Hall is close because he stands out physically."
"...Very close but I would go Seguin, Tavares, Hedman Hall"
"...For me it's Tavares because he's a goal scorer, he's methodical and smart. Seguin is so creative and smooth on the ice. Duchene is the most dynamic and is like a racehorse on the ice. Hall powers his way past defenceman and can lug the puck end to end."
"...Duchene who is the best all around player and most mature of the four, Seguin who's a boy now but could end up being the biggest of them all with his upper body strength, Hall has been prepped for the number one spot like Tavares was but there are some red flags....he might have problems following team roles. Tavares who simply knows where the net is."
"...I like these two guys this year better then all 3 players from last year's draft. I think Hall and Seguin have more upside."
"...Hall and Seguin are better skaters then Tavares and obviously with Hedman being a defenceman it's a tough comparison. Duchene is a better skater than Hall and Seguin, but at this time last year you would never have thought he would be in the NHL and producing...and anybody who says they did is full of BS, because he wasn't ready physically at this time a year ago.
"....Hall is bigger than Duchene and a much better skater than Tavares, maybe he doesn't have the pure skill that Tavares has or the hockey sense that Duchene has but he's more ready to play than Tavares or Duchene were last year. Seguin has a ton of upside, but Hall is probably closer to a finished product right now, but Seguin still has a lot of potential growth as a player ahead of him."
Where would you put Hall or Seguin when compared to already drafted prospects like Cody Hodgson, Jordan Eberle, Nikita Filatov, Colin Wilson and Brayden Schenn?
(these are the top 5 forwards from the recent Hockey News: 2010 Future Watch)
"...Hall and Seguin are ahead of all of them, the closest from that list might be Eberle"
"...I would have both of this year's draft kids in front of all 5 guys."
"...Both of them are superior to all of those guys, enough for me to have no hesitation in answering that."
"..I would have Hall and Seguin ahead of the 5 players you mentioned."
"...Hodgson and Eberle have the potential to be better then Hall and Seguin, but this year's guys will likely be better then Filatov, Wilson and Schenn."
"...Hall and Seguin are potential first line NHLers. Those other guys you could argue that they're second line guys."
Where would you put next years top prospects Adam Larsson, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sean Couturier in this year's draft?
"...Larsson would slide ahead of Fowler for this year's draft, Couturier has left me wanting more, and Nugent-Hopkins is 3rd for me."
"...Couturier would be comparable with both of them. He's got a lot of upside, a big centreman, won the (QMJHL) league scoring title, plays in every situation. Big centremen that have hockey sense, character and talent are pretty valuable."
"...teams need the kids they draft in the top 3 to make an immediate impact and forwards have an easier time doing that so Larsson wouldn't go ahead of Seguin or Hall, but he is a very good 16 year old. Hedman was outstanding at 15, but Larsson's potential might be higher. Couturier might be the best out of this year and next year in 3 years."
"...If I'm picking today I'm taking Couturier ahead of Larsson and Nugent-Hopkins, but not ahead of Seguin or Hall."
"...Larsson would be close, he might not be as dynamic as Hedman but he has super star potential."
So there you have it, the opinions from scouts across the league. I think both Seguin and Hall have franchise player potential. Not quite in the Crosby/Ovechkin airspace, but as good if not better then anyone drafted since the 2 best players in the game. What it also tells me is while next year's draft isn't considered great by some, the top end talent is close to this year's. Do some think it's a weak draft because there might not be an Ontario kid in the top 5? Something to think about.
What do you take from this?