If today’s date were May fourth 2010 no one in the hockey world would doubt that the race for the Calder Trophy would come down to Taylor Hall vs Tyler Seguin with some token references to other players just to avoid the (deserved) impression of tunnel vision. But today is October fourth, and boy have our eyes been opened in the last six months. In the next few weeks hockey fans will discover what scribes, coaches, and players have been awakening to since training camp began; Not only may Hall or Seguin prove not to be the best rookie in the NHL, they may not prove to be the best rookies on their teams.
In Boston, Seguin has bounced between wing and center, landing in the third line center slot between Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler, two players who the Bruins and Bruins Nation can only hope recover from their substandard years last year. His faceoff winning percentage has been in the twenties and thirties, and he’s been consistently out muscled by other players. Until the demotion of Suave to Providence and the return of Spooner to his junior team, it would be hard to call Seguin the most impressive rookie in camp. In truth, I don’t think it’s reasonable to do so now, but it it much closer to the truth.
In Edmonton Hall has recently earned a grade that is less than average. David Staples, who pulls no punches and writes fairly, had this to say about Tyler Hall’s play during a recent tilt in the legendary “Battle of Alberta” :
Taylor Hall, 3. A poor game. Often stripped of the puck. Looking a bit tentative, not unexpected for a rook. Flashes of skill, but not effective in this game.
Hall helped create one good scoring chance and was a culprit on three scoring chances against the Oilers, -2 overall at even strength, a poor score for a winger (I define a scoring chance as a hard shot from the slot, the same definition as Buffalo Sabres goalie coach Jim Corsi. I also break down the videotape to ascertain which players were involved in scoring chances for and against, and which players were not. Only those who made a significant contribution to the chance get a plus mark, and only the culprits get a minus.).
Which is not quite the endorsement that one might expect for the man expected to be the savior of the franchise, the second coming of Gretzky & Howe in one, and probably solve global climate change and the worldwide economic slow down all before the All Star game.
Fortunately for hockey fans on both ends of the continent, there is still hope for bringing home the Calder. David Staples makes mention of another left winger recently drafted by the Oilers, and Bruins fans have been warming towards a right winger since prospect camp opened. The son of Sayabec, Quebec Jordan Caron looks to have eclipsed both Joe Colborne, and Tyler Seguin going all the way from bubble player who was expected to toil in the AHL until a reason to recall him could be made to sliding straight onto a line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. The coveted spot with the Olympic Gold Medalist and Future Hall of Famer was projected to be Seguin’s. In their tuneup match against the Belfast Giant’s Select team, Caron rode shotgun on the top line, Seguin was on the third. Further with a coach who as conservative and defensive as they come, Caron has earned penalty kill time right and left in his appearances, and enjoyed some powerplay time. Seguin has rode the so far ineffectual power-play only.
Edmonton will likely see Paajarvi overshadow Hall before years end. In the same game in which the better known draftee was given a humbling grade of three, Paajarvi earned himself a game score more than twice as high. During their recent collision with fellow bottom feeding Tampa Bay, Paajarvi earned himself four points with a short handed goal in the mix while going plus two, Hall was limited to one goal and an even plus/minus.
While you will undoubtedly be treated to a sea of Hall vs Seguin headlines and articles this year, just as we all were early this year and right up until the NHL entry draft, it looks like the more interesting story lines will be Caron vs Seguin and Paajarvi vs Hall.