Hall-Seguin debate just getting started

Updated: February 9, 2010, 2:33 PM ET
By Gare Joyce

Editor's note: Welcome to the NHL draft blog, your destination for all things NHL draft-related, including mock drafts, prospect updates, and the latest rumors from scouts and front offices.

The blog will be updated on a regular basis with content from an array of writers, including celebrated draft writer Gare Joyce and ESPN The Magazine senior scribes E.J. Hradek and Lindsay Berra.

Every Tuesday, Joyce will provide a stock watch to see which prospects are rising and falling on draft boards. To start, we look at the top of the charts to see who's currently leading between LW Taylor Hall and C Tyler Seguin in the race to be the No. 1 overall pick this June.

Taylor vs. Tyler

Last fall, Windsor Spitfires forward Taylor Hall looked like a lock to go first overall in the 2010 draft. Hall was seemingly the safest bet on a preseason No. 1 since Sidney Crosby was selected first overall in 2005. In Hall's first two years of major junior competition, he had done just about everything you could possibly ask.

In the 2007-08 season, he notched 45 goals and 39 assists for 84 points in 63 games for Windsor. He was a first-liner on the Ontario team that won Hockey Canada's international under-17 tournament, beating the U.S. in the final. He also made significant contributions to the Canadian team that won the world under-18s in Russia. He was arguably the third-best forward on that team, behind Cody Hodgson, Vancouver's 2008 first-rounder, and Matt Duchene, who is a rookie of the year candidate with Colorado. And he did all that at age 16.

A year later, he increased his point total to 90 for Windsor, added 16 more in the playoffs and was named most outstanding player of the Memorial Cup as he led the Spitfires to their first national major-junior championship.

That's a lot to like. He didn't just throw up big numbers; he was also clutch when it looked like Windsor's run was at an end. You couldn't ask a lot more of a late-birthday player who was going to have to play three junior seasons before being eligible for the NHL entry draft.

Back in November, however, the consensus was crumbling. NHL Central Scouting released its preliminary lists, and Hall was ranked as the second-best prospect in the OHL. Sitting in the No. 1 slot: center Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers.

Coming into the 2009-10 season, Seguin looked like a decent prospect -- top 10 for the upcoming NHL entry draft, maybe -- but at that point, if somebody in the scouting fraternity saw him as a No. 1 or even a No. 2, he saw something everyone else missed. Seguin had played one season of junior and picked up 21 goals in 61 games -- solid numbers for a 17-year-old but way off Hall's level of performance.

Central Scouting threw Hall back atop its list of draft-eligible skaters in North America in the midseason rankings released last month, with Seguin ranked No. 2, and it's clear that these two have separated themselves from the field. What they have not done, it seems, is separate themselves from each other, even after we asked a sample of scouts for their take on the two future studs.

To see the details of the debate, including why some scouts are more than a little scared to take Taylor Hall, and get access to all NHL draft blog content, you must be an ESPN Insider.