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Monday, June 21, 2010
Hall or Seguin? To Bruins it's a toss-up

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

With only a few days before the NHL draft begins in Los Angeles, the on-ice talents of both Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin are well documented.

Many NHL general managers, including the Boston Bruins' Peter Chiarelli, believe Hall and Seguin are ready for the NHL and will be impact players next season. The Edmonton Oilers have the No. 1 overall selection, and the Bruins pick second.

Both have been heavily scouted and, no matter the order of selection, at this point both Chiarelli and Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini will be more than satisfied with either player.

Prior to the Memorial Cup playoffs, Seguin was named the top prospect by central scouting, but the Oilers and the Bruins watched Hall emerge as a fierce competitor with irrefutable talent in the postseason.

So which player does Chiarelli want more?

"I would say right now, as of today, we have one guy over the other," Chiarelli admitted. "It's very, very close."

He wouldn't tip his hand, however.

Taylor Hall
Taylor Hall played for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League and helped his team to consecutive Memorial Cup championships.

Since the draft lottery in April, Chiarelli has thought about making a deal with Tambellini to make sure the Bruins get the player they want, but by now it's too close to call.

"If I decided the gap between No. 1 and No. 2 is large enough then potentially I would consider a move to bridge that gap, to get that player," Chiarelli said. "Right now that gap is very small and I can't see it changing."

Hall, 18, played for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League and helped his team to consecutive Memorial Cup championships in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. He earned MVP honors both times. He's a prototypical power forward with a left-handed shot and can play both wings. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder recorded 40 goals and 66 assists with 56 penalty minutes in 57 regular-season games this past season.

Seguin, 18, played for the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL and can play all three forward positions. The 6-foot-1, 172-pounder has a right-handed shot with quick release, and he has dynamic speed and play-making ability.

He had 48 goals and 58 assists in 63 regular-season games for the Whalers. He added five goals and five assists in nine playoff games.

Chiarelli and his staff have met with both Hall and Seguin at their homes and have brought them to Boston. As important as their abilities to handle the puck, score goals and immediately impact a team, their off-ice makeup is just as important.

"I think they are both terrific kids, " Chiarelli said. "They're both very confident. Tyler seems to be a little more extroverted than Taylor. Both their families are tremendous families.

In fact, the Bruins' hockey-operations personnel have researched scenarios involving both players, from where they would potentially fit in the Bruins' lineup to the players they might be lined with during the regular season. Chiarelli and his staff have exhausted all the possibilities.

"We've been going through this with a fine-tooth comb," he said. "There's differences in their game and there's subtle differences in their personality. It really is that close. It's important to go through that exercise so that you have all the information and all the opinions in front of you when you make that decision."

Chiarelli said he has changed his mind a few times on which player he would rather have, but that's a good sign, especially if the Bruins feel that strongly about both Hall and Seguin.

Listening to Chiarelli talk about each player, it seems he favors Hall in this equation. The Bruins' GM recently visited with the Hall family at their home in Kingston, Ontario, and said he had a pleasant visit.

Tyler Sequin
Tyler Seguin, who played for the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL, is known for his dynamic speed and play-making ability.

"I felt very comfortable talking with the mom and dad, and Taylor," Chiarelli said. "It's been well-documented Taylor's done all these things, he's won and you can't ignore that, but Tyler has had a terrific year, too.

"Seguin's level of improvement is significant from one year to the next and he's still growing, but personalitywise they're both pleasant kids. They're different kids, but confident in their own way, and it appears they'll do anything they're asked and both want to win very badly."

Newly appointed Bruins president Cam Neely has also been impressed with both players. The Hall of Famer has made it no secret since he's been involved in hockey operations for the past three years that he wants players who respect the game and know what it takes to put on a Black and Gold sweater.

Interestingly enough, Hall wore No. 4 for the Spitfires in honor of Bobby Orr, who also represents the prospect.

"Both are older than their years, as you would expect with all the media they've had to deal with and the path their lives have taken them," Neely said. "I think they're going to be great players. They are both very determined. No matter what happens, I think they both want to show each other they want to be No. 1. They are both very committed and determined."

Character is important to Chiarelli, and the Bruins learned during this process how both players interact with their families, peers, teammates and coaches.

"All those things are very significant when you're making a decision on a player with this kind of ability," Chiarelli said. "Obviously, we don't ignore it."

Organizations need to see the entire package, and not just focus on statistics.

"In my history it's always been an important thing," Chiarelli said. "You can't ignore skill, and the premise is you always want to draft the best player available, that's what I really want to stick to. But these two players are so close, and they're both really good kids, so it's a unique situation."

Chiarelli has done his due diligence and has spoken with a few GMs who have been in a similar situation on draft day . "We're in a good spot," he said.

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.