BRANDON, Man. – There was no big surprise on Saturday when Tyler Seguin heard his name called at the Canadian Hockey League award ceremony as the recipient of the league’s Top Prospect award.
The award, given to the top player eligible for the for the NHL entry draft, was just one of three awards Seguin was nominated for, but the only one he collected.
“All these little things are just part of the journey,” said Seguin of the accolades he’s received this season. “To be recognized is something I’m very proud of, very humble about it and it’s just another (part) of the journey. It’s been such a long year with all the draft stuff and all these events, but I’m having fun with it.”
Seguin, a centre with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, was ranked No. 1 by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau for the June 25 draft in Los Angeles. But there has been much debate over whether the Edmonton Oilers – who own the top pick – will select Seguin of fellow OHL prospect Taylor Hall. Hall, a winger with the defending MasterCard Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires, has been battling Seguin all season in the rankings and will try to boost his profile even further on Sunday when Spitfires will face the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Memorial Cup final.
“At the end of the day, I still want to be first,” said Seguin of the NHL entry draft. “I’m still a hockey player. Hall and I don’t hate each other, we’re friends off the ice, we’re just two guys striving for the same dream. If it happens that I don’t go number one I’m not going to be all depressed and sad, I’m happy going wherever I end up.”
Seguin led the Plymouth Whalers in scoring and was tied with Hall as the top scorer in the OHL with 48 goals and 58 assists for 106 points in 63 games. He was also nominated for the CHL Player of the Year award and the Top Scorer award along with Hall.
Along for the ride at the award ceremony on Saturday was former Whalers captain Chris Terry, one of Seguin’s closest confidants. Terry, who spent this season with the AHL’s Albany RiverRats, says he’s tried to help Seguin prepare for the draft by giving the 18-year-old a few pointers on the process.
“I told him about what (the draft) was like for me in Columbus (Ohio),” said Terry, a fifth-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2007. “Obviously he’s in a little different situation than I am, but just things about the combine and the tests – handling your game off the ice as a pro.”
The NHL combine begins on Monday and runs through to May 24, so Seguin has spent a lot of his time working out in his hometown of Brampton, Ont. to prepare for the grueling process which also includes interviews and psychological testing for the players. Terry says Seguin should have no problems acing all of the off-ice components after the intense media scrutiny the 18-year-old has been under during his draft year.
“He’s handled it well, the way he handles the media and all the attention,” said Terry. “Just everything he’s done this year has been terrific.”