It has become a tradition for the NHL to bring the top prospects for the annual entry draft to the Stanley Cup Final to meet players and the media, and the five youngsters ranked first through fifth by the Central Scouting Bureau got to meet the Flyers and Blackhawks after the teams finished their morning skates Friday at the Wachovia Center.
They were scheduled to attend Game 4 of the Final Friday night, a memorable experience. But they’re in for an even bigger thrill when the draft is held June 25-26 at Staples Center. The occasion will be the first visit to California for No. 1-ranked Tyler Seguin
of the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers and No. 2-ranked Taylor Hall
of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, and they’re looking forward to it.
“I’ve heard it’s beautiful,” said Seguin, a center who shared the league scoring title with Hall at 106 points each. “It’s going to be an exciting day for my family and I. Just one step closer to the dream.”
Hall, a left wing, said he plans to be in the area for four days and will take batting practice with the Dodgers one day. “That’s going to be an awesome experience,” he said.
Edmonton has the No. 1 pick, with Boston scheduled to draft second because it got Toronto’s pick in the Phil Kessel
trade. The Kings will choose 19th. The Ducks will choose 12th and either 29th or 30th, depending on the outcome of the Cup Final.
They acquired the Flyers’ first-round pick in the Chris Pronger
trade last summer and that will be No. 29 if the Flyers lose to the Blackhawks and No. 30 if the Flyers rally to win the Cup.
Seguin and Hall are considered very close in talent level and potential. Seguin said even though they play different positions, their drive makes them more similar.
“We’re both very competitive, passionate guys and we both want to be the best,” he said. “We both pushed each other all year long, whether it’s for the point race, which we tied in, or the rivalry between both our teams.”
Having Hall push him helped, Seguin said.
“I think it was just a little extra. Even though we’d be up 5-1 I’d go out there and try to work my hardest. Maybe in the back of my mind it’s "Hey, you want to win the scoring race,” Seguin said.
“Obviously you want to be the best. Goal No. 1, I wanted to get No. 1 in the scoring race so that was a bit more for a drive.”
Hall compared his style to that of New Jersey winger Zach Parise
. “He’s a feisty winger. He’s got that down-low-to-the-ground skating style and he’s a great player,” Hall said.
He also said that while it would be an honor to be chosen first, he’s not hung up on that designation -- and that he spoke to Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane
about Kane’s experiences before being chosen No. 1 in 2007.
“There were a few guys vying for the No. 1 pick when he was there,” Hall said, “and he said it really doesn’t matter in your NHL career. Either way you’re going to have an NHL career and it’s what you make of it there. So I think it would be an honor to go No. 1 and be included with those guys there but if not, I’m not going to be too depressed.”
Before Kane was drafted he was a guest at the 2007 Cup finals and was in Anaheim for the Ducks’ 1-0 victory over Ottawa in Game 2. “It was a really tight-checking game, so it was pretty cool,” he said. “The place was on fire.... We got to go see California and different things and meet a lot of high-end people at this level.”
More later from the Stanley Cup finals at www.latimes.com/sports
-- Helene Elliott, in Philadelphia