Unlike the OHL scoring title, winning the Red Tilson Trophy as the OHL’s most outstanding player is one award Plymouth Whaler centre Tyler Seguin will not have to share.
The 18-year-old from Brampton, Ont., accepted the award Wednesday afternoon at the Hockey Hall of Fame in downtown Toronto.
“I’m very proud and humbled to be accepting this award today as it is a very exciting day for my family and I,” said Seguin reading his prepared speech.
Seguin beat out fellow finalists Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires and Nazem Kadri of the London Knights in the regular-season voting which is conducted by OHL sports writers and broadcast media. Seguin and Hall are the runaway favourites to be taken with the first two picks in June’s NHL entry draft. The Edmonton Oilers own the first pick, followed by the Boston Bruins, who collected the selection in the Phil Kessel trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs last September.
“It was definitely a good season,” said Seguin. “I definitely had some goals in mind. I wanted to finish better than we did last year as a team, but that was one of the goals we did not reach and that was unfortunate. Personally I wanted to get my points to 50 and 50, which I accomplished minus the goals and right now I’m looking forward to the NHL draft and seeing what happens and where I end up landing.”
Seguin was ranked No.1 in the final North American standings put out by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau. Hall gained a measure of revenge in the playoffs when the Windsor Spitfires eliminated Plymouth in four straight games to move into the OHL Western Conference final.
“He knows what it takes to win,” said Plymouth head coach and GM Mike Vellucci, prior to the award announcement. “I think his actions on the ice, and not just games, but practices as well (spoke volumes). He came this year with a focus to be the hardest working guy in practice and quite honestly from the first practice we had this year, he worked so hard. I thought he worked harder in some practices than he did in some of the games. That’s how committed he was to it.”
In the 63 regular-season games Seguin played, the Whalers scored a total of 226 goals with the six-foot-one centre contributing 48 goals and 58 assists. So according to the math, Seguin figured in on 46.9 per cent of the Whalers offense.
“We didn’t have a lot of offence and we had a lot of injuries early on in the year and he brought almost all of our offence,” said Vellucci. “He made the guys around him better… he was the main guy throughout the year.”
Seguin finished tied with Hall for the OHL scoring title with 106 points, so unlike the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy for top scorer, Seguin will get to keep this hardware all to himself.
“In the end everyone was making (a big deal) over the Taylor-Tyler thing and I don’t think the pressure got to him, I just think (Windsor) did a great job playing against him,” said Vellucci. “One thing I notice with Tyler, if you give him a challenge he accepts it and he really responds to it and takes his game to the next level.”
Despite coaching a number of NHL stars, including James Neal of the Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers forward Stephen Weiss and Jared Boll of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Vellucci says Seguin’s efforts top them all.
“His work ethic is better than any of them and I don’t want to name names,” said Vellucci. “But he is committed to being in the best possible shape and he is committed to work on his game no matter if he is the best player in the league or the number one scorer he is still working on his game at all times.”
Sunaya Sapurji is the Jr. Hockey Editor at Yahoo! Sports. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org