HALL VS SEGUIN VS SKINNER: THE STUPIDEST NHL DEBATE OF THE LAST TWO YEARS (PART 4)

Previously, we saw how Seguin made a huge leap forward in his second season, leading this talented trio – as well as his own entire team – in scoring.  We also saw Hall improve significantly but still continue to struggle with injuries, and Skinner also had injury troubles coupled with worse luck than his rookie year and subsequently struggle to put up as many points, though he still had a solid season.

This instalment is going to take a look at their overall careers so far and how they match up.  Seeing as Skinner won the first bout, and Seguin took the title in the second, will this be Hall’s moment to shine?  It might not be that simple.  Let’s take a look.

Hall, Seguin and Skinner – Career So Far

To summarise the careers of Hall, Seguin and Skinner so far after two NHL seasons:

  • Hall – two consecutive 20 goal seasons right off the bat are impressive no matter who you are.  Injuries robbed him of being able to show how good he was in comparison to the other two in each season, and as I will show later, the injury factor can be taken both ways.  Dominating on the powerplay, and brilliance at tilting the ice in favour of his team at even strength whenever he’s on the ice, are two of his best attributes demonstrated in both years.  Many have argued he’s put up big stats because he’s on a bad team and thus able to get far more opportunity, but you could equally argue that he’s put up big stats in spite of playing on a bad team.  I tend to go with the latter statement, and the stats support that – his ice time isn’t so different from Skinner, and he’s played against tougher competition both years than the other two, by a significant margin.
  • Seguin – a huge leap forward from an underwhelming – yet understandable if you look at the context – rookie year resulted in Seguin being catapulted to the front of the argument, having the best individual season by traditional scoring stats of any of the three to date.  Questions could be asked about whether Seguin is the player he was in 10-11, or the one he dazzled us with in 11-12, or somewhere in between, but nothing I’ve seen really suggests he’s going to slow down, although he has had the benefit of a massively better team over the other two.  That said, not just anyone can put up great numbers – you generally have to be talented to warrant being put in that position.
  • Skinner – the disappointment of his second season has not really seemed to take away from the perception that he is hugely talented, and overall I’d agree that it shouldn’t.  But questions do remain as to who he really is, as his rookie year shooting percentage was quite high, and he kind of came out of nowhere to post great-yet-unexpected numbers.

Career Averages: By The Numbers

Here is the breakdown of each player’s career averages – i.e. not their total stats to date but what they’ve averaged over their first two seasons (Yellow Cells indicate the player with the best result, Red the worst):

seguin hall skinner career average table

  • This is where Hall’s injuries take a toll on his traditional scoring stats, as he comes in either last or 2nd – never 1st – in all areas; EXCEPT, that is, for career average points per game, where he wins the day hands down.  There isn’t a massive difference between him and Skinner, although Skinner was the only one whose PPG rate regressed from one year to the next – hence the questions about him.  Yes you can say injuries impacted that, but then you must use the same argument with Hall – it can’t be a “yeah but if he was healthy…” for one player and a “he got injured so he’s not as good” for another player, an attitude I’ve seen all too often.  Here, Hall represents both consistency and improvement, Seguin a massive leap but still behind thanks to such an underwhelming rookie campaign, and Skinner an impressive total pulled down ever so slightly by a sophomore year that wasn’t as far behind his first as the stats suggest but still not the improvement most hoped for.
  • Hall has evidently been the weakest player of the three at even strength play, coming in last in both goals and points per 60 minutes.  This surprised me somewhat, but when you look at the individual seasons, Hall was usually in between the other two (except for G/60 in 11/12), but because he wasn’t fuelled by an outstanding total in either season, but rather gradual progression (and he did progress year-to-year), he falls behind in this aspect.  The numbers aren’t all that different, with the stat only having a range of 0.325 points per 60.  I could defend it by saying both Seguin and Skinner have superior 5v5 teams, but at the end of the day the other two have more impressive stats and that should be celebrated.  Being able to put up points during 5v5 play is probably one of the most important aspects of hockey, and Seguin and Skinner have both represented superior skills at doing so.  Remember, Seguin wasn’t all that far behind in even strength scoring per 60 during his rookie year, so he never was a slouch in that area, and it could end up being one of his greatest assets.
  • The powerplay is where Hall shines, certainly fuelled in 11-12 by an Oilers team that had great success, but even in 10-11 when the Oilers were 27th in the entire league on the man advantage, Hall put up superior goals per 60 numbers, demonstrating considerable talent at that discipline.  Skinner isn’t far behind Hall at 5v4 points per 60 in spite of an anaemic Carolina powerplay, and Seguin isn’t yet demonstrating quite the same ability as the other two, although it was yet another thing that his rookie year has dragged down, as he showed massive improvement in that area in 11-12.
  • Plus/minus is generally more of a team stat and hence not as valuable when looking at these player individually, but I think it’s safe to say Skinner and Hall will never really be defensive minded players, at least not from evidence so far in their careers, but that Seguin could be a very good, two play player, and that is hugely valuable to any team, and highly commendable for a young player.  It should be noted that Boston was a dominant 5v5 team, coming in first in the league for 5v5 Goals For/Against Ratio, and that would no doubt help Seguin out, as would playing with Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron.  It will be interesting to see how Seguin fares for a few more seasons, but I don’t see Boston dropping off any time soon, so Seguin should continue to excel in that metric.  The thing is, because they all play on such vastly different teams, it’s tough to really compare them via this stat, by either way the advantage hands down goes to Seguin.
  • Hall has been dominating the Corsi Rel stat for two straight seasons, and whilst Seguin posted a better number in 11-12, Hall has been doing it right off the bat, still finding room for big improvement from one year to the next, and against far tougher opposition than the other two.  That is hugely impressive for such a young player to be able to do that, and thus is he able to be labelled what stats people call a “tough minutes player”, a guy who drives the play in the right direction.  Hockey is all about puck possession, and Hall absolutely excels at that, in fact he is a monster at it.  Seguin should continue to improve, and he should see his quality of competition improve, but Hall is doing it right now, which is the most impressive thing.  Unfortunately for Skinner, I see him being more of a soft minutes killer;  I could be wrong, but I don’t see him as a dominant driver of play against the best the other teams can offer.
  • All three guys have been close to equal in terms of getting a slight push in the offensive zone, so there isn’t really much to talk about there.  Their offensive skills are their main traits for all three, so getting a slight push kind of makes sense.
  • Skinner is a bit of a freak in this regard, proving to be hot stuff when it comes to drawing penalties AND not hurting his team by taking dumb ones too often.  Hall doesn’t hurt his team much either, and while good at drawing penalties, he isn’t in the same league as Skinner.  I was surprised to see Seguin so far behind in this stat, given his speed (which naturally assists in the ability to draw a penalty as it forces other players to clutch and grab and hook), but it evidently isn’t something he’s been particularly adept at thus far, although he hurts his team even less than the other two do which can only be a good thing.

Adjusting Scoring for 82 Games

Hall Skate To The Face

Yeah, ouch. Soft? I don’t think so.

One of the things I’ve wrestled with in this analysis is whether to include the players’ scoring stats, adjusted to if each of them had played an 82 game schedule.  The thing is, a player who is injured would have had far more impressive stats compared to his healthier peers had he himself been able to play a full season, and thus when someone is taking a glance at the box-scores, would be more impressed by what said player managed to do.  Hence it is valuable to take that “what might have been” eventuality into account.  However, it mustn’t be forgotten that that player did in fact not play the full schedule.  Like it or not, how healthy a player is does factor in to how valuable he is to his team.  From that perspective, we shouldn’t allow our judgement to be completely clouded with a “yeah, but if he had stayed healthy he would have scored X amount” justification for why he doesn’t stack up to the rest – he didn’t stay healthy, and thus he didn’t score X amount.

That said, I have decided to include those stats, as I think too many people who aren’t into looking at the advanced stats have been saying how Hall is apparently a bust, and disappointing because he’s a first overall pick who hasn’t yet hit 30 goals or 70 points.  It’s simply not true.  When he is playing, Hall is approaching an elite level; his numbers shown below bear out that statement, and if he had played full seasons, would likely be considered the class of this group.

hall seguin skinner 10-11 82 games stats

We can see here that whilst Skinner is still the definite leader of the pack, Hall isn’t far behind at all.

hall seguin skinner 11-12 82 games stats

Hall is the clear leader here, becoming the first to post close to 40 goals and the only one to earn over 70 points thus far.  These numbers, in this day and age in the NHL, are top line numbers, and would have seen Hall tie with Loui Erikson for 20th in the league for points, and tie with Matt Moulson for 10th in league goal scoring.  Seguin is not far behind in total points, coming in at joint 27th in the league, whilst Skinner is slightly lagging behind.  Whilst not as impressive a jump in points as Seguin’s was, it’s still nearly a 20 point improvement.  As mentioned before, whilst Skinner lags behind, he really isn’t far off his pace from the previous year – only by 6 points, and 5 of those are goals which can be partly attributed to less luck with the shooting percentage.

hall seguin skinner career average 82 games stats

We can see that Hall and Skinner are neck and neck overall, whilst Seguin pays the price purely because of such a sub-par rookie year.

So, if Hall hadn’t been injured, he could well have come out smelling like roses and being heaped with praise.  It’s important to remember that, but it’s equally important to remember that he did get injured, whether they were freak injuries or not, and that does hurt his value.  That said, and of course I am slightly biased towards Hall, to put up nearly 30 goals in a season where you lost 21 games to injury is damn impressive, in my opinion.  But that seems lost on some people.

Conclusion: THEY ARE ALL DAMN GOOD PLAYERS

As with all star players, they all have their pro’s and con’s:

  • All three showed progression in their underlying numbers from year to year, if not in their scoring stats aswell.  As such, they are clearly all still developing as players and should continue to show improvement.  To label any of them a bust at this point, particularly after they’ve all had 20-30 goal seasons under the age of 21, is just plain stupid.
  • Hall has had his stock hurt big time by the injuries, and of course that must be taken into consideration, but it’s completely unfair for anyone to label him as crap or not as good as Seguin or Skinner because of that.  Be better than that.  These stats show he is every bit as good as them, he’s just had horrendous luck with injury.  He’s already playing at a near-elite level, and there is no reason to believe he shouldn’t get even better – especially now with fully healed shoulders.
  • Seguin improved beyond belief in his second year, giving the look of a franchise player and elite scorer, which a team like the Bruins desperately need, as they have lacked that truly high end scorer since Marc Savard went down with concussion issues.  No reason to believe he shouldn’t continue his ascent.
  • Skinner almost sustained his level of play overall from the previous year in terms of scoring, and improved in other aspects too.  I don’t expect him to reach quite the level that Hall and Seguin could, but I may be wrong, and there isn’t really any reason not to expect to see him improve aswell, although he perhaps does have a bigger question mark than the other two simply because he did regress a small bit.  The kid, like Hall, has two 20 goals seasons (one of which was actually a 30 goal season) under his belt as one of the youngest players in the league, and that is damn difficult to do no matter who you are.  Jeff will be scoring goals for a long time in this league that’s for sure.

In Part 5: Dispelling the myths behind the debate.

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