Seguin, Eberle top junior hockey players
Forwards and potential NHL teammates Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers and Jordan Eberle of the Regina Pats were named the top players in their respective major junior leagues on Wednesday.
Seguin won the Red Tilson Trophy as the Ontario Hockey League's outstanding player after recording 106 points in 63 games this past season. He is the first Whaler to do so since David Legwand in 1997-98.
"It is a very exciting day for me and I want to thank my family, coaches, and my teammates," the 18-year-old said in a statement. "I accomplished a lot of my personal goals this season. I wish the team could have gone farther in the playoffs, but overall it was a great year."
Seguin was crushed when he didn't make the Canadian team for the world junior hockey championship last December.
"It was definitely a big motivational turnaround for me," Seguin said. "Coming into the OHL, I [was drafted] ninth overall. So that motivated me to be the best. Then going into that camp and not making it was a heartbreaker, and it took me two days to get over it.
"I was depressed, then after that it was back to the gym and I came out and I had two strong months."
Seguin received 224 points in voting by writers and broadcasters who cover the OHL. Windsor Spitfires forward Taylor Hall, who finished tied with Seguin for the scoring lead, was second with 197 points. Nazem Kadri of the London Knights was third with 34 points.
Many scouts expect either Hall or Seguin to be selected with the first overall pick in this June's NHL entry draft. They shared honours for the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy, which goes to the OHL leading goal scorer.
E.J. McGuire said it's the tightest race he's seen in his five years as NHL Central Scouting director.
"This is the closest, and this is the most see-saw back and forth [debate] that those at our in-house scouting meetings have had about the top pick," McGuire said.
Considered one of the most dangerous junior players around the opponent's net, Eberle took the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as the Western Hockey League's player of the year on Wednesday.
The Edmonton Oilers prospect scored clutch goals in back-to-back world junior championships for Canada, but the Regina native was also a big producer for his hometown Pats with 50 goals and 56 assists in 57 regular-season games. He also finished second in the league in power play and short-handed goals.
"It's been an unbelievable junior career, to play in my hometown and win this award," Eberle said. "You look at some of the past winners from the Regina Pats, two are hanging up in the rafters and one is from the NHL. The talent they had this year, it's a very prestigious award."
Eberle's 1.86 points per game was the highest average in the WHL since Calgary Hitmen forward Pavel Brendl's 1.97 during the 1998-99 season.
The 20-year-old finished tied for second in power-play goals (19) and short-handed goals (six). After the Pats' season ended, the Oilers assigned Eberle to the American Hockey League's Springfield Falcons and he had six goals and eight assists in 11 games.
Eberle was in his fourth season with the Pats, racking up 310 points in 254 games. He was selected 22nd overall by the Oilers in the 2008 draft and saw ice time after his WHL team was eliminated with Edmonton's American Hockey League affiliate.
Eberle scored six goals and eight assists in 11 games with Springfield.
Martin Jones of the Calgary Hitmen was named top WHL goaltender and Tyson Barrie of the Kelowna Rockets was named top defenceman. Jones signed a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Kings while Barrie was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche.
Brandon Kozun of the Hitmen, with 32 goals and 75 assists, took home the Bob Clarke Trophy as the WHL's top scorer while Red Deer Rebels centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was named the WHL's rookie of the year.
Mike Hoffman of the Saint John Sea Dogs was named the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's MVP in March.
The Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year winner among Seguin, Eberle and Hoffman will be named during the Memorial Cup next month in Brandon, Man.
With files from The Canadian Press