BRANDON, Man. -- Plymouth Whalers forward Tyler Seguin was named the CHL's top prospect at an annual awards ceremony on Saturday, just one day before his biggest rival takes to the ice to defend his MasterCard Memorial Cup title.
Seguin finished the season ranked atop NHL Central Scouting's list of draft eligible players, one spot ahead of Taylor Hall, the forward who is leading the Windsor Spitfires into Canadian junior hockey's championship game on Sunday. The two players tied for the OHL's regular season scoring crown with 106 points, fuelling debate over which prospect will be taken first in next month's NHL Entry Draft.
"At the end of the day, I still want to be first," Seguin said. "Hall and I don't hate each other ... and if it happens that I don't go No. 1, I'm not going to be all depressed."
Whoever is taken first overall could become a teammate of Jordan Eberle, who was named the CCM CHL Player of the Year. The 20-year-old forward scored 50 goals and finished with 56 assists with the Regina Pats this year, two years after the Edmonton Oilers took him 22nd overall in the draft.
The Oilers hold the first pick in next month's draft.
"I think Seguin is a little bit more of a playmaker, and Hall might be a little bit more of a goal-scorer," Whalers coach Mike Vellucci said. "But I think, packaged together, they're very comparable."
Seguin had also been nominated as the CHL's Player of the Year, along with Saint John Sea Dogs star Mike Hoffman.
"I think we're both just two kids striving for the dream, and we both push each other," Seguin said of Hall. "We both are very competitive, and we strive for the best."
Moncton Wildcats stalwart David Savard was named the CHL's best defenceman, while Drummonville's Jake Allen was announced as the top goaltender. Matt Puempel was named top rookie after his stellar debut with the Peterborough Petes, and Chicoutimi's Dominic Jalbert was named scholastic player of the year.
Gerard Gallant was named coach of the year for helping the Sea Dogs compile a 53-12-3 regular season record, earning the first regular season title in franchise history. He beat out Dale Hunter (London Knights) and Mark Holick (Kootenay Ice) for the award.
"It's great to get recognized," Gallant said. "And like I've always said, when you get recognized as individuals, you know your team has done very well."
Plymouth's Ryan Hayes was named the humanitarian of the year and Moose Jaw's Jason Bast was named sportsman of the year.
Calgary Hitmen forward Brandon Kozun was also recognized as the CHL's top scorer -- for a season in which he earned 107 points -- one day after his team was eliminated from the Memorial Cup playoffs by the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Wheat Kings beat the Hitmen with an overtime goal in the semifinal game on Friday, earning the right to face the Spitfires on Sunday.
"It's a huge honour to win an award," Kozun said. "It's a shame we didn't get to win the one we wanted."