TORONTO - Plymouth Whalers centre Tyler Seguin was crushed when he didn't make the Canadian team for the world junior hockey championship last December.
The decision only increased his desire to be a better player and the results soon followed. Seguin finished tied for the Ontario Hockey League lead in scoring and moved past Windsor Spitfires forward Taylor Hall into top spot in the NHL Central Scouting rankings.
Seguin was rewarded for his effort Wednesday when he was named the OHL's most outstanding player of the year.
"It was definitely a big motivational turnaround for me," Seguin said of not making the junior squad. "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 finished with 106 points (48 goals, 58 assists) in 63 games. He's the first Whaler to win the Red Tilson Trophy since David Legwand in 1997-98.
Seguin received 224 points in voting by writers and broadcasters who cover the OHL. 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 the Edmonton Oilers will select either Hall or Seguin with the first overall pick at the June 25-26 NHL entry draft in Los Angeles.
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.
This was Seguin's second season in the OHL. His Whalers were swept out of the second round of the playoffs by Hall and the Spitfires. Hall, who has played three OHL seasons, scored the winner Tuesday night as Windsor opened the league championship with a 4-3 win at Barrie.
Seguin doesn't buy talk that he might be the slight favourite heading into the draft.
"It's going to come down to what the team needs," Seguin said. "I keep hearing it's like a 1-A and a 1-B but I'm trying to stay as modest as I can. I could still go three or four. It's coming closer and closer and I'm really excited for that day to come."
Seguin, a native of Brampton, Ont., never got untracked at the selection camp for the world junior team. Hall was a standout and went on to help Canada win a silver medal.
"I didn't play my game but I used it as a good learning experience," Seguin said. "I kind of turned everything around after that. It motivated me and sparked the fire.
"After that things just started rolling and I finished strong."
Seguin was selected Team Orr MVP at the CHL-NHL Top Prospects Game last January. The six-foot-one 186-pounder helped Canada win gold at the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic. He also won a gold medal with Team Ontario at the World U-17 Challenge.
Other winners of the Red Tilson Trophy include Frank Mahovlich (Toronto, 1957), Doug Gilmour (Cornwall, 1983), Eric Lindros (Oshawa, 1991) and John Tavares (Oshawa, 2007).
Also Wednesday, Regina Pats forward Jordan Eberle was named Western Hockey League player of the year. Mike Hoffman of the Saint John Sea Dogs was named the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's MVP last month.