In pursuit of an NCAA scholarship, Seguin chose to continue his junior career in Timmins.
In 2015, Derek Seguin left Timmins to play hockey in Hamilton, where he was sure to gain more exposure and improve his chances of reaching the OHL. There was no guarantee he’d ever play up north again.
On Tuesday, the Timmins Rock announced via Twitter that Seguin will return for a third season with the Junior ‘A’ club. Safe to say, a lot has changed for Seguin in four years.
“Growing up in Ontario, you look up to all these major junior players and it’s kind of like the mini-NHL,” said Seguin, who was a sixth-round draft pick by the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs in 2016. “It’s something that I looked forward to as a kid and then once I got face-to-face with it, I decided that it wasn’t for me.”
Seguin didn’t make the Bulldogs in his first junior season and instead was sent to a Junior ‘B’ team in Brantford. After one year, he returned home to play for the Rock. At that point, he decided to pursue a different route: earning a scholarship to play NCAA Division I hockey.
That aspiration may be within reach for Seguin, who posted team-highs in goals (34) and points (64) in 52 games with Timmins last year. He certainly has a vote of confidence from Rock head coach Corey Beer.
“He’s a pro prospect in our estimation here,” Beer said. “The NCAA route (is) something that’s been more dialed in for him. He’s been communicating with a bunch of different schools and we’re pretty confident that there’s going to be a scholarship on the table for him in the near future.”
Seguin has an adviser who handles communication with NCAA scouts and coaches. Since college recruitment happens year-round, there’s a good chance he could commit to a school sometime during the Rock’s season.
“That’s what I’m hoping for,” Seguin said.
The dream schools are either North Dakota or someplace in the Ivy League, but Seguin isn’t going to be that picky. He really just wants to earn a scholarship, play high-level collegiate hockey and study business or philosophy.
It’s important to note that his goal to play in the NCAA clashes with any potential opportunity to play major junior hockey (i.e. in the OHL, QMJHL or WHL) because the NCAA requires athletes to maintain amateur status. And according to NCAA rules, major junior players aren’t amateurs.
Seguin did have another brush with major junior hockey last year when he decided to skate with the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and “use it as a measuring stick” to see how he compared. He made it through two rounds of cuts, down to a stage in which three players were competing for two roster spots. But at that point, exhibition games were starting and he couldn’t participate because it would tarnish his amateur status.
Rouyn-Noranda, by the way, won the Memorial Cup as Canada’s top junior team this past spring.
Meanwhile, Seguin became the Rock’s captain and had a banner year. Beer expects more of the same for the 19-year-old centre this season, thanks in part to his propensity to over-prepare.
“He’s in my office before and after practice, before and after games,” Beer said. “He’ll stay and want to watch video and go through stuff. He enjoys the grind of what it means to be a Junior ‘A’ player. You fill your roster with 20 Derek Seguins, there’s not too many teams in the country that can touch you.”
Seguin said he heard from other junior teams in Canada and the U.S. that wanted to add him to their rosters. But with his sights set firmly on the NCAA, staying home felt like the right choice.
“There’s no better place to play and improve than here,” Seguin said. “And it being my hometown, and the support I get from the community, obviously helped my decision.”