Edmonton Oilers chief scout Stu MacGregor came out and said it Tuesday night — the Oilers will take Windsor Spitfires star and two-time Memorial Cup winner and MVP Taylor Hall first. Then, they’ll take Tyler Seguin.
Now that I’ve got your attention, I’m talking, of course, about the order of interviews being conducted by an Edmonton contingent that includes MacGregor, GM Steve Tambellini, president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and OHL scouts Kent Hawley and Brad Davis at the NHL Combine in Toronto.
Having interviewed 22 players Tuesday, the Oilers will be sitting down with Hall on Wednesday for a 20-minute session just before the lunch hour. They will interview Seguin Thursday.
So, does who goes first in the poke-and-prod sessions between Hall and Seguin telegraph who goes first on draft day in Los Angeles, where the Oilers have first pick? MacGregor, surprising nobody, isn’t saying.
MacGregor’s silence aside, don’t bet on it.
TALK IS CHEAP
While some people insist player interviews at the combine carry a lot of weight in the decision-making process, and that can be the case if a prospect absolutely soils the sheets in the gab session — or shows up for the draft with two black eyes like brawler Link Gaetz did back in 1988 — MacGregor is downplaying the interview.
"It’s a minor part of it all," MacGregor said from Toronto after wrapping up interviews on Tuesday. "It’s about getting to know them a bit more. We’ve already had discussions with these kids.
"Steve (Tambellini) wants to make sure we go through the process. Each and every day you look at it and you evaluate it. Maybe you can pick up something you missed."
Realistically, and even if MacGregor won’t say it, neither Hall nor Seguin are going to change anybody’s mind with what they say in these sessions. MacGregor, himself, has already had two face-to-face talks with Hall and Seguin, as have other members of the Oilers contingent.
Nobody’s going to come up with a psyche-probing question that’s going to tip the scales, are they? In the case of Hall and Seguin, no.
While MacGregor declined an invitation to slip me his list on the down-low, I’m still of the mind the Oilers will take Seguin, even with Hall’s MVP performance for Windsor at the MC in Brandon.
With the majority of Oilers fans clamouring for Hall in the wake of his playoff performance, many suggesting there’s no good reason to take Seguin first overall — really? — the call will come down to MacGregor.
One thing perhaps lost in the debate about the dynamic Hall and the talented Seguin, the right-handed centre from the Plymouth Whalers, is that maybe there is no bad pick from this tandem.
"I don’t think there’s a miss here," MacGregor said. "We’ve seen both these players a lot and both of them are special for different reasons. Having said that, you want to get the best guy."
Think Seguin. Just saying…
I was chatting with Bob Stauffer today and we got around to talking about former Oiler Eric Brewer, and whether it would make sense for Tambellini to pursue him, maybe in a package with tough guy D.J. King.
The Oilers, of course, are thin on the back end beyond Ryan Whitney, Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid, if you assume Sheldon Souray is history, which he is. Likewise in the tough guy department, considering the Oilers will likely ice a small and young line-up and are weaklings beyond willing Zack Stortini.
We got to plugging names into scenarios, and Brewer and King came up in the conversation. With Brewer, it’s because the Blues might be looking to move him and his $4.25 million cap hit because they have a young, loaded defence that includes Erik Johnson, veteran Barret Jackman and Roman Polak, to name just three, vying for minutes.
King, of course, is an up-and-coming ruffian who can play a little, and he’s an RFA who made $550,000 this season. He’ll be cheap and he’d fit better into Pat Quinn’s "has to be able to play" edict than a re-cycled cop like Georges Laraque or Derek Boogaard.
Brewer, now 31, is worth his cap hit when healthy, but that’s a big "if" when you consider shoulder surgery and back problems have limited him to 87 games the past two seasons.
Even if the Blues would take a Patrick O’Sullivan or Robert Nilsson in a swap, I’d pass on Brewer because of his recent medical history. It makes no sense to spend north of $4 million on a guy who might play fewer than 60 games. The Oilers, for the time being, already have that in Souray.
As for King, 26, I’d make a phone call on him, but the first questions I’d ask are about the right hand injuries (he needed surgery) and shoulder problems he’s had. There’s some risk with him, too, but it’s a $600,000 or $700,000 gamble, not a $4.25-million roll of the dice.
THIS AND THAT
— I don’t get it when some fans espouse the need for the Oilers to acquire an agitator — fill in the name of your favourite loudmouthed, face-washer-cheapshot-artist here.
If you’re talking about adding hard-nosed players who make a team more difficult to play against — a Steve Ott or a Daniel Carcillo — fine. If you’re talking about the type of players who wag their gums or do much of their handiwork after the whistle, that makes no sense.
The Oilers don’t have enough toughness in their line-up to take care of the small, soft players they already have. So how is it they would benefit from bringing in a sh*t-disturber to start stuff they can’t finish?
— MacGregor and the rest of he Oilers staff will take a backseat when prospects go through their fitness testing, starting Friday.
The Oilers contingent will leave it to fitness consultant Simon Bennett to decipher results from the testing sessions.
— Mark Pysyk of the Edmonton Oil Kings, Nino Niederreiter of the Portland Winter Hawks and Vladimir Tarasenko of Novosibirsk (Russia) are among the top prospects interviewed by the Oilers already.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.