MacGregor spills the beans: Hall will go first!

Windsor Spitfires Taylor Hall hoists the Memorial Cup after defeating the Brandon Wheat Kings in Brandon

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.

CAN’T MISS?

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…

DAMAGED GOODS

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.

  • THEBIGD

    I can tell you what? If the Oilers don’t take Taylor Hall I will burn my Oiler Jersey and never go to another Oiler game again ever.As he is by far the best player,and is ready to play in the N.H.L. this coming season. I am sick and tired of watching the Oilers Scouting Staff not picking the best player.This is there first time to get the first over all pick and it better be
    Taylor Hall not Tyler Seguin.Taylor has been the best player in JR and if you seen the goal he scored last Sunday at the Memorial Cup it looked like a goal by Wayne Gretzky.If you have not seen the goal look on You Tube.This kid is a goal scorer and he scores a lot.But his defenses
    game is there as well. He will be the next big Super Star in just a few short years.I hope to God MacGregor sees this too.If not he should be fired.Which I believe he should have been years ago.Why they keep him is beyond me.As he was done years ago.Please make the correct pick for once

  • Is it just me, or do the citizens of the nation seemingly get dumber by the day? Maybe we should start testing…

    Anyways, who does everyone think the Oilers should draft 1st?

    Off topic (thank god), but I’m just thinking out loud here… St. Louis signs Marty Turco or Dan Ellis. Armstrong is familiar with both and Mason’s recent performance didn’t help him.

      • Well… first off, its not “my” flamesnation. Secondly, its actually doing significantly better over the past 4-6 months… mayve you should ask your old man about it πŸ˜‰

        And how did you twist what I said into any kind of Flames v. Oilers beef… sheeesh!

        Seriously, we’ve got people here blasting the team for not making any moves yet. DUH. We may need to start a de-sterilization process if it gets much worse.

      • The best prospect is Taylor Hall, not Tyler Seguin. Seguin is good but he’s not the best prospect.

        A guy from CSS even admitted the reason Seguin was ranked ahead of Hall was because he was “right-handed centre”.

        Both Tambellini and MacGregor have said they will be going for BPA and not for position or team needs. To me that means Hall. I believe the Oilers are leaning towards Hall.

        • Tracie

          A guy from CSS admitted they were EQUAL and that TS got rated ahead of TH b/c he was a right handed center. so with ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL, they had to give it to one player and they gave it to TS b/c of position.

          The CSS rating TS over TH b/c he was a center doesn’t mean that Hall is the better player. THEY ARE EQUAL.

          If you think Hall is the better player, fine. But that’s your thoughts. Don’t go using the CSS as your backer and say that they said Hall was the better player. I read the article you posted and it said that both will be great players and if you watched one play, you would walk away thinking he’s your guy, until you watched the other play.

          If they are equal, then there is not BPA between the two…so you draft for position. We have tons of wingers coming up and we need a center. I agree that TH shows he’s a big game player and has a lot of impressive stats on his resume, but TS is the one that won the OHL and CHL awards. not TH. There has to be a reason. And not just b/c he plays center.

  • RE: Kyle Turris

    People talk about him like he’s a total flop. He was a Jr. A player who played his freshman college season and turned pro. Safe to say, his development is a tad behind (not to mention his physical maturity), but I don’t think he’s a bust by any stretch. Phoenix did the right thing with him last year and let him develop in the A. Don’t confuse that with him being a bust. I’m thinking he turns out to be a pretty good player when it’s all said and done.

  • Ball Buster

    Stop Gap Management trend may be our biggest problem ,and may prevent Oilers from developing either Sequin or Hall . It might even prevent us from developing all the other young talent as well . You can’t continue or hope to develop young talent with a revolving door of disgruntled usefull veterans wanting out of this organization .

    Continuing to fill holes created by good NHL players with downgrades ( stop gap measurements ) has been a nasty trend since the Pronger days . It doesn’t work . We have to make trades , etc. that give us an upgrade somewhere along the line . The revolving door of veterans who want out of this organization is serious. Oilers are proof these less than adequate band aid solutions do not work and snowball into even more problems .

    Until the Oilers learn the stop gap method does not work , then we may never get other players to come here, or even keep the ones we currently require.

    The tools players require to progress and be happy to play and stay here will change when the Oilers are finished filling voids with less than adequate fill ins ! Creating more problems and not filling the old voids has driven us into last place deservedly so . This trend has got to end if we hope to develop and keep our young talent.

  • Ball Buster

    Obvious post of the day:
    On the topic of “Right-handed centre” . . .

    I’m pretty sure the term is right shooting centre.

    If you’re right-handed, you shoot left and there are hundreds of centremen like that.

    Seguin is a right-shooting centre, i.e., rare in the NHL.

    Back to the tired Hall/Seguin topic, can’t remember what post number it was but “Crash” posted the trade idea of Souray, Cogliano etc. to Boston for the Bruins’ 1st pick.

    As food for thought, here is what went down in 1999 when Burke snagged #2 and #3 (borrowed from HF Boards):

    1999-Jun-26 1st Round Draft pick traded from Chicago Blackhawks to Vancouver Canucks for Bryan McCabe and conditional draft pick

    1999-Jun-26 1st Round Draft pick traded from Tampa Bay Lightning to Vancouver Canucks for round 1 pick in the 1999 draft , round 3 pick in the 1999 draft and round 3 pick in the 1999 draft

    1999-Jun-26 1st Round Draft pick traded from Atlanta Thrashers with round 3 pick in the 2000 draft to Vancouver Canucks for round 1 pick in the 1999 draft

    • Travis Dakin

      I’m right-handed (as in I write with my right) and I shoot right-handed and golf right-handed and swing a bat right-handed.

      And there are 700 players in the NHL. I wouldn’t say “hundreds” of them are Right-handed centres who shoot left.

      if you want to nitpick…

      • Ball Buster

        Congratulations on your freakish handedness, American spy!!!

        And I didn’t say that there were hundreds in the NHL. The math is obviously not going to support that. But even so, it could have been considered exaggeration for effect. Let’s not nitpick.

  • Travis Dakin

    Seguin/Hall Hall/Seguin you know what I’m an Oiler fan and as my posts show I like Hall but Beeing an Oiler fan I will support who ever they pick we all have reasons we want one or the other, on June 25th I hope this debate ends and we just give the 1st pick all the Oilersnation support.

    • MacGregor clearly stated that he would be selecting the player he thought was BPA. Whatever his choice will be, its the guy he thinks is the best player.

      The argument is that if skill level is equal, then the team should select the right shot Centre over the Winger. The key part is the IF THE SKILL LEVEL IS EQUAL section.

      • Dyckster

        The term BPA, in my eyes, is a slippery slope. The word “best” could mean BEST talent, or BEST for the given situation. It could be argued for instance, if Seguin is in fact second in talent to Hall, he could still be the BPA for the Oilers.

        I haven’t got an opinion either way, but it sure is tough not to lean towards Hall after his performance in Brandon.

  • Ryan14

    One reason I am not going to go with CSS is this:

    CSS NA top 3 final rankings:
    2005:
    1) Sidney Crosby
    2) Benoit Pouliot
    3) Bobby Ryan

    2006:
    1) Erik Johnson
    2) Jordan Staal
    3) Jonathan Toews

    2007:
    1) Kyle turris
    2) Patrick Kane
    3) James Van Riemsdyk

    2008:
    1) Steven Stamkos
    2) Zach Bogosian
    3) Drew Doughty

    Every year, except for ’06, there is a name there that doesn’t really belong. They seem to get all cute before the draft and put some guy up there who doesn’t belong. I’m going with Stu MacGregor before I go with CSS.

  • All three from 2006 are good players. If Johnson hadnt lost an entire year I dont know if youd think that he doesnt belong.

    Zach Bogosian was described as a man-child. He was more physically mature than Doughty was. Sounds familiar?

    2007, I dont have an excuse for that, but being wrong while projecting 18 yr olds is common for every scouting service.

  • Dyckster

    I may be out to lunch here, but I don’t think this year can be compared straight up with the 2007 Turris/Kane year.

    Hall and Seguin play in the same league against the same competition, and I would imagine this makes comparison between the two (slightly) easier for scouts. Turris and Kane played in completely different leagues and I would imagine that it would be difficult to compare the two players.

    As I said above, maybe I’m wrong about this.

    I personally would prefer Seguin for many of the reasons previously stated, but I’m the first to admit that I have no real clue about either guy. I only know what I have read and heard from various interviews from scouts. I must also say that I listened to the interview Jason Gregor had with Seguin last week, and I was impressed with the kid’s poise during the questioning.

    For the record, I’d be ok with Hall joining the Oilers, ,too.

  • Dyckster

    Who’s going to be better Eberle or Seguin ? Both have played for teams of non elite junior squads . Hall can play with Eberle as we have all seen at a high level , but will he play just as well and be as successfull with Seguin ? Eberle has yet to crack the lineup, and i suspect it might be the same route for Seguin if we choose him over Hall . Hall is NHL ready if Eberle is .

  • Dyckster

    Addressing the injury problem , the workplace environment and developing our youth all at once . Over the last several years our veterans have been playing above their physical capabilities to a great extent resulting in poorer overall play and many injuries . The smaller players have relied to heavily on our core to do the physical work load of the team .

    Getting rid of a deterent like Laracque did not help .They (management ) overassummed ,to our detriment , that the club was physically capable of playing tough team hockey with such an overload of small soft players . I don’t blame the players for that oversight/assumption . It was just too much to ask and expect from our usually good veterans . Their games veterans and rookies have had their games suffer because of it . Now, many want out because of it . Downsizing and downgrading was the wrong avenue to go as we all witnessed first hand .

    Souray and other very good veterans must be fed up and for good reason . We expected far to much of our players , drove their values down , and bad mouth most of them leaving here . Now , who outside our club wants to come into an environment like that i ask

    Unlike Ottawa fans that wanted a kings ransom for a talent like Heatley , most Oilers fans want to rid themselves of a very good talent like Souray for literally peanuts . If we had a half decent club to begin with, that was not so critically physically challenged ,Souray could have blossommed here instead of being in the infirmary a good portion of time like most other veterans . Somehow they expected very good men, not only to play their games well, but also pick up the slack and voids left by people like Laracque and Booguart type players .

  • SLURVE

    Seguin has to be the first pick. You have so many talented wingers and the old question still remains, “we need an elite centerman to make plays and great passes to these wingers” Don’t tell Boston that. Tell the opposite, we want Hall and make a deal for Seguin.