TAYLOR HALL: JUST TOO GOOD TO PASS UP

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Taylor Hall, drafted first overall by the Edmonton Oilers, poses for a portrait during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — How can any team say no to a two-time Memorial Cup MVP, a player who dominated the OHL playoffs and a prospect most NHL scouts and scouting services considered the best major junior player on the planet last season?

The bottom line is you can’t, and the Edmonton Oilers didn’t at the Staples Center Friday, making Windsor Spitfires star Taylor Hall their first-ever, first overall pick in franchise history.

"He’s such an impressive young man," Oilers GM Tambellini said. "I don’t think I’ve met a more focused, competitive athlete in a long time. His compete level is off the charts.

"He’s one of those players that, if the game is at 10, he’s a 12. He just always seemed to be able to rise above whatever was happening at an important time.

"To see that quality . . . I know he was on a good team, but he was the best player on a good team for a long time. Back-to-back MVPs on that type of stage. That’s so impressive to me."

THE GREAT DEBATE

While fans, and Stu MacGregor’s scouting staff, debated the merits of Hall and Plymouth Whalers centre Tyler Seguin — passionate differences of opinion played out on hockey websites like Oilersnation and behind closed doors over several months, it became clear in recent weeks that the dynamic Windsor left-winger was the only way to go.

In the end — after Edmonton’s scouting staff met in the Okanagan a few weeks ago and each member stepped forward to have his say and make his case — the tide turned to Hall and stayed that way until his name was called by Tambellini.

"Our final discussion was today," Tambellini said. "It was a wonderful moment. We had our entire organization in there from hockey operations. Stu articulated his position, which was wonderful.

"I don’t know if it’s relief. The build-up and anticipation from our staff . . . I know Edmonton, the city itself, couldn’t wait. I can tell you also that the staff was dying to make the selection, too."

MacGregor, to name just one member of Edmonton’s scouting staff, was leaning toward Seguin before Hall and the Spitfires began their march to the Memorial Cup.

CLARITY COMES

"I came to the conclusion about three weeks ago that it was Taylor," said MacGregor. "I felt very comfortable with that . . . all the information came together and it was really comfortable for me. Our staff was strong on Taylor. I hadn’t told any of the guys where I stood, then I laid it out today.

"I had the pleasure of being able to watch Seguin a number of times during the season when he was a dynamic player. I’m not at all knocking Tyler Seguin. He’s a tremendous talent and he’ll be a tremendous player in the NHL. He’s a fine young man.

"There were lots of times during the year that I was on Tyler Seguin’s side in this process."

Day-by-day and game-by-game, the evidence in Hall’s favour mounted and it became clear the six-foot-one, 185-pound Calgarian — how’s that for irony? — had to be the player at the front of the line, the face of the franchise, in Edmonton’s attempt to rebuild.

"We’d like to think it’s our one time to shine," said president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe. "Hopefully, it’s our only time."

KEY TO THE CITY

Hall and Seguin, as everybody knows, both visited Edmonton earlier in June. By then, with Tambellini and his staff playing poker-face, the decision as to who would get a return ticket to town had been made — despite claims to the contrary in recent days.

"They (scouting staff) were comfortable with Taylor and I had become very, very comfortable with Taylor, too," MacGregor said. "I felt really good about it.

"Taylor just plays so hard. He gives you something we haven’t had in so long — that absolute passion and drive. Everybody is dying to have a player like that, and now we have one.

"He’s just a guy who rises up. He wants to win. He wants to win a Stanley Cup. He’s the first guy out of all those high-ranked players who talked about winning a Stanley Cup right from the get-go.

"He talks about team. He talks about having success. He talks about not being worried about stepping up, about helping change our franchise, about how excited his is to come to the organization."

In the end, there is no arguing with the selection of Hall. Even those who at one point thought Seguin was the better choice have to admit that.

"This is a great step for us," Tambellini said. "A wonderful step just to see the passion Taylor has. It’s incredible."

Tough to argue that.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Look Nate Full of Hate

    scouts have Seguin projected to be better in 5-6 years. Key word “projected”. The Oilers have gambled a lot in the past and this time decided to take a player whos’ skills are already fairly refined in Taylor Hall. Let’s be honest the Oilers couldn’t realy make any mistakes by taking either kid because of all the needs they require on this club. They need a kid like Hall, with his never quit attitude and high skill goal scoring, and they do still need a center but it doesn’t all have to be at once. There is still a draft next season, it happens every year. Boone Jenner is already projected to be a high draft prospect and is bigger than Seguin at 6’1 193 and is also a high skill playmaker. Given the Oilers still aren’t that good of a squad the likelihood of another top ten pick is likely.

    Hall is the better player today, and the future is always up in the air and scouts aren’t always right, especially the NHL Central Scouting.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Will somebody please turn that friggen Nate off.

    Taylor Hall WILL be playing center for the Oilers.

    This bring the total number of centers in the top ten to five dipship!

  • tie game, 1minute to go, faceoff in your zone…

    Horcoff, Gagner, Vs

    Toews, Sharp
    Datsyuk,Zetterberg,
    Thornton,Pavelski
    Sedin,Kessler
    Stastny, Duchene
    Kopitar,
    Getzlaf

    See where I’m going??? Notice the teams with players not on this list from the West? It’s because they won’t A. Make the playoffs B.contend

    • Rogue

      What are you doing later? Can you fly down to L.A and do a better job please? You probably just missed your one chance to make the big show, but you’re smarter than everyone, and bitter about it, hey? Here’s your chance!

    • Travis Dakin

      Go back and watch the ’06 playoffs and tell me again how Horcoff did against Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Thornton, Getzlaf, Marleau etc..

      When he is healthy and playing with a good team, he scores and shuts down. Fact. And if the faceoff is in my zone? I’ll take Horcoff ANY DAY to take that draw.

      Congratulations. You’ve now taken over the title of most annoying commenter EVER on the Nation.

        • Travis Dakin

          So…. There can only be one “best” right?

          Wayne Gretzky was the best and he didn’t win every year.

          Gagner will be in his 4th season this year and he is just going to turn 21. You think he is topped out?

          Believe me man, I was one of the biggest supporters of the Oilers taking Seguin but they didn’t. Hall is awesome and will compliment Hemsky, Penner, Gagner, MPS, Eberle, Brule, Horcoff and others VERY well. You need to go rub one out and release some of that Hate that you are full of. Then you can be Nate Feeling Good. Things are looking up around here.

        • Travis Dakin

          No, the reason the Canes won is that they had 3 lines that could score while the Oilers only had two. You saw the same thing in the playoffs again this year. If the Oil would have had a 2nd line that was reliable then the Cup would have come back to Edmonton instead in 2006.

          The biggest knock on Seguin in my books is the fact that he is seen as a “perimeter” type playmaker, which was evident in how easily he was shut down in the playoff series against Hall. Time will tell, but I think that in the end the best centreman in the draft will end up being that Johansen kid that Columbus landed. Don’t get me wrong, Seguin will likely turn out to be a great playmaking centre that can score as well, but I was hoping that Tambi would be able to grab Johansen as well. Based on some of the comments from scouts that I read pre-draft, the kid has huge upside and once he fills out he will be a beast to contain. Howson made a great pick – if you team him up with Nash then you will have two 6’3″+ forwards on your top line. Just add another big winger on the other side, and that will be one tough package to handle.

        • treblecharger

          That’s funny, i don’t see his name anywhere on the Conn Smythe trophy. Eric friggin Staal didn’t win the Stanley Cup for them, the Oilers lost the Cup when Roloson went down in game one. There wouldn’t have been a game seven…Oilers would have finished of the Hurricanes here in Edmonton in game six.

          Anything else Nate full of b/s?

          • treblecharger

            Woulda and coulda …blah blah injuries happen.

            Conn Smythe= entire playoffs not final series.

            Staal was Carolina’s best player in the final series…

            And Pronger “SHOULDA” won the Conn Smythe regardless…

    • treblecharger

      It seems to me like the Oilers want to groom Hall into a #1 C. As previously mentioned our centers did a pretty damn good job against the likes of Thornton Datsyuk Zetterberg etc. We’ll be fine bud, don’t worry. We’re not in a position to contend for the cup with our current roster anways, by the time we get to that point we’ll have more options in the middle.

      Negative Nancy jeeeez.

  • MrCondor

    I was pulling for Seguin, but no one can be upset at the result. It’s like going to a bar wanting a Steam Whistle, but they only have Keiths on tap.

    It’s great to hear that Stu and Steve had their minds made up weeks ago. Puts me more at ease

  • Colin

    It smells like meddling owner to me. We hear Seguin up to the draft (via Mr. Brownlee) and then out of nowhere, bammo they select Hall.

    Of course pulling a Wang and going on stage with your kid is also a symptom of the wack-job meddling owner.

    Regardless I think the centre was the better choice (5 top 6 wingers) but Hall will be pretty good so its hard to be terribly upset.

    • treblecharger

      7 in Edmonton…8+ for the Bruins?

      Wears 4
      Agent Orr
      Shows up to L.A in RedSox gear

      Regehr gets 3 cracks at him in the 1st month!

      At least Hemsky won’t be the only target now..