Going all-in: the Oilers should draft Taylor Hall

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 04: NHL top prospect Taylor Hall visits the Philadelphia Flyers locker game before Game Four of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Wachovia Center on June 4, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — If the Edmonton Oilers covet Tyler Seguin and want the Boston Bruins to pay for the right to get Taylor Hall, there’s only one thing for GM Steve Tambellini to do at the Staples Center Friday.

Tambellini has to step to the podium and announce, "With the first pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers are proud to select from the Windsor Spitfires, Taylor Hall."

If Tambellini wants Seguin and is certain the Bruins want Hall, forget about reading between the lines and playing footsy to see what poker-faced Boston GM Peter Chiarelli is willing to offer to have the Oilers pass on Hall with the No. 1 pick. Walk to the podium and take Hall.

Then, Tambellini should sashay over to Boston’s table and ask Chiarelli who he is willing to part with along with the No. 2 pick to get Hall in a trade, once he’s finished blowing snot bubbles.

If Chiarelli has been bluffing that he’d be just as happy with Seguin as Hall, he is likelier to pay a steeper price to get him after Hall pulls on an Oilers jersey than in a gentlemen’s agreement ahead of time to have the Oilers pass on him.

If Chiarelli has been telling it straight, and he tells Tambellini to get stuffed and then takes the talented Plymouth Whalers centre, what is the downside for the Oilers and Tambellini? They get Hall.

That’s the Entry Draft version of all in.


Chiarelli and Tambellini have been playing poker-face for weeks now, neither of them showing their cards in terms of stating a preference for Seguin or Hall. That’s to be expected.

"It is different," Chiarelli said during a conference call on Monday. "Generally I would characterize it as, we both don’t want to lay any cards to each other right now.

"I genuinely believe Steve is of the same opinion on these players as we are. They’re very close. I know we’re both very non-committal."

Not to be outdone, Tambellini didn’t dish anything when he met with reporters Tuesday, minutes after Chiarelli traded the 15th pick to Florida in the Nathan Horton deal.

"They’re both great players, great kids and great people," Tambellini gushed. "I’m being vague for a reason here. Is there an argument or a push for one or the other?

"I can tell you, the discussion (among the scouting staff) was incredible. Of course there’s going to be people talking about Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall and their strengths and weaknesses and projections. I expected that. I wanted that.

"At the end of the day, I know we’ll walk out on June 25 and be totally focused and excited and on-board with one decision."

All the smoke-blowing aside, I believe the Oilers want Seguin and the Bruins want Hall. Still, it makes no sense for Tambellini to declare as much, which he hasn’t, because that would minimize anything he might get out of Chiarelli for passing on Hall.

Likewise, why would Chiarelli admit he covets Hall and give Tambellini leverage? Not smart. So, here were, with both of them fingering their chips and staring across the table at each other.


Tambellini and Chiarelli have talked, and both have been taking calls from other GMs inquiring what it might take to get their picks. That’s business as usual for GMs holding the best hands.

For all the talk until now, the glad-handing, schmoozing and positioning starts in earnest today as teams and their hockey departments arrive in Tinseltown. "Meet me in the lobby." Call me at 9 p.m." "I’m in room 249. Stop by in an hour."

Having landed Horton and Gregory Campbell from Florida, Chiarelli may feel he’s bolstered his roster enough that the Bruins can contend for the Stanley Cup next season and that he need not entertain offers for No. 2, unless somebody gets stupid.

If that’s the case, and it wouldn’t surprise me, any slim chance Tambellini had of landing the second pick to go with his first by offering Chiarelli the opportunity to "win now" with a package of players has turned into no chance. That still leaves Seguin and Hall on the table.

The way I see it, the best way for Tambellini to call any bluff and squeeze something out of Chiarelli — if the Bruins really do want Hall and there is something to be had — is to call Hall’s name with the No. 1 pick and then take that stroll over to Boston’s table.

Tambellini holds all the cards. The problem is, I’m not convinced he’s packing enough brass to play them.

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