Taylor Hall Will Be Edmonton-Bound When Dance is Over
"Everyone wants me to name our choice," Tambellini told FanHouse on Thursday night in the lobby of the NHL's hotel headquarters for draft weekend. "You have to know by now we're not going to announce it until we're called to the podium."
Okay, Steve: does his name rhyme with "ball" or "pagan"?
That's when the affable general manager of the Edmonton Oilers politely changed the subject.
Tambellini and his scouting staff have had two options since Edmonton won the draft lottery in April. On Friday night on the draft floor of the Staples Center, they could officially begin the building of their franchise around Taylor Hall, the dynamic goal-scoring wing of the Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires. The Oilers could opt to draft a center in Tyler Seguin, the playmaker from the Plymouth Whalers. Once Seguin added goal scoring to his battery of talents -- he had 48 in the regular season -- the Taylor-Tyler debate has been all the rage with scouts, hockey reporters and the fans.
Although the NHL's Central Scouting Service tabbed Seguin No. 1, the consensus back in April was that Edmonton could not pass up the Canadian goal-scoring machine that is Hall. When his Windsor team beat Plymouth in the second round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs -- and Hall out-played Seguin -- the die was cast.
At a media availability for the 2010 draft's top prospects, Seguin was respectfully stating his case to be No. 1.
"First off, is my improvement level," said Seguin when asked why he should be No. 1. "Second, if you're going to go first overall to a market like Edmonton, you're going to be in the spotlight. You have to be able to handle the pressure. I came into this season not knowing what the pressure feels like, but I thought I adapted, handled it well and was still able to perform."
Heady, confident stuff from the 18-year old, who no doubt has given the Oilers plenty to think about.
"I've spent a lot of time with Taylor and Tyler," said Tambellini. "Our scouts have watched them play a ton. I've taken the time to get to know them. I've had dinner with both of them. They are outstanding young men. The teams that draft them will be very, very fortunate."
And then the Edmonton general manager was off to another meeting. Soon after 4:00 p.m. Los Angeles time on Friday, Tambellini and his scouts will announce their pick.
Seguin is going to what should be a mighty Boston Bruins team over the next few years. Hall will have the pressure of leading the historic Oilers franchise back to contention.
"Edmonton is very committed to a rebuild," said Hall. "I can handle the pressure."