Oilers Strike Gold: Selecting Taylor Hall No.1 Overall in the NHL Draft

Thomas ConroyCorrespondent IJuly 8, 2010

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)
Harry How/Getty Images

After winning the lottery for the No. 1 pick in this year’s NHL Draft, Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini’s mood went from rejoice to deep thought. He became firmly entrenched in the Taylor Hall vs. Tyler Sequin dilemma, as he had to choose between the two talented players.

What a tough decision, both are projected to become franchise players and their impact in hockey should be felt for many years down the line. In the end, Tambellini felt he came away with the best player (Hall) available in the draft.

The Oilers selection simply came down to the fact that Hall is more NHL-ready than Sequin at this time, and should make a solid contribution next season. His birthday falls on Nov. 14 and that ruled him ineligible for last year’s draft. This allowed Hall to play a third season at the major junior hockey level, and this greatly honed his skills that will allow him to make an immediate impact at the next level.

And performing at the next level has always been in Hall’s vocabulary. In his first season in the OHL, he was the leading goal scorer for the Windsor Spitfires with 45 goals and that earned him rookie-of-the-year honors. The following season, Hall led the Spitfires to a championship, as he was named the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award winner (OHL Playoff MVP), and his numbers were very impressive as he scored 16 goals and 36 points in 20 playoff games.

Most scouts feel that his on-ice speed is already NHL quality, as they often compare him to Pavel Bure because of his explosiveness heading into the offensive zone. Hall also shows some grit around the net, as he uses his body well to protect the puck. You’ll never see him hanging at the blue line waiting for a pass before heading towards the crease.

The entire Edmonton front office has come to an agreement that developing talent from within the organization and not pursuing high-priced free agents this summer is the best course to improve the team. Tambellini wants 3G players on his roster: guys with grit and guts going towards the net.

The Oilers need to improve the backline while waiting for their young, talented forwards to develop. They ranked near the bottom in all of the defensive categories (penalty killing, shots-against, and goals-against) last season.

Tambellini needs to acquire a defenseman who can block shots and shutdown the opponent’s top line on a nightly basis. He must also figure out if their defensive problems are attributed to a lack of experience in between the pipes, and if acquiring a veteran net-minder will solve their problems.

As an organization, the Oilers have given hope to their fan base for next season. Hall is a power skater who plays both ends of the rink and loves to use his size advantage on the ice. As for Tambellini, the hockey season isn’t over; it has only just begun.


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