Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall?
Still undecided. That was the answer from the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.
"We will make the final decision on the morning of the 25th [Friday]," Oilers GM Steve Tambellini told ESPN.com.
The Oilers, of course, hold the first overall pick in Friday's first round of the draft. The Boston Bruins, who hold the second overall pick, will also need to make a decision come Friday. Is it worth getting the player they want and enticing the Oilers accordingly with a trade, or can the Bruins live with the fact they're getting a franchise player either way?
"I can live with either player, I like them both a lot,'' Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told ESPN.com.
The cat-and-mouse game between the Oilers and Bruins will continue up to the 11th hour until both teams make their final decisions. Deal or no deal? Chiarelli and Tambellini spoke yet again over the weekend and it won't be the last time before Friday night.
"I would think I will have another discussion with him," Chiarelli told ESPN.com. "I think he's in the same boat as me as far as liking them both a lot. It's been well documented that they need a center and we need a wing, but I don't think that is that important. They're both tremendously talented players. If we get Seguin, we could put him on the wing. A player creative like he is, he can easily play both positions."
Seguin or Hall? Oilers or Bruins? We'll know Friday.
Elsewhere on Monday:
• When Jason Arnott ($4.5 million salary) was shipped to New Jersey and the rights to Dan Hamhuis (UFA July 1) were sent to Philadelphia over the weekend, both moves could have easily been perceived by many as another salary dump. But Nashville Predators GM David Poile is in fact in the market to add some offensive talent.
"I would like to look at trade possibilities this week at the draft," Poile told ESPN.com on Monday. "We would also look at July 1. I like a lot of things about our club, but one thing that we're missing -- and it doesn't help when you trade a player like Jason -- is that we need some goals. It's an area where we can get better."
Having said that, the money-conscious Preds aren't going to go crazy, either. And while Poile would not discuss specific names, you can forget a player like Jason Spezza (five years left on his deal and $7 million cap hit).
"I'm not really eager to get into a five- or six-year commitment with a player," Poile said, speaking generally. "But if there's the right player at the right price at the right length of term, I would be interested in that. I'm going to be open-minded, but I'm also going to be a little cautious."
• I quoted Panthers GM Dale Tallon in this morning's blog regarding his hope of being very active this week on the trade front. While he declined to discuss specific names, it's clear from other sources that No. 1 center Nathan Horton is in play.
"There's a very good chance he'll be dealt between now and Friday night," Horton's agent, Paul Krepelka of the Orr Hockey Group, told us Monday. "I think there's enough teams interested in him."
Horton, who just turned 25, could benefit from a fresh start. I still think this guy can bring it, but after playing under five different coaches and five different GMs in a nonhockey market, he could use a change of pace to get him going. He is signed for three more years, and while his cap number is a decent $4 million per year, his actual salary goes from $4 million next season to $4.5 million in 2011-12 and $5.5 million in 2012-13.
• Another top center on the trade market (sort of) is the aforementioned Spezza. Senators GM Bryan Murray met with local media Monday in Ottawa and confirmed that Spezza informed him in player exit meetings that he wouldn't be against a move, albeit falling short of demanding a trade a year after Dany Heatley did just that.
"He said he wouldn't object to it," Murray told a group of Ottawa media. "He didn't come out and say, 'I have to be traded.'"
Murray said he told Spezza, "'You signed a long-term contract. We have committed to you and you have committed to us. We will look at everything that will help us, but we're not going to make a bad trade.'"
Spezza's no-trade clause kicks in July 1, but if he's willing to move anyway, that's not the end of the world. What's more pertinent is he has five years left on his deal which pays him $8 million per season for the next three years and then $5 million and $4 million, respectively, in the last two seasons. His annual cap hit is $7 million.
The Sens GM also announced Monday what pretty much has become a foregone conclusion: Defenseman Anton Volchenkov, UFA July 1, is headed to the market.
• While Chiarelli declined comment Monday, other NHL sources told ESPN.com the trade market is heating up for goalie Tim Thomas. Once Montreal moved Jaroslav Halak last Thursday, the Bruins began to field calls from other interested suitors.
Thomas has three more years left on his deal at a $5 million cap hit and also has a no-trade clause. But faced with being the backup to Tuukka Rask in Boston, Thomas is apparently willing to waive his no-trade if it means getting a No. 1 job elsewhere.
• Contract talks between the Penguins and potential UFA blueliner Sergei Gonchar continued Monday after picking up steam over the weekend. I'm told they were at a "sensitive" stage.