Oilers and Bruins hit lottery jackpot
The Boston Bruins didn't win the draft lottery Tuesday night, but they may still get the player they want when all is said and done June 25 in Los Angeles.
That's if, and I stress if, the Edmonton Oilers draft by need.
Tyler Seguin is a center. Taylor Hall is a winger.
The Oilers, who won the No. 1 overall pick, need a lot of things, but nothing more so than a bona-fide stud down the middle, one who could play between first-line wingers Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner. Enter Seguin.
The Bruins, who have the No. 2 selection, are set at center with Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, but are seriously lacking when it comes to big-time offensive talent on the wing. Enter Hall.
Unless, of course, the Oilers' scouting staff and GM Steve Tambellini ultimately conclude Hall is simply the better player and can't pass him up. That could very well happen.
"I think first, you have to be careful about drafting for your current status, you have to be careful about drafting for your current needs," Tambellini told ESPN.com on Tuesday night before hopping on a Toronto-to-Edmonton flight. "When I meet with our staff, I want to hear about who is the best player now and who is the player that is projected to be the best."
So if the Oilers believe Hall is better, they'll take him. But if they think it's a dead heat between the two kids, they'll likely take Seguin with the added bonus that he plays center. We'll see.
NHL Central Scouting rated Seguin ahead of Hall in its final rankings, but both ESPN.com's Gare Joyce and TSN's Bob McKenzie have Hall over Seguin.
Fact is, the universal belief in scout land is it's really a flip of a coin. I asked Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli on Tuesday night where he stood on Hall and Seguin.
"I myself have a preference, but I know talking to our [scouting] staff, they flip-flop, they're undecided," Chiarelli said during a media conference call. "They are so close that I'd be very, very content with the other one depending on who Edmonton picked. I'm excited that we're in this slot. I'd be very excited to get either one of these players."
What's clear is it's Hall/Seguin at the top, and then everybody else. Boston didn't move down in the lottery Tuesday night, so it doesn't have to worry about everybody else.
"We're going to get Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin, who are both very good, impactful offensive forwards," said Chiarelli.
If the Oilers take Hall and the Bruins are left with Seguin, that's no big loss. If it's another center, so be it, especially someone of the quality Seguin is projected to have.
"He can play all three forward positions," pointed out Chiarelli. "He's a natural center, but he's skilled enough and fast enough to play both wings."
How good is Seguin?
"He's got dynamic speed and playmaking ability," said the Bruins GM. "I've said before that he's a cross between a [Steven] Stamkos and a [Pat] LaFontaine. I understand that's pretty lofty company, but he's a terrific young offensive player."
Hall has been a terror in this spring's OHL playoffs, scoring nine goals in eight games.
"Taylor Hall is bigger and heavier, he plays a more prototypical power forward type of game," said Chiarelli. "He has a good one-timer. He really likes to drive the net. He really protects the puck well. Seguin is probably a little quicker, but Hall is a very powerful skater. He's a natural winger who can play both sides."
So, either way, the Bruins cash in big-time on a trade that was really forced on them last summer, when Phil Kessel was dealt to Toronto for a pair of first-round picks (2010 and 2011) and a second-rounder (2010).
If you're a Leafs fan, Tuesday's lottery was obviously tough to stomach. If I was a Leafs fan, I could live with Kessel in exchange for Seguin or Hall straight up. All three will have dynamic careers. What's tough to digest is if the Bruins get yet another lottery pick a year from now. There's enormous pressure on Toronto GM Brian Burke to ensure his team won't be in this spot again next season.
Does Burke regret the trade? Nope.
"I would do it again tomorrow," Burke told ESPN.com on Thursday. Believe me when I say he really means that.
Burke will be reminded of the trade again June 25 at Staples Center, when Hall or Seguin puts on a Bruins jersey. Unless, of course, Boston trades that valuable pick.
"In all likelihood I won't be trading this pick," said Chiarelli.
Chiarelli has the easy job come draft day: Pick the player Edmonton passed over. But the Oilers were thrilled to get the first pick. They'll deal with the pressure of deciding which player they want.
"People ask me if it would be better to get the second pick [to take the decision out of it]. My answer is no chance," said Tambellini. "You want to be able to control that decision going into the draft. We're thrilled."