|ESPN.com: NHL||[Print without images]|
General manager Peter Chiarelli continued Monday to play his hand close to the vest when it comes to whether he prefers Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin -- the top two prospects in this week's NHL draft -- one of which will fall to the Boston Bruins at No. 2 overall.
"I would say, right now as of today, we have one guy over the other," Chiarelli said during a conference call with reporters. "It's very, very close."
Of course, Chiarelli isn't guaranteed to get his preference because the Edmonton Oilers own the first overall pick.
Chiarelli and Oilers GM Steve Tambellini spoke over the weekend, Chiarelli said, the discussion based in general terms and neither GM giving anything away.
There has been chatter ever since the draft lottery in April that Chiarelli would attempt to package his No. 2 selection along with other prospects to the Oilers for the right to pick first. As of Monday afternoon, it appears things will remain where they are, but that doesn't mean the sides can't work something out before Day 1 of the draft on Friday in Los Angeles.
"After speaking with Steve, I think he's probably as close, or he has these two guys as close as we do," Chiarelli said. "Neither of us is committed to moving forward on that type of discussion. I would think that we're going to talk again at some point, but right now if the draft was tonight, I'd say there would be no deal."
Tambellini was just as close-lipped as Chiarelli about who he was leaning toward selecting with his top pick.
"We will make the final decision on the morning of the 25th [Friday]," Tambellini told ESPN.com on Monday.Hall and Seguin, who tied for the Ontario Hockey League scoring lead, are the consensus top two picks in the draft, but there's little to separate them. Seguin was the league MVP; Hall is the only player in the 92-year history of the Memorial Cup to win the tournament MVP in back-to-back years. The Bruins are believed to covet Hall, a left wing who is represented by Boston legend Bobby Orr and would love to follow in his agent's footsteps. They would consider giving Edmonton something in exchange for allowing Hall to slip to second, but neither team will admit to a strong enough preference for them to agree on a price.
Overall, the Bruins have four picks in the top 45 of the NHL draft, including Nos. 2, 15, 32 and 45.
Even though Chiarelli wouldn't fully commit on the top two spots, the Bruins' GM did say he's interested in moving the organization's No. 15 overall pick.
"That would be of interest to us," he said. "Again, it's hard to move up right now as far as being a week away from the draft. I've had a lot of concepts thrown at me, as far as moving up and moving down, and that's the normal course. Nothing is imminent. There's no pressure. There's no reason to talk in detail right now."
Chiarelli believes teams will be making deals prior to Friday's draft because the free-agent market is thin this offseason.
"I've noticed there is significantly more talk last week than I'm used to in my years in management," he said. "There's more activity. It may be you don't get these draft-day blockbuster deals, but I think you're going to see more deals this week."
With solid prospects already in place and plenty of draft picks this year and next thanks to the trade that sent Phil Kessel to Toronto, Chiarelli understands he has an opportunity to build a foundation for the future.
"We're going to have a real solid foundation of players moving forward in our pipeline," Chiarelli said. "It also gives us the options of knowing we have four picks in the first two rounds next year, and it also gives us the option to look at trades. We want to improve our team now and we want to improve our team in the short-term and long-term. It gives us a lot of flexibility."
Chiarelli added that if he does decide to trade picks 15, 32 or 45, he would make sure the Bruins ended up with a good player.
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.