Taylor vs. Tyler

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:38 PM ET

Taylor vs. Tyler has been the story all season.

Now, for the Edmonton Oilers, it’s the story, the whole story and nothing but the story.

The Oilers have “clinched” last place.

It became a mathematical certainty Tuesday that the Oilers would finish 30th in the 30-team NHL, and thus be guaranteed Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin — virtual locks to go either No. 1 or No. 2 in the NHL draft.

The timing of the Oilers securing of last place is perfect.

The Oilers were in Detroit last night meaning anybody involved with the organization need only cross the river and begin the final examination of the two.

Starting Thursday night in Windsor and then alternating back and forth across the border to Plymouth, Mich., Hall’s Spitfires meet Seguin’s Whalers in a second round Ontario Hockey League playoff series.

GM Steve Tambellini will abandon the big club as they mop up the season with games in Dallas and Phoenix to be in Windsor Thursday and Plymouth Saturday. And just about anybody who is anybody in the Oilers organization will be rotated through the series for a look.

“Our guys have been tracking all the top picks, but this is a unique situation,” said Tambellini.

Head scout Stu MacGregor just watched them both in their first round series.

“We’ll have scouts coming in and out. You want everyone to have a chance to see them go head to head. It’s the kind of matchup you really look forward to. For our amateur scouting department it’s a wonderful opportunity. It should be good. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Between Game 3 and Game 4 of the series, on April 7, the NHL Central Scouting Bureau will reveal its final list. And then, on April 13, the NHL lottery will be held to determine which of the bottom five teams wins the first pick with the Oilers’ odds at 48.2% and the comforting fact that the worse they could end up is selecting second.

There are those in hockey who think the Oilers might not be crushed if they end up with the second pick because that would take the oh-my-god-we-picked-the-wrong-player factor out of their hands.

This, remember, is the same organization which played host to the 1989 draft in Edmonton and with fans chanting the name of Shane Doan went and picked Steve Kelly instead. The same organization which until now hadn’t picked higher than fourth and wasted that one on Jason Bonsignore.

There’s not much, from all indications, to pick between Seguin and Hall. In fact, word out of the Central Scouting meetings this past weekend is that the debate on Tyler vs Taylor was lengthy.

“I don’t think, since I’ve been a part of Central Scouting, have I seen two guys as close as Hall and Seguin,” scout Al Jensen was quoted as saying by NHL.com.

The two finished tied in the OHL scoring stats with 106 points, although Hall played fewer games due to the World Junior in Saskatoon and gave up a chance to win the scoring title outright by sitting out the last two games to prepare for the playoffs. Both had 10-point first round series (Hall with six goals in a four-game sweep and Seguin with five in a five game series).

How significant the stats are is open to some debate as Hall plays with more talented linemates on a better team.

Their overall junior stats are also open to debate.

Hall has 123 goals and 280 points in 183 regular season games over three seasons while Seguin has 69 goals and 173 points in 124 games over two years. Hall's stats are consistent — 84, 90 and 106 points.

Seguin had 67 last year and 106 this year. To some, that suggests Hall is the safer pick in that you know what you are getting, but to others it says Seguin is earlier in his development, indicating his upside may be higher.

Hall has the appeal of being a Mark Messier style of player and the Oilers haven’t had one of those since, oh, Mark Messier. He’s come up big in the big games, being the Memorial Cup MVP last year (scoring the winner in overtime in the final) and was a three-point player for Canada in the final of the World Junior in Saskatoon.

On the other hand, Hall is a left winger and Seguin is a centre with more size, although he plays a softer game. The Oilers are a team with donut lines (no centres) not one with helicopter lines (no wingers).

The Oilers haven’t had a real No. 1 centre throughout most of the new millennium.

To some, the choice is between picking Patrick Kane on the wing or Jonathan Toews at centre.

“Any team which gets either one of these players is going to be lucky. They are both solid people and solid hockey players,” said Tambellini.

“No decision is going to be made until our final meeting,” he added.

Certainly not until after the Tyler vs. Taylor Show they’re about to watch.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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