How can the Oilers not pick Hall?

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:49 PM ET

EDMONTON - If Taylor Hall wins a second straight Memorial Cup and becomes the first player in history to be named MVP twice, will that make it virtually impossible for the Edmonton Oilers to not make him the No. 1 pick in the draft?

Even if they really truly believe Tyler Seguin is going to be better long term?

At some point does scouting and projecting and everything else have to take a back seat to three obvious points?

1. Taylor Hall is a winner. Winners are currently in short supply around here.

2. Taylor Hall has character. Players with character are not exactly numerous in the Oilers organization.

3. Taylor Hall goes to the net and the tough areas of ice. Players who go to the net and tough areas of the ice are few and far between in Edmonton.

Itís impossible for most fans to have an opinion on who the Oilers should pick because most havenít seen Seguin play. But with the World Junior and the Memorial Cup, theyíve seen Hall play plenty.

And what have they seen?

Hall comes up big in big games. Heís hungry. He wants it. He has true grit in his game. And plays it with flash and panache.

If he does that one more time in the Memorial Cup final Sunday in Brandon, how can the Oilers not pick him?

Now maybe Seguin truly is the best prospect as projected by Central Scouting. But with what youíve seen, hasnít Hall essentially become the bird in hand and Seguin the bird in the bush?

Scouts say Hall is the safe pick because you know exactly what you are going to get from him.

Maybe this is it. Maybe he doesnít get much better than this.

Maybe Seguin gets a lot better. But the operative words there are maybe.

What you are going to get, with Taylor Hall, to most Oiler fans, as was the case at the World Junior, looks pretty damn good this week at the Memorial Cup.

Part of the problem here is that itís the Oilers who are picking. They just fired their top man over the past decade from the amateur scouting side in Kevin Prendergast without one iota of controversy. And who knows what the entire scouting department will look like after the draft.

GM Steve Tambellini appeared to telegraph major change beyond the removal of Prendegast when he sacked the trainer and equipment men.

ďThings have been in place here for a long time and weíre going to change the culture of this team, in the dressing room, in player development and the way we do our scouting,Ē he said.

The point is that thereís a lack of confidence all around going back to the draft here when the fans chanted Shane Doanís name and the Oilers didnít go with the obvious and picked Steve Kelly instead. And nobody has managed to forget Jason Bonsignore, the Oilers highest positioned draft pick/biggest bust in history.

Thatís ancient history? History repeats.

To pick Seguin, especially when it appears the majority of the teams (but by no means all of them) have Hall ranked No. 1, gets harder to do by the day. Even if Seguin is absolutely the right pick.

Even if you are convinced Seguin is going to grow into a better player than Hall, it seems obvious that thereís going to be more of a wait with him.

Right now, this week, itís hard to ignore that Hall is the lead dog on a Windsor team one win away from a second straight Memorial Cup with Hall already positioned to be MVP, again, if that happens.

Seguin, who went away quietly in a series against Windsor in the second round, may be the perfect player for the Oilers, who havenít had a real No. 1 centre in ages. He may prove to be, three or four years from now and for the rest of his career, the best player of the two.

But right now, watching the Memorial Cup, Taylor Hall is making it very difficult for the Edmonton Oilers to pick anybody other than Taylor Hall.

If they pick Hall, the headline will have an exclamation mark. If they pick Seguin, the headline will have a question mark.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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