Prospects doing some recon of their own
CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
|NHL top prospects (from left) Cam Fowler, Taylor Hall, Brett Connolly, Tyler Seguin and Erik Gudbranson attend Chicago's game day skate in Philadelphia, June 4, 2010. (Alex Urosevic/QMI Agency)
PHILADELPHIA - As a kid growing up in Calgary, Taylor Hall was a Flames fan.
But, he was quick to point out Friday, that does not make him an Edmonton Oilers hater.
“I know what you guys are going to ask, but I’m not a huge Flames fan anymore,” said Hall, the Windsor Spitfires winger who is neck-and-neck with centre Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL to be the first pick overall at the NHL draft in Los Angeles June 25-26.
The pick is owned by the Oilers.
“I didn’t hate the Oilers at all,” said Hall. “I love the game of hockey. I’m telling you the honest truth.”
Hall, Seguin, right winger Brett Connolly of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, defenceman Erik Gudbranson of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs and defenceman Cam Fowler of the Spitfires were on hand Friday at the Wachovia Center to meet with the media and tape a segment for Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada.
Seguin is the top-ranked North American skater by the NHL’s central scouting bureau while Hall, the son of former CFLer Steve Hall (that’s how he ended up in Calgary), is second.
With the Boston Bruins owning the second pick in the draft - thanks to the deal that sent Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs - Seguin and Hall face the potential of going into two very different situations.
The Oilers are trying to work their way up and the Bruins are already a playoff team.
“Both are really good situations,” said Hall. “Edmonton has a lot of young guys and is rebuilding. There’s a chance to step in there and have an immediate impact. You look at the top teams in the NHL, Washington, Pittsbrugh, Chicago, they started at the bottom and got some top players at the draft. Hopefully, I can be one of those guys. Boston contends for the playoffs every year.
“You look at both teams, they’re different situations and I’d be happy to be in either situation. I’d be happy to play for either team.”
Seguin sees the two challenges, as well.
“I want to help turn a team around (if it’s Edmonton) and if you go to Boston, you could win the Stanley Cup in your first year,” he said.
Hall is off to Boston Saturday for more interviews and testing by the Bruins and will be in Edmonton June 10.
Seguin will also have more testing with both clubs.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said there has been some talk with the Oilers about swapping picks, but both teams have to decide what is the value of the difference between Hall and Seguin.
“You can never really decipher what’s true and not true,” said Hall.
Part of the Friday was spent visiting with players from the Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks aa they prepared for Game 4 of the final.
Gudbranson, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound defenceman from Ottawa, got a chance to meet Flyers towering defenceman Chris Pronger.
“He’s a big guy, very big,” said Gudbranson, the fourth-ranked North American skater by the NHL. “A lot of people say I’m big but he’s massive.”
Hall came away impressed with the haircut being worn by Chicago’s Patrick Kane.
“That’s an awesome mullet. I got to give him credit,” Hall said. “He’s got to have some serious skin to do that.”