Hall emerged as a dominant force in the junior ranks, leading Windsor to back-to-back Memorial Cups while taking MVP honours both times, becoming the first player to do so since the award was first handed out in 1972.
“It was pretty much unanimous, a slam dunk,” said Oilers President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe. “The other kid is a hell of a kid, too, and a hell of a player, but there didn’t seem to be any question we were going to take him.
“The kid loves the game, you can just tell in his eyes he looks like he was bred to be a hockey player.”
Some people might wonder why Edmonton didn’t draft the first line centre they need so badly, to which Lowe responded: maybe they did. Hall began his CHL career in the middle before moving to make room for centres who didn’t have the versatility to switch.
“He told us ‘It doesn’t matter where I play, but I’m telling you I can play centre,” said Lowe, adding Mark Messier, who could pass for Hall’s dad, wasn’t always a centre. “Mess started as a winger for a couple of years and moved to centre because he needed the puck more, he was bigger and stronger. So (moving Hall) is certainly an option.”
Hall worked most of his life to become No. 1 in the draft, but the first thing he pointed out is that Friday evening is actually the start, not the finish, of his journey.
“It was pretty important to me, but at the same time a lot of guys have gone No. 1, and they’ve played in the NHL, but they haven’t really exceeded expectations. I have a lot of work to do. I still have a team to make.”
He doesn’t want to just make it, he wants to lead it.
“I hope to be a dynamic offensive player who’s good in his own end, I like to play physical, I like to go into the corners and muck it up.”
He goes from No. 1 to No. 30 in a split second, joining a last-place team at the beginning of a major re-build - a position he’s not entirely unfamiliar with, having been part of the Windsor remake.
Asked if he’s nervous about expectations, about being perceived as a saviour in Edmonton, he said bring it on.
“There’s always expectations no matter what you do. Obviously, being a No. 1 pick, I have a job to do and I think I have the tools to do it. I have the confidence and the drive, that’s going to push me every day to be a better player.
“I think I can step in, There’s still a lot of work to be done on my game. I have to improve physically, but as soon as I get to an NHL camp and get used to the NHL style of play i think I can step in and make an impact.”
Click here to view the 2010 NHL draft chart
1. Edmonton Oilers - Taylor Hall, LW, Windsor: In a lot of circles he is the consensus No. 1. He scores big goals at big times and has been a winner at every level.
2. Boston Bruins - Tyler Seguin, C, Plymouth: Not only does he make the players around him better, he’s smart with the puck and helps create plays. He’s a can’t miss kid.
3. Florida Panthers - Erik Gudbranson, D, Kingston: Not only is he a solid player, he’s a solid citizen. He’s tough and has been compared to Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets - Ryan Johansen, C, Portland: His favourite player is Joe Thornton and he tries to pattern his game after him. Just needs to get stronger. He’ll play.
5. New York Islanders - Nino Niederreiter, LW, Portland: He made a difference for the Swiss at the world junior championships. He’s smart, skilled and used to the North American game.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning - Brett Connolly, LW, Prince George: Hurt because he only played 16 games after several injuries. He’s a smart player who isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty.
7. Carolina Hurricanes - Jeff Skinner, RW, OHL.
8. Atlanta Thrashers - Alexander Burmistrov, C, Barrie: While teams have a tough time taking a chance on Russians, he’s already playing in North America. His speed can kill.
9. Minnesota Wild - Mikael Granlund, C, Helsinki: Had 40 points in 43 games and was the top-ranked European skater. At 5-foot-10, he’s a small player with a big heart.
10. New York Rangers - Dylan Mcllrath, D, Moose Jaw: He isn’t afraid to get involved and had over 217 Pims in two seasons with Moose Jaw. This guy makes people pay the price.
11. Dallas Stars - Jack Campbell, G, USHL: He helped lead Team USA to a gold medal at the world junior championship. At 6-foot-3 he’s got good size and moves well.
12. Anaheim Ducks - Cam Fowler, D, Windsor: He had 55 points in 55 games this season with the Spitfires. He’s an offensive defenceman that can move the puck.
13. Phoenix Coyotes - Brandon Gormley, D, Moncton: Scouts call this guy the “whole package” because he’s got a good shot from the point and is sound defensively.
14. St. Louis Blues - Jaden Shwartz, C, USHL: He won the scoring title with 33-50-83 points in 60 games. He has the ability to hold onto the puck and will take chances.
15. Los Angeles Kings - Derek Forbort, D, USHL: A 6-foot-5 blueliner, teams love his size and his ability to play at both ends of the ice. He could have tremendous offensive potential.
16. St. Louis Blues - Vladamir Tarasenko, RW, Russia: He had 28 points in his second season in the KHL. He’s described by scouts as “a sniper” with a strong shot.
17. Colorado Avalanche - Joey Hishon, C, OHL.
18. Nashville Predators - Austin Watson, RW, Peterborough: He missed part of the second half after suffering a broken ankle, but is considered a highly-skilled offensive player.
19. Florida Panthers - Nick Bjustad, C, Minnesota H.S.: Scouts love the way this guy has shown maturity. He has an excellent shot, good smarts and just needs to get stronger.
20. Pittsburgh Penguins - Beau Bennett, RW, BCHL.
21. Detroit Red Wings - Riley Sheahan, C, Notre Dame: He just finished out his rookie year at the school with 17 points in 37 games. He’s not afraid to go to the front of the net.
22. Montreal Canadiens - Jarred Tinordi, D, USHL: The son of former NHLer Mark Tinordi has committed to play at Notre Dame next season. He has a heavy shot and good hands.
23. Buffalo Sabres - Mark Pysyk, D, Edmonton: His season was cut short by a broken foot, but had 24 points in 48 games. Pysyk is a smart player who doesn’t take chances.
24. Chicago Blackhawks - Kevin Hayes, RW, Nobles.
25. Florida Panthers - Quinton Howden, LW, Moose Jaw: The 6-foot-2 Howden has good speed with a tremendous ability to skate. He can play at both ends of the ice.
26. Washington Capitals - Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Russia.
27. Phoenix Coyotes - Mark Visentin, G, OHL.
28. San Jose Sharks - Charlie Coyle, C, EJHL: He played for South Shore last season and will attend Boston University. He could develop into a power forward with good skills.
29. Anaheim Ducks - Emerson Etem, C, Medicine Hat: In his rookie season in the WHL, he had 37 goals and 72 points. Scouts like his ability to skate and move the puck.
30. New York Islanders - Brock Nelson, C, USHL: The Minnesota resident will go to North Dakota next season. At 6-foot-2, scouts love his size and believe he’ll use his power.