Hall the natural first choice

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:24 PM ET

LOS ANGELES -- It was the only choice for Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini.

The Oilers had plenty of teams willing to take the No. 1 pick in Friday night’s NHL entry draft off their hands, but Tambellini made the right move by holding onto the selection to take Windsor winger Taylor Hall.

Sure, there has been plenty of debate over the Oilers decision to take either Hall or Plymouth centre Tyler Seguin, but talking to scouts from many teams they all had Hall ranked No. 1 on their list.

“He’s just such a smart player and I don’t know how they could have passed on Hall,” said one league executive. “The guy has won at every level, he has stepped up in big games. He’s a difference maker.”

The Oilers don’t want to depart from their game plan of rebuilding the organization. This was a big step in the right direction for Tambellini and the Oilers.

Now, they need to get it right on the ice.

OFF THE GLASS: There’s talk the Flames are interested in Ottawa C Jason Spezza. They are looking for a No. 1 centre and have been kicking tires around the league. The problem is the Flames don’t have the salary cap room to take on Spezza's contract, and they can’t offer what it takes in return. D Robin Regehr has been mentioned. He has a “no move” clause. It all sounds pretty doubtful ... After acquiring the rights to UFA D Dan Hamhuis from the Predators last week, the Flyers have traded his rights to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 3rd round pick next year.

AROUND THE BOARDS: Florida GM Dale Tallon remains open for business. The Panthers sent D Keith Ballard to Vancouver just before the draft started and it won’t stop there. Tallon wants to strip down the roster and start a complete rebuild. The Panthers have been offering around LW Rostislav Olesz but hasn’t been able to find any takers. With the exception of Stephen Weiss and a few of the forwards, everybody on Florida is available -- including G Tomas Vokoun. The Flyers need a goalie, they’ll study the possibility ... The Ducks aren’t actively pursuing a deal for RW Bobby Ryan, but they are calling around the league to see what kind of interest there is in the 23-year-old RFA ... The St. Louis Blues might want to get to work on signing RFA G Jarolslav Halak after acquiring him from the Montreal Canadiens. Somebody could still target him with an offer sheet.

THIS N’ THAT: The Sabres are trying to move C Tim Connolly and RW Drew Stafford this weekend. Not sure if there will be any takers on either front ... The Oilers are trying to move D Sheldon Souray, but don’t be surprised if they wait until after July 1. Right now, he can control his own destiny with a “no move” clause. After July 1, that clause is written out of his contract. There’s a strong belief he could be returned to the Devils ... The Penguins are likely going to lose D Sergei Gonchar to free agency. Talks between the two sides are going nowhere and he’ll likely test the market. Expect to see 15 teams make a pitch for Gonchar.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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