Standing just off set in a television studio in suburban Toronto, five NHL executives were awaiting their fate. There was an uncomfortable silence among the five, broken only by the sound of a busy production team preparing for the LG 2010 NHL Draft Lottery broadcast. Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini was the last of the five to be called to his spot on the set -- and as he walked to his mark, he demonstrated a rare glimpse of pre-lottery anticipation.
"This is exciting!" Tambellini said, cracking a smile as he joined the other expectant executives baking under the studio lights.
Less than 30 minutes later, Tambellini, the Oilers and the city of Edmonton were the proud owners of the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the first time that's happened in franchise history. Tambellini was right -- it was exciting.
Granted, there were only a few moments to bask in the knowledge that the Oilers would be getting a potential franchise player in either Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers or Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires before the question on everyone's mind was posed to the second-year Edmonton GM: Who will the Oilers select with the pick?
Tambellini wasn't ready to let the cat out of the bag just yet.
"I don't think we'll announce (which player we'll take) prior to the draft," he said.
The consensus in the hockey community is that both players have the potential to be franchise-altering talents. The good fortune bestowed upon the Oilers was not lost on Tambellini.
"It's such an important to step for us," he said of getting the top pick. "This will be a wonderful building block and it will have an immediate impact."
The Oilers weren't the only NHL club happy with the outcome of the lottery. Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was the only executive in the building whose club had qualified for the playoffs -- thanks to a deal with Toronto last fall, he also owned an 18.8 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick. While that honor went to Tambellini and the Oilers, Chiarelli's Bruins got the No. 2 selection, with Randy Sexton's Florida Panthers getting the third choice.
Chiarelli wouldn't give any insight into whether the No. 2 pick would be used to take Seguin or Hall, but expressed relief that he'll have the chance to take the player the Oilers leave behind.
"We'll go through the process and evaluate," he said. "I know that I didn't want to see a Bruins logo any lower than second."
The Entry Draft will be held on June 25 and 26 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Tambellini and Chiarelli can expect a lot more questions between now and then.