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Edmonton chooses Taylor Hall to begin NHL draft

NHL.com @NHL

LOS ANGELES (AP) -The Edmonton Oilers selected forward Taylor Hall with the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft on Friday, finally ending a yearlong debate about the best 18-year-old prospects in hockey.

The league-worst Oilers chose Hall over fellow OHL forward Tyler Seguin on Friday, making the toughest call at the top of a draft in several years.

"They're such a great franchise with so much history behind them," Hall said. "With the five (Stanley) Cups they won, it will mean a lot to me to join their organization and hopefully bring another one up there."

Many NHL scouts and executives couldn't choose a favorite between Hall, a physical left wing from the Windsor Spitfires, and Seguin, a smooth-skating center from the Plymouth Whalers. Seguin was the league MVP last season, and Hall was the playoff MVP while leading the Spitfires to the Memorial Cup, earning tournament MVP honors.

The Boston Bruins eagerly grabbed Seguin moments later with the No. 2 pick. Both players expect to be on NHL rosters this fall, and they realize their careers are likely to run on parallel tracks for many years.

"I don't think it matters who goes first overall," Seguin said. "I'm just excited to be here and to be going to Boston. I'm sure the rivalry will continue if we're both in the NHL next year, but we both respect each other. We're good buddies, and that isn't going to change."

Hall and Seguin spent much of the past three days hanging out together at various tours and events - everything from batting practice at Angel Stadium to a red-carpet Hollywood movie premiere - in the NHL draft's first trip to Los Angeles.

Hall is the fourth straight OHL player chosen No. 1, following Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, and John Tavares.

"I feel honored with all the players that have gone No. 1," Hall said. "When I came into this year, that was one of my goals, was to go No. 1. In saying that, there's still a lot of work to do out here."

Just the first round of the draft was scheduled for Staples Center on Friday. The final six rounds are Saturday.

Florida selected Kingston defenseman Erik Gudbranson with the third pick, and Columbus grabbed WHL center Ryan Johansen next.

Forward Nino Niederreiter, Johansen's teammate in Portland, became the highest-drafted Swiss player in NHL history when he went to the New York Islanders with the fifth pick. The Islanders already have defenseman Mark Streit, the only NHL All-Star from Switzerland, as a club cornerstone.

Forward Brett Connolly went sixth to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who weren't worried by his recent injury problems.

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