It's been mostly a two-horse race this season, with Plymouth Whalers center Tyler Seguin and Windsor Spitfires left wing Taylor Hall
leaving the rest of the field in their wake.
The only vote in this election that counts belongs to Edmonton Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini, who owns the right to chose between the two -- and you can be sure when he steps to the podium on the first night of the draft, he will be a highly educated voter.
"Our scouting staff has an extensive book on both players," Tambellini told NHL.com. "Over the last year and a half I've sat down and had dinner with both of them individually, gotten to know them as people. They're both great people. Any team is going to be so fortunate to get either of those two players."
This week at the NHL Scouting Combine, Seguin and Hall -- NHL Central Scouting's top two rated North American skaters for the 2010 Draft -- have been able to make their final campaign pitches.
Each certainly brings a star-studded resume for the position.
Seguin tied for the Ontario Hockey League scoring lead this season, was named OHL MVP and he was voted the Canadian Hockey League's top professional prospect.
Hall tied Seguin for the OHL scoring title, has a silver medal from the World Junior Championship, a pair of Memorial Cups, and just last week became the first player in the 92-year history of the Memorial Cup to win a second straight tournament MVP award.
NHL.com provided both players with a platform to say why they should be the first pick of the draft.Seguin:
"I think it's two main reasons. First off is my improvement level. I came into the league ninth overall, and I kept on getting better through my rookie year and this year. Secondly, I think if you're going to go first overall to a market like Edmonton you're going to be in the spotlight, and you have to be able to handle that pressure. I came into this season not knowing what the pressure feels like but I thought I adapted and handled it well, and was still able to perform."Hall:
"I have the tenacity, I have the speed, I have the skill to do it. If Edmonton feels I'm their guy, I'm going to try make that organization as best I can, try to help them from the shape their in. If I'm not, I'm not going to be too depressed. It would be a great accomplishment to go No. 1. I think I've worked pretty hard for it."
Both players also have been respectful of the other -- no mud-slinging on this campaign trail.
"Taylor and I got better in our own ways because of each other," Seguin told NHL.com. "I think we've pushed each other all year long, made sure neither of us could pull ahead in the scoring race. We pushed each other all season. We're two competitive guys."
"Tyler Seguin is a great player," Hall told NHL.com. "We've competed hard against each other and made each other better players and better people."
Windsor defenseman Cam Fowler has had a front-row view for both players. He battled Hall daily in practices and faced off against him at the World Juniors -- and played against Seguin 11 times (seven in the regular season, four more in the playoffs).
Of Hall, Fowler told NHL.com: "He's a really dynamic, explosive player. He can blow around you with his speed or he can break you down one-on-one. He can protect pucks down low. He's got a great shot, too. I think what's really underrated is his defense. I think he's one of the better penalty killers on our team.
"If you need a franchise player, he's the guy to build the team around."
Seguin, Fowler said, was the hardest player he had to go against in the OHL this season.
"I think he's a little bit more of a playmaker compared to Hall. Both of their speed is really at the NHL level. I think Hallsie's a little more explosive with his first couple steps, but top speed I think they're both right up there. Seguin makes other people around him look better. He can dish you a pass, he can saucer it to you, he can put it through skates, whatever he has to do. And at the same time, he can bury the puck and put it in the net.
"He's also a guy that you can build your team around. They're both going to have great careers in the NHL."
Seguin and Hall are pretty strong candidates, and both will make the Oilers -- or any team that gets them -- very happy. But as with any election, only one can win.
So who will get the Oilers' vote? Tambellini isn't saying, instead making a shrewd political answer: "We're going to have an impact player coming into our organization on June 25. I can't wait for that."Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org