"Our scouting staff has an extensive book on both players. 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." - Steve Tambellini
With the first choice heading into the June 25-26 selection extravaganza in Los Angeles, Tambellini knows he's going to get a solid player. The hard part is deciding whether that player is Plymouth Whalers center Tyler Seguin or Windsor Spitfires left wing Taylor Hall
, NHL Central Scouting's top two players its final ranking of North American skaters for the draft.
"We're going to have an impact player coming into our organization on June 25," Tambellini told NHL.com. "I can't wait for that."
Tambellini wouldn't reveal whether he and his staff has made a decision yet, but did say he's met extensively with both players already, and will see them again over the next few days at the NHL Scouting Combine.
"Our scouting staff has an extensive book on both players," said Tambellini. "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."
Boston selects second and will likely take the player Edmonton passes over.
In Seguin, the Oilers would be getting a strong two-way center who has drawn comparisons to Steve Yzerman. Seguin tied for the OHL scoring title with 106 points. He also had 48 goals, and finished with 25 more goals and 43 more points than anyone else on his team. He won the league MVP trophy and was voted the Canadian Hockey League's best professional prospect.
In Hall, the Oilers would get a player who has shown a remarkable ability to perform his best on the biggest stage. He had 6 goals and 12 points in six games to help Canada win a silver medal at the World Junior Championship, and after tying Seguin for the OHL scoring title, he led the league in playoff scoring for a second straight year. He capped his season by helping Windsor become the first team in 15 years to win back-to-back Memorial Cups, and he became the first player in the 92-year history of Canada's national junior championship to win consecutive tournament MVP awards.
Those kinds of resumes are why Tambellini feels he's in a no-lose situation. And when you add in other players in the Oilers' system -- a group topped by promising forwards Jordan Eberle
and Magnus Paajarvi
-Svensson -- the Edmonton GM sees a bright future not too far off on the horizon.
"We had, we think, a great draft last year with Paajarvi-Svensson (the No. 10 pick of the 2009 draft) and (2009 second-round pick Anton) Lander. Svensson, who's just 19, just had a great World Championship (5 goals, 9 points in nine games). We're rebuilding (and) we're going to bring some new people in here."
Will the next new person be Seguin or Hall? Tambellini wasn't giving any clues, and said there are lots to like about both players.
"Both are tremendously focused individuals," he said. "Their skill sets are similar but a little different, which is obvious. The thing that comes out of both with those kids is they have such a focus on performance and getting better. It's pretty impressive to see when you spend time with them." Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com