Saturday, June 26, 2010

Edmonton Oilers Select Taylor Hall in 2010 NHL Draft


When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that Edmonton was “on the clock”, the 2010 Draft was officially underway at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. For the Oilers’ managers, scouts and fans, a disappointing season resulted in the first-ever number one pick in franchise history and it could be said that they had been on the clock since injuries to several key players resulted in loss after loss and a slide down the standings.

The Edmonton Oilers selected Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires first overall in the 2010 Draft, ending months of speculation as to who the team would select - Hall or Tyler Seguin. The strong skating winger/center from Calgary, Alberta is thrilled with his new team and the honour of being selected in the top spot, and is looking forward to making an impact on a franchise ready to move up in the standings.

“Just to join such a great franchise,” Hall told the Edmonton media (available at NHL.com). “Hopefully I can make that team next year. That's my first step. We can really re-create some of the magic they had there. I think when you have a young team, that's something I'm really looking forward to joining.”

A two-time Memorial Cup winner in Windsor, as well as being named the tournament MVP on both occasions, Hall has all the tools to be a star in the NHL. In 183 games in the Ontario Hockey League, he scored 123 goals and added 157 assists for 280 points. He won Gold with Canada’s Under-18 team in 2008 and Silver at last year’s World Junior Championship.

“He’s such an impressive young man,” Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini told the media after the announcement. “I don’t think I have ever met a more focused, competitive athlete in a long time.”

Head Scout Stu MacGregor was equally impressed with Hall during his many hours of scouting and interviewing the prospect before this year’s draft.

“Taylor just plays so hard, he gives us something we haven’t had in a long time - that absolute passion and drive,” said MacGregor. “He’s a guy that rises up, he wants to win, he wants to win a Stanley Cup. He was the first guy of all those high ranked players that talked about winning a Stanley Cup right from the get-go. He’s a hockey guy; we’re really excited about him.”

Hall will be the key component in the Oilers rebuilding process, but he is not alone when it comes to great young prospects in the Edmonton system. Jordan Eberle (first round, 22nd overall in 2008), Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (first round, 10th overall in 2009), and Anton Lander (second round, 40th overall in 2009) could all make the Oilers opening night roster in October.

Eberle, his generation’s “Captain Canada”, has excelled in every International tournament he has been a part of, and scored 50 goals and added 56 assists this past season with the Regina Pats in the Western Hockey League. Considered a natural goal scorer, many analysts believe he is ready for the NHL. Paajarvi-Svensson has also stood out on the International stage and scored 20 goals in 134 games with Timra in the Swedish Elite League. Highly skilled and 6’1, his speed has been compared to former Canadiens great Mats Naslund, and his gritty play has been compared to Peter Forsberg. Anton Lander also spent last season with Timra in the SEL, accumulating 16 points in 49 games last season. A great two-way player with good on-ice vision, Lander and Paarjarvi-Svensson could be the NHL’s next dynamic duo, as the two played on a line together with Timra.

While the NHL Draft is only the first step on the road to the NHL, Taylor Hall has officially begun his journey. The Edmonton fans are ready for a winning season, and the new face of the franchise, along with the other young talent assembled by Kevin Lowe, Steve Tambellini and Stu MacGregor is ready to deliver one.

Photo by Tabercil on Flickr.com

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