Oilers correctly select Hall as number one

It took almost four hours, but the 2010 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone, with the event producing a few surprises and little drama.

Of course, everyone waited with baited breath as Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini put a year’s worth of debate to an end by selecting Windsor Spitfires star Taylor Hall with the first overall pick.

After taking a couple of days to digest it, I’m now convinced the Oilers made the right choice by calling the name of the two-time Memorial Cup MVP.

Since the beginning of the great Taylor-Tyler debate, I was always in the Tyler Seguin camp.

Seguin, a right handed centre for the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, is the kind of player that teams can build a winner around.

He was named the OHL’s Player of the Year, and was ranked number one by NHL Central Scouting in the weeks leading up to the draft.

“He’ll be best player of the 2010 draft class five years from now,” was the battle cry for many, including myself, who were tooting the vuvuzela for Seguin.

But as TSN analyst Pierre Maguire so aptly pointed out, when you have the number one pick in the draft, you take the best player available, not the best player five years from now.

And the best player on the board Friday night was Taylor Hall.

After the Oilers made Hall the number one choice, Boston shocked no one by selecting Seguin with the second overall pick.

Florida GM Dale Tallon then wasted little time with the third pick, calling out the name of Kingston Frontenacs defenseman Erik Gudbranson.

It was at that point where watching the draft started to make me feel a little uncomfortable.

Windsor blueliner Cam Fowler and Moncton d-man Brandon Gormley were ranked fourth and fifth respectively by just about every scouting service out there, but neither found themselves being selected in the top five as they had hoped.

Teams like Columbus, the New York Islanders, Carolina and Atlanta decided to go with forwards with their first round picks, leaving Fowler and Gormley sitting in the stands at the Staples Centre waiting for a team, any team, to call their name.

And as each team passed on the pair of the rearguards, TSN felt it necessary to focus their cameras in on each player as they squirmed uncomfortably in their seats, wondering if their time would ever come.

It felt almost like TSN was enjoying the misery of the duo, forgetting, it seemed, that these 18-year-old kids are just that….kids.

When Fowler finally heard his name called by the Anaheim Ducks at spot number 12, he dutifully reported for his post draft interview with James Duthie where he faced a barrage of questions about how far he had fallen in the rankings, not the fact that he had just been selected by an NHL club three years removed from winning it all.

It was the same story for Gormley, who went immediately after Fowler, at spot number 13 to the Phoenix Coyotes.

I realize that, as highly touted prospects, these young men need to learn to shoulder the pressure that comes with being a professional athlete.

But at the same time, these kids are still learning the ropes, still adjusting to life in the spotlight.

Can we not just celebrate the fact that these kids are one step closer to making their dreams of playing in the NHL a reality?

It’s a good thing they don’t televise the other rounds of the draft.

Otherwise we might have seen them do the same thing to Red Deer Rebels defenceman Alex Petrovic, who was ranked 29th amongst North American skaters heading into the draft, and ended up going 36th overall to Florida.