The New York Islanders will likely make John Tavares, centre, or Victor Hedman, right, their No. 1 overall pick. Matt Duchene, at left, is another top prospect. ((Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press))

The New York Islanders won the NHL's draft lottery more than two months ago, yet have not tipped their hand on who will be their No. 1 overall pick.

The selection boils down to two players: John Tavares or Victor Hedman.

The decision is not an easy one for general manger Garth Snow and the rest of the scouting department.

With the draft set for Montreal on Friday night (7 p.m. ET), Snow must decide on Tavares — a great goal-scorer who has played at a high level since he entered the Ontario Hockey League as a 15-year-old — or Hedman, a massive, agile Swedish defenceman who has been compared to Zdeno Chara and Chris Pronger.

CBCSports.ca is hosting a live draft chat beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET, with coverage also on Hockey Night in Canada Radio on Sirius from 4 to 10 p.m. ET.

Centre Matt Duchene of the OHL's Brampton Battalion has been mentioned as a possible No. 1 overall candidate, but conventional wisdom suggest the Islanders will chose between the two top-ranked players in the draft.

Tavares surpasses Gretzky

Tavares played four seasons in the OHL, beginning with the Oshawa Generals before being traded to the London Knights this past season.

The Mississauga, Ont., native made an immediate impact early in his junior career, breaking Wayne Gretzky's OHL record for goals by a 16-year-old with 72. He finished his career as the league's all-time leading scorer with 215 goals.

Tavares, 18, also left his mark at the world junior tournament this year, winning MVP honours after scoring eight goals and 15 points in only six games.

Still, fans expecting to see the next Sidney Crosby will be greatly disappointed.

"I think from a marketing standpoint John Tavares makes so much sense," Mark Seidel of the Central Scouting Bureau said during CBCSports.ca's online report. "If you can take somebody that can put the puck in the net, that's the name of the game.

"Has some defensive deficiencies but has worked on that somewhat. He's never going to be Bob Gainey out there, but I think he probably has a better ability to finish than even Jason Spezza did when he came out.

"John Tavares just scores goals, but I think Jason Spezza is probably the comparison."

Monster blue-liner

At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, Hedman is the type of defenceman who could anchor a power play while becoming the centrepiece of a defensive foundation.

Hedman logged nearly 22 minutes a game, playing against mostly adult men for Modo of the Swedish Elite League last season.

The big Swede also played on two silver-medal teams at the world junior tournament, and scouts love his upside.

"I think that's the debate Garth Snow and the Islanders are having right now," Seidel said of New York's decision. "Marketing is one thing, but winning in another.

"If you get a defenceman that can play 28 or 30 minutes a night, you're going to be giving yourself a chance to win. The question [remains], is he going to be a Chara or Pronger, or is he going to become Hal Gill?

"He doesn't have the nastiness of a Pronger and that's the one concern we have. When you see a guy that big and physically dominant, you'd like to see him pound people."

With Tavares and Hedman likely gone when the Colorado Avalanche select at No. 3, the team is expected to take Duchene, who many believe is the third-best prospect.

His playmaker ability would make him a great fit to replace Colorado icon Joe Sakic one day.

Trading spree?

Seidel also expects trades to take centre stage early in the draft. To that end, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has been making noise about wanting to move up in the draft.

While a deal for the top pick seems out of reach, Burke has admitted to talking with Atlanta GM Don Waddell for the Thrashers' No. 4 pick.

Reports have Burke wanting to trade up to select Brandon Wheat Kings forward Brayden Schenn, the younger brother of Leafs blue-liner Luke Schenn.

There have been reports that Toronto has received offers from several teams regarding the availability of defenceman Tomas Kaberle.