Oilers establish long-term core with Eberle, Hall
Oilers forwards Jordan Eberle (left) and Taylor Hall. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/Reuters file photo)
By itself, Taylor Hall's $42-million, seven-year extension signed last week was just another contract.
But combined with Jordan Eberle's $36-million, six-year deal signed Thursday, it's so much more than that.
It's a mission statement.
It's a template. It's a map to the future.
It's two young core players of a potential future glory gang intentionally tying themselves together with the exact same $6-million-a-year salary for the same sort of term - long term.
It's in effect challenging the other core players working their way into the picture to do the same when their time comes.
Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, roommates and best friends, are running as an entry to do their part to give the modern-day Edmonton Oilers' young stars a chance to be together as long as the five-time Stanley Cup champions core of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Glenn Anderson and Kevin Lowe.
Gretzky played nine NHL seasons in Edmonton, Messier 12, Kurri 10, Fuhr 10, Coffey seven, Anderson 11 and Lowe 14.
Hall is now signed up for nine and Eberle for eight.
Hall is an Oiler until 2019-2020.
Eberle is signed through 2018-2019.
In a way, it establishes the Oilers' own player-to-player salary cap.
Who knows where the NHL salary cap will end up in the next CBA, but it likely gives the Oilers a chance to keep a core group together for all those years. It may help to legislate against stupidity by management when it comes to lesser players.
What makes this so special is that it is the plan of two players.
I asked Eberle, with the first question of Thursday's conference call, about intentionally creating the template and the model to follow with the idea of forcing the flow for the long-term stability and for the ability of the top talent being gathered here to go forward to the future together.
"Obviously with the number, Taylor for seven seasons and me for six, we're stating that we want to be here," Eberle began.
"We want to be the core guys of this team that help us win. We wanted to sign for a similar number and for similar years.
"I think it's a number, too, with him at seven and me at six, that definitely throughout the negotiations we've been talking to each other and what we want to do.
"I don't think there's any other way to put it, we're excited with the direction the way the team is going, especially with a couple of the acquisitions this year," he said of No. 1 pick Nail Yakupov and free agent college defenceman Justin Schultz.
In a follow-up question, your correspondent also asked if he and Hall planned to encourage other players to sign long term to stay together and accomplish things together for what amounts to an entire decade.
"Ya, for sure. Obviously Taylor and I want to be part of this team for a long while. That's why we signed this. I think with us doing that, it brings along other players.
"I know with the talk in the dressing room, everybody is excited. I don't think there is one guy who doesn't want to be an Edmonton Oiler and I think that's great for the organization.
"With us signing long term I think it signifies that the young core of the group want to be here and I know that the guys coming up in the following years in terms of expiring, hopefully with with a positive year this year, it's going to impact on what they want to do, too."
Eberle says it's an exciting time.
"Obviously with Taylor getting his done last week, it was pretty anxious.
"With the direction the team is going it's pretty obvious that there's a lot of excitement level around Edmonton and throughout our locker room.
"To see Taylor get his done was exciting. Now I have mine done. There's just a lot of excitement level. It locks you up with the team you want to be with for a significant amount of time."
It wasn't that long ago that Edmonton was a place few hockey players wanted to come.
The combined signings of Eberle and Hall sends the message of how Edmonton, hopefully with a first-rate, top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art downtown arena and entertainment district, is becoming a destination of choice.
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