Despite his young age, Taylor Hall had no problem signing a contract extension that will keep him with the Edmonton Oilers into the next decade.
"I'm only 20 years old. I think [the contract] just shows the commitment that I have here. When they said seven years I didn't blink," Hall said on the Oilers' website Wednesday -- not long after agreeing to a seven-year contract extension worth $42 million. "I'm comfortable being here for that long, and I think by that time, hopefully we're a perennial threat. That's my main goal, and that's my mindset when I signed the deal, is that that's going to happen."
Hall, who still has one year remaining on his entry-level deal, is locked up through the 2019-20 season. He becomes the highest-paid player on the team with an average annual value of $6 million.
Left Wing - EDM
GOALS: 27 | ASST: 26 | PTS: 53
SOG: 207 | +/-: -3
Another step toward the Oilers securing their long-term future could come soon -- forward Jordan Eberle reportedly is close to signing a contract extension of his own.
"We've had some good dialogue throughout this whole thing," Hall said of conversations with Eberle. "I think his should be pretty soon, I can't say for sure, but he's along the same path, he wants to be here, so do I. It's only a matter of time before all this kind of settles and we can go and play hockey."
General manager Steve Tambellini said he had nothing to report on the Eberle negotiation, but he was pleased his two forwards may have been in contact.
"The way you build a championship group is obviously talent," Tambellini said on a conference call. "But the second part is the character and team unity that you can develop, and the pride that goes into being so tight, so close together. That takes a lot of things to become a successful, winning franchise.
"It's beginning with players like that, with Taylor and Jordan, and some of our veteran players, they believe, as what Taylor says, in what we're trying to do, what we're going to do, and they're excited ... and they can see what's going to happen in the future here, with the talent level that's here.
"So I'm not surprised they've got their plan individually and as a group, and I'm happy about it. I'm happy that they feel so close."
The Oilers will have one of the most talented young groups in the NHL after a rebuild that has seen them finish last in the NHL in consecutive seasons before moving up to 29th in 2011-12 with a 32-40-10 record.
Hall, chosen No. 1 by the Oilers in the 2010 NHL Draft, has 49 goals and 95 points in 126 regular-season NHL games spanning two seasons. There's a good chance he could be part of a productive and entertaining top line alongside 2011 No. 1 pick Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and 2012 No. 1 choice Nail Yakupov.
Add to that Eberle, who led the team with 76 points last season, newly signed college free-agent defenseman Justin Schultz, and goalie Devan Dubnyk.
"When they said seven years I didn't blink. I'm comfortable being here for that long, and I think by that time, hopefully we're a perennial threat. That's my main goal, and that's my mindset when I signed the deal, is that that's going to happen." -- Taylor Hall
"With everything that's gone on lately, I think it's not a stretch to imagine that we can keep all the young guys together, and I think this proves that today," Hall told reporters in North Edmonton.
"It's exciting. It's been something I've been thinking about for a long time, since probably since the season ended," Hall said. "For us to get it done in a fashion that's really comfortable for both sides, I think that's very important."
Hall missed 21 games last season after shoulder surgery, but finished tied for fifth in the League with 13 power-play goals. He finished with 27 goals and 53 points, second on the Oilers behind Eberle.
He said he is 4 1/2 months through a six-month rehabilitation process, and returned to the ice a month ago, skating twice a week.
"I'm really positive about it," Hall said of his recovery. "I'm not going to say I'm going to be perfect on day one, but it feels really good and I'm excited about the process of being healthy.
"It was a hard summer, but the way it feels now I think it's all worth it."