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Young trio has Oilers' future looking bright

by Sergei J. Feldman
Any fan of the HBO show "Entourage" would love to travel for a day with fictional movie star Vincent Chase, and the Edmonton Oilers’ 2008 first-round draft pick, Jordan Eberle, is no exception.

After a morning and afternoon filled with constant evaluations, intense on-ice sessions and off-ice conditioning during this week’s development camp, Eberle roamed the Edmonton streets en route to a dinner with a roommate.

What followed was the gaze of intrigued spectators who looked in with admiration at the two young talents.

The roommate was Taylor Hall, the first pick of the 2010 Entry Draft, the city’s new ray of light and the Oilers’ equivalent of Chicago's young, dynamic duo of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

"He's a rock star," Eberle said of Hall. "People just go crazy for him."

About as crazy as they might soon be going for the rest of the Oilers.

Joining Hall -- who signed the most lucrative rookie contract in team history July 5 and who figures to compete for a top-six forward job this season -- and Eberle in this year's development camp was 2009 first-round selection Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, a crafty, Swedish-born forward who recently signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Edmonton, signifying his excitement to transfer his skills and game to the NHL.

With all three in the mix, the Oilers are well positioned to turn last season's League-worst 27-47-8 record into simply a blip on the franchise's radar.

"The fans are excited about the future here," Eberle said. "There are some pretty big names (at camp), and people are excited to see them on the ice."

Just how excited, exactly? The opening day of camp saw Clareview Arena fully packed.

"The crowd has been awesome," Eberle said. "People were disappointed with how we did last year. Now they can look ahead."

But with great excitement comes great expectations, and in turn, great pressure. And while the challenge is welcomed, a curbing of enthusiasm may be in order.

"People are getting the feel that this is a rebuilding phase," Eberle said. "It's definitely nice to be a part of, especially as a young guy, but it's going to take some time. It's not going to be built overnight."

But for Paajarvi-Svensson, those things are simply a part of the process.

"Expectations are higher the better you are," he said. "But you have to deal with it and I've been dealing with it. You have to really develop."

More importantly, he said, "The biggest pressure is what I put on myself."

Despite early signs of poise and maturity, Eberle and Paajarvi-Svensson needed time to grow accustomed to the rigors that come with an NHL camp.

Admittedly "a little shocked at first," Paajarvi-Svensson's talents and abilities prevailed and comfort settled in nicely after not having skated much in the summer months, as was the case with Eberle.

Now it's a matter of excelling at a higher level of competition, which Paajarvi-Svensson is confident he can do.

"I've been playing with and against good players for three years now," he said, referring to his previous seasons with Timra IK of the Swedish Elite League. "I proved I can play at a high level."

Meanwhile, Hall has done nothing but prove that since he first tied on a pair of skates, and his excellence thus far has not gone unnoticed on his peers.

"He's got sick skill," Paajarvi-Svensson said.

"If we can get some chemistry, that's going to help, for sure. (Eberle and Hall) have really good potential. I think we can build on something here. The future is bright for the Edmonton Oilers."
-- Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson

Eberle, showing early signs of chemistry, agreed with Paajarvi-Svensson's assessment.

"Anytime you're on the ice with talent like that it makes the game more special," he said.

And special is what will emerge if the Oilers' hopefuls develop some on-ice telepathy.

"If we can get some chemistry, that's going to help, for sure," Paajarvi-Svensson said. "(Eberle and Hall) have really good potential. I think we can build on something here. The future is bright for the Edmonton Oilers."

First thing's first, though, as Paajarvi-Svensson points out.

"You have to make the team first, but that's the plan."

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