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Cornerstone winger Hall signs seven-year extension

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
 Taylor Hall scored 27 goals and 53 points in 2011-12 (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club).

Edmonton, AB - During a summer in which the Edmonton Oilers had made it clear their intentions were to lock up the club's core talent, General Manager Steve Tambellini did just that Wednesday morning, signing cornerstone winger Taylor Hall to a seven-year, $42 million contract extension.

"It's exciting," said the soon-to-be 21-year-old after an intense session at Perry Pearn's 3-on-3 Camp. "It's been something that I'd been thinking about for a long time, probably since the season ended. For us to get it done and in a fashion that's very comfortable for both sides, I think that's very important."

Hall's entry-level contract, which was signed prior to the 2010-11 season with an annual cap-hit of $3.75 million, will expire next summer. His agent, Paul Krepelka, also represents Carolina Hurricanes centre Jeff Skinner, who was recently re-signed to a six-year deal worth more than $34 million.

Skinner, the seventh overall selection in Hall's draft year, collected 20 goals and 44 points in 64 games last season.

"We talked about numbers but when Skinner's deal came through, that's when we started with the negotiations," Hall said. "From there it was pretty simple, we just had to agree on a number. I obviously wanted to be here (long-term) and I'm extremely thrilled that it worked out.

"I'm only 20-years-old, and I think that shows the commitment that I have here. When they said seven years, I didn't blink -- I'm comfortable being here for that long. By that time, we're going to be a perennial threat and that was my main goal and mindset when I signed my deal.

"It all worked out, I'm very happy -- so are the Oilers. It's been a good relationship for the last two years and I hope that continues."

Hall wasn't the only Oiler seeking long-term commitment, as negotiations with leading-scorer Jordan Eberle are ongoing.

"We've had some good dialogue throughout this whole thing," Hall said of communication with his linemate. "His should [be signed] be pretty soon -- I can't say for sure, but he's along the same path, he wants to be here.

"With everything that's been going on lately, I don't think it's a stretch to think that we can keep all the young guys together long-term."

The 6'1", 194-pound speedster has spent the past two seasons as an Oiler, posting 49 goals and 95 points in 126 games. Both his rookie and sophomore seasons were cut short, by 17 and 21 games respectively. Last year in late-November, Hall was rocked by Colorado Avalanche defenceman Ryan Wilson with a clean jolt along the side-boards, causing a shoulder injury that inevitably required surgery and a six-month recovery process.

That's all behind him now. No. 4 has been skating for the past month, twice a week, and is ready to get back into a full-contact environment.

"It's good. It felt really good today," he said, adding that the injury didn't change his summer training program. "I'm four-and-a-half months through a six-month process. I'm really positive about it; I'm not going to say that I'm going to be perfect on Day 1, but it feels really good now I'm excited about the process of being healthy again.

"I did a lot of upper-body weight-lifting, so I wasn't too mad about that. I had to go to rehab three days a week and that was an hour long, so I had to go to that and do my other workouts and then skate. It piled on, but it was something that when I decided to go through with it (surgery), I was prepared for it. It was a hard summer, but given the way it feels now, it was worth it."

Given the uncertainly of the ongoing labour dispute between the NHL and NHLPA, Hall doesn't want the season (or, at least the start of it) and the progress he's made go to waste. Considering the Oilers should be on the upswing this year, with Hall, Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and now Nail Yakupov getting all the attention, he and others all have the itch to get back into game action.

"It's been a long off-season, especially with me being injured and having to rehab. Even being back on the ice now is exciting. The prospect of a new contract, a new team and a new season -- and with (Head Coach) Ralph (Krueger) behind the bench, everyone's excited."

For this and the next seven seasons at least, you can bet the fans are, too.

-- Ryan Dittrick, | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick

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