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Habs, 'Canes lock up young stars. Are the Oilers next?

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall & Jordan Eberle combined to score 129 points in 2011-12, leading the club in scoring (Photos by Andy Devlin / EOHC).

Edmonton, AB - In little more than a month, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle will -- pending CBA negotiations -- return to Rexall Place to begin another season in the NHL as Edmonton Oilers.

There's been a lot of talk about the Oilers' 20- and 22-year-old leading-scorers due to what's been happening around the league. Montreal signed Max Pacioretty to a six-year extension, which came on the heels of a similar deal between Carolina and Jeff Skinner. Could the Oilers dynamic duo be next?

When asked if the team was talking contracts with Hall and Eberle, Oilers Assistant General Manager Ricky Olczyk would only say, "Our goal still remains to secure our core players for now and in the future."

After adding it's team policy not to comment on negotiations, Olczyk was more open talking about the players and what they mean to the team.

"[Hall and Eberle] really love Edmonton and want to be a part of what we're building here. They can see that we're going to have success very soon. There's this wave that's been coming on and keeps building -- it keeps getting more and more exciting.

"They want to be leaders and we're very excited from a management standpoint to see players that want to contribute and be a part of it all -- to continue to where we need to end up, and that's winning a Stanley Cup."

Playing in only 61 games, Hall's 2011-12 season ended prematurely. Still, he collected career-highs in goals (27) and assists (26), bettering his rookie totals by 11 points in four fewer games.

In 78 regular-season contests, Eberle shattered his rookie numbers, gathering 34 goals and 76 points -- leading the Oilers in scoring by a 23-point margin over No. 4. As a result, he earned a spot in the NHL All-Star Game and a nomination for the Lady Byng Trophy by season's end.

Both players' three-year entry-level deals expire after the 2012-13 campaign.

"They're both tremendous individuals," Olczyk said. "They both have leadership qualities, a high amount of character and that's the main reason why we ended up selecting these players. They've both represented the organization very well and have conducted themselves in a professional manner on and off the ice."

"We're seeing great improvement in both players -- we expect them both to be part of our core in the future and be players that we want to build our team around. We're looking forward to continued success with them and we expect that they're going to get even better as time goes on."

While we wait for the season to begin, Oilers fans watch closely for any news that two of the team's young stars have been locked up for the long term.

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

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