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Six-year extension keeps Eberle in Oilers silks through 2018-19

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton, AB - Just like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle has committed long-term to the Edmonton Oilers.

The 22-year-old signed a six-year, $36 million contract extension Thursday, keeping him in orange and blue through the 2018-19 season.

Eberle's three-year entry-level deal will expire next summer.

"I'm pretty excited," he said during a media conference call. "It's something I've been working on in the last little bit here. With Taylor (Hall) getting his done last week, I was pretty anxious. I'm happy to be an Oiler. It was a term that states that I want to be here for a while and with the direction the team's going in, it's pretty obvious that there's a lot of excitement around Edmonton and in our locker room."

A little over a week ago, Hall signed a similar extension. He'll also be earning a $6 million annual price tag, but on a slightly longer seven-year term.

Eberle and Hall, close buddies and roommates, were in close contact throughout their negotiations and wanted to commit equally -- both in dollar and term. In doing so, he didn't want to hinder any down-the-road progress when it comes to inking some of the team's up-and-coming young superstars on a similar development curve.

"We're saying we want to be here," Eberle said. "We want to be the core guys on this team. [Taylor] at seven (years) and me at six, he's a year younger than me -- we're both excited. Throughout the negotiations we've been talking to each other about what we want to do. We're excited to be here and with the direction the team's going, especially with a couple acquisitions this summer and with the team being a year older, we're going to have a reputation of a winning team here soon.

"We've developed ourselves in this organization and came in at the same time. It's a number that we wanted to sign, similar numbers and similar years. If guys are exceeding expectations such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins when the time comes, then so be it. It's a situation right now for us, it's exciting for us but we have a lot to prove still. Team-wise we haven't really done much and that's where we need to push to.

"It's a big day."

General Manager Steve Tambellini spoke to in an exclusive interview Thursday, speaking highly about Eberle's value to the club and how he's come a long way in deserving the raise (and the praise).

"I'm happy and I'm proud of Jordan because he deserves it," Tambellini said, smiling. "He's a young player, a young man that's totally committed to what we're trying to accomplish here. Now to have Taylor and Jordan both locked in for some time here with the Oilers, it feels pretty good.

"I remember coming here four years ago and there seemed to be a lot of pressure at that time that Jordan needed to have a spot here with the Oilers. If you recall, he had a pretty good camp; his testing was good, he'd had some AHL experience, but we decided to send him back to Regina (WHL's Pats) where he had an outstanding year. I believe he scored 50 goals and had an incredible World Junior experience. When he came back, he was another year into it as far as experience and being ready to play in the NHL."

In his sophomore season last year, Eberle scored a career- and team-high 34 goals and 76 points, leading the club in points and setting a new benchmark in accolades. The Regina, Saskatchewan native earned a nod in the All-Star game and a nomination for the NHL's Lady Byng Trophy.

Hall recorded 27 goals and 53 points, but was on a 71-point pace if he had played the entire season; again, very similar.

"The recognition that you feel around the League for our young players in general (is great)," Tambellini said. "Obviously with Jordan, the respect is there. The one thing you have to remember is that you don't get it unless you earn it. They've both (Taylor and Jordan) earned it."

Still, there's some work to be done before Eberle (and Hall) can be labeled alongside the NHL's elite, such as Chicago's Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and so on.

Make no mistake, Eberle understands he's not quite there but is willing to put it all on the ice next season to get one step closer.

"There's a lot of pressure that goes along with this," he said. "But I'm going to go out there and do the exact same thing. I don't know if I'm getting older, getting more mature or if it's my man strength coming in, but I'm excited for a new season. This is going to be a huge year.

"I don't think there's one guy [in our locker room] that doesn't want to be an Edmonton Oiler -- and that's great for the organization. The young core as a group wants to be here."

Just as Tambellini alluded to, a championship won't come until you bring in the right skill and the right people to complement it.

Fortunately the Oilers have both locked up long-term. It's a solid steppingstone.

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

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