Taylor Hall is in for the long haul in Edmonton.
The Oilers signed the young forward to a US$42-million, seven-year contract extension Wednesday and the Calgary native said he had no hesitation about the length of the deal.
“When they said seven years I didn’t blink,” the 20-year-old Hall said. “I’m comfortable being here for that long. I think by that time ... I hope we’re a perennial threat. That’s my main goal and my mindset when I signed the deal.”
Hall was the Oilers’ first overall pick in 2010 and has since become a key fixture on the team’s youthful top line alongside fellow first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.
“You have to have complete belief in the player and our organization obviously does,” said Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini. “He just brings such a complete level to our organization. He grabs the rope and pulls everybody along.”
The deal makes Hall the highest paid player on the Oilers in average salary at $6 million per year. Veteran centre Shawn Horcoff, who signed a hefty six-year, $33-million deal in 2009-10, will make $6 million next season but averages a lower cap hit at $5.5 million.
Eberle is also in negotiations for a contract extension and likely looking for similar money to Hall. Eberle made his rookie debut the same year as Hall and is coming off a breakout season with a team-high 34 goals and 76 points.
“We’ve had some good dialogues throughout this whole thing and I think his should be pretty soon,” Hall said of his linemate. “He’s along the same path, he wants to be here and so do I.”
Tambellini wouldn’t reveal where the Oilers are in making deal with Eberle.
“We’ve had some discussions but I don’t have anything to report at this time,” he said.
The Oilers have been in rebuilding mode for several years now. Last season they finished 29th in the NHL with a 32-40-10 record.
Hall finished second behind Eberle in scoring with 27 goals and 26 assists in 61 games. His season was cut short due to a shoulder injury, but says he’s four and half months into a six-month recovery and feeling close to being game-ready.
“It’s good, I’m really positive about it,” said Hall. “I’m not going to say I’m perfect on Day 1 but it feels really good now and I’m excited about the process of being healthy.”
Hall’s numbers last season were slightly up from his rookie campaign when he had 22 goals and 20 assists in 65 games in another injury-shortened season.
Hall and Nugent-Hopkins were the first and second, respectively, of Edmonton’s three straight first overall picks in the last three NHL drafts.
In June, the Oilers chose Russian forward Nail Yakupov, who signed an entry-level, three-year deal last month.