With one year left on Taylor Hall's entry-level contract and no real urgency to get a deal done since he would be a restricted free agent at the end of next season, the Oilers weren't willing to see how the NHL's new CBA would pan out.
So Hall, who has had multiple injury issues resulting in 38 missed games over his two-year career, will be paid an annual amount of $6 million per year.
Enter Jordan Eberle, the team's top scorer and—while some will obviously disagree with me based on Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov's pedigree—Edmonton's best player.
A few days ago The Sporting News reported that the Oilers were close to extending Hall and Eberle. Hitting the nail on the head with Hall, it's presumable that Eberle will indeed be signed soon.
Last season, Eberle's second in the NHL, the youngster almost hit a point-per-game mark with 76 points in 78 games played on an absolutely awful Oilers squad.
How much does Eberle stand out among his teammates?
Without searching YouTube.com or surfing the NHL Network to look at replays of his incredible goals and playmaking skills, the numbers speak for themselves. He was the only player on the team to crack the 60-point threshold and beat it by 16 points; the next highest was Hall with 53. Eberle also led the team in goals and assists and was one of the few guys in Edmonton to record a positive plus/minus rating at the end of the season.
In short, Eberle's agent has got to be salivating at the chance to sit down at the table and talk money with the Oilers. Not only is Eberle the best player in Edmonton, but he's got a lot of leverage talking money now with Hall signing long-term for big bucks. Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff, older players left over from the team's Stanley Cup run in 2006, make $5 and $5.5 million a year, respectively. Both have regressed a good amount from previous seasons.
Edmonton fans are going to be very happy, very soon. The team has done the right thing locking up one of its best and brightest talents for the better part of a decade. So let's hope that it gives Eberle the kind of money he deserves to keep him happy.
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