EDMONTON - Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall will continue to be the cornerstones of the Edmonton Oilers.
Eberle agreed to a six-year, US$36-million contract extension with Edmonton on Thursday. The move comes just over a week after Hall, Eberle's roommate, signed a seven-year, $42-million extension with the Oilers.
"Obviously me and Taylor want to be a part of this team for a while,'' Eberle said during a conference call. "That's why we signed this way.
"I think it signifies the young core of the group wanted to be here.''
The five-foot-11, 184-pound Eberle was taken in the first round, 22nd overall, by Edmonton in the 2008 NHL entry draft.
The 22-year-old Regina native has registered 52 goals and 67 assists in 147 games over his two seasons with Edmonton.
Eberle had 34 goals and 42 assists in 78 games last year with the Oilers.
Eberle said both he and Hall spoke often during the respective contract negotiations and it was important to the two stars that they sign deals worth the same on an annual basis.
"I think it kind of signifies, like I said before, that we both want to be here for a significant amount of time," he said. "We see the direction the team is going and that's in a forward direction.
"I think this year is definitely going to be a big year for us as far as developing our name as a team. Our success in the past couple of years hasn't been nearly where we want it to be and next year is going to be a huge stepping stone for us.''
This off-season the Oilers promoted associate coach Ralph Krueger to the head job to replace Tom Renney, whose contract wasn't renewed. The Winnipeg native takes over an Edmonton team that's finished last in the Northwest Division three straight years and missed the Stanley Cup playoffs six consecutive seasons.
The Oilers also signed highly-regarded defenceman Justin Schultz as a free agent July 1. The six-foot-two, 185-pound native of Westbank, B.C., had 16 goals and 28 assists in 37 games last season at the University of Wisconsin, finishing his NCAA career with 40 goals and 73 assists in 121 games at Wisconsin.
But Eberle said with both he and Hall committing long-term to the Oilers, hopefully other players will follow suit and come to Edmonton.
However, Eberle admits the magnitude of his extension will put added pressure on him.
"Obviously there's a lot of pressure that goes along with this but at the same time I'm going to go out there and do the exact same thing," he said. "I've had a huge summer in training, maybe the best I've had in a long time.
"I've been healthy, I don't know whether it's because I'm getting older or if I'm getting my man strength but whatever it is I'm definitely a lot stronger than I've been, for sure, ever in my life and I'm excited for a new season.''
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