Oilers sign top pick Hall

Taylor Hall signs a contract Monday as Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini looks on. (AMBER...

Taylor Hall signs a contract Monday as Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini looks on. (AMBER BRACKEN/EDMONTON SUN)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

EDMONTON - It is not news when a No. 1 pick signs with the team which selected him first overall in the NHL Entry Draft. Especially when the player basically announces it the day before at a football game.

Unless his mother’s name is Bonnie Lindros, he’s going to sign the contract. No matter who he is, he’s going to get the maximum the collective bargaining agreement allows. And no matter who his agent is, in this case Bobby Orr, the negotiation is going to take about 30 seconds.

“It’s the quickest contract I ever had to get done,” said Oilers GM Steve Tambellini of the maximum base salary of $900,000 a season over three seasons with easily obtainable bonuses which could bring it up to more than $3 million per season.

So why were two radio stations and a few TV outlets broadcasting it live at noon Monday in Edmonton?

“For us, today, it’s not just an exciting day, it’s a huge move forward to the day this will be a great team again,” began Tambellini.

That’s why.

And that’s why the coverage of this week’s prospects camp, with Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick, etc., will be like no training camp in Oilers history since the first one in 1979 when Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Kevin Lowe and the gang prepared to play their first year in the NHL. And this isn’t a training camp.

“When we become a team with a chance to win, this young man is going to be part of it,” said Tambellini.

“Now the excitement is over, I’m excited to get started,” said Hall. “The biggest thing to me, my family and my agent is to get it out of my head. This is my first step.”

Tambellini said Hall didn’t need anything other than hockey in his head this week or between the time he leaves here after the prospects camp and returns in September for the real camp.

“I can’t imagine the pressure of being the first pick, not just in Edmonton but all over Canada,” said Tambellini.

And with that, the contract was placed on the table, the photographers moved in and the moment was recorded for history.

A few moments later, before taking his place in a media scrum, Tambellini slipped the prize piece of paper to assistant GM Rick Olczyk who immediately took it to wherever it will remain before the day the Hockey Hall of Fame asks for it. (See. That’s the kind of pressure Tambellini is talking about here.)

“It seems like so long, the build-up,” said Tambellini of the Tyler Or Taylor countdown. “The more distractions you can take off his plate the better.”

One of Tambellini’s favourite moments of it all came just a few minutes before they brought Hall from the Oilers’ dressing room down the back corridor to the interview room at Rexall Place.

While the prospects camp will be held at the Clareview Arena, the players will dress and have all their meetings at Rexall. And when Hall showed up Monday, his Oilers camp uniform and equipment was all in place in a dressing room stall with his name on it.

“It was great seeing him sit in the dressing room. He enjoyed sitting there so much he didn’t seem to want to leave that stall,” said the GM.

Right now, this kid is all hockey.

“The first time I met him, he wanted to know about the Trail Smoke Eaters,” said Tambellini, whose dad Addie played with Seth Martin and that legendary senior squad.

“He has a passion for hockey. We need that passion.”

So it’s out to Clareview and the sight of all the recently acquired young talent on the ice together. A new hockey season begins now (that Eskimo football season sucked, didn’t it?) and talk of just how many of these kids the Oilers can possibly play next year.

Can Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi-Svenson all make the team and be rookies together?

“I’d be excited if that happened,” said Tambellini.

“I’m so looking forward to this development camp and seeing Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi-Svensson, Lander, Pitlik ... all these guys on the ice together and over time taking their places on this team.

“Like Paajarvi-Svensson. Magnus has been in the Swedish Elite League playing with men for three years. I’m looking forward to seeing him with players the same age he can grow with. I’m sure that’s exciting for him. It’s exciting for me, too.”

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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