SUN Hockey Pool

Stoll signs!

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

The Edmonton Oilers avoided another salary arbitration hearing.

Yesterday the Oilers came to terms with centre Jarret Stoll on a two-year deal worth $2.2 million per season.

It's the second time in a week the Oilers have come to terms with a restricted free agent to avoid a hearing.

Last week the Oilers came to terms with centre Shawn Horcoff on a three-year deal.

"We're pleased to have him under contract," said Oilers assistant general manager Scott Howson.

"He's one of our major players. He's probably developing a little bit faster than we've anticipated, and he's become a key member of our team."

Stoll finished third in team scoring last season with 22 goals and 46 assists for 68 point in 82 games.

DRAFTED BY FLAMES

During the playoffs, he added four goals and six assists in 10 games.

The six-foot-one, 215-pound, 24-year-old from Melville, Saskatchewan has played two seasons with the Oilers. He also played with the Edmonton Roadrunners during the 2004-2005 lockout season.

"I'm very excited to get it done, that way I can focus on the new season," Stoll said on the phone from Cranbrook, B.C., "I'm glad both sides were able to come to an agreement."

Originally drafted by the Calgary Flames in 2000, Stoll was taken by the Oilers with their third pick (36th overall) in the 2002 draft, after he was unable to come to terms with Calgary.

Stoll, a restricted free agent, was scheduled to have a salary arbitration hearing on Monday.

"I never thought we were going to get to that point," said Stoll. "I didn't make any plans to go to Toronto (for the hearing). I knew both sides were close and that we would come to an agreement."

"We were prepared to go to arbitration," said Howson. "But it's always better to avoid it if you can. In this case both sides were very close, the numbers were comparable."

With the deal, the Oilers also locked up one of the best face-off men in the league for the next two years.

Stoll led the Oilers and was fifth in the NHL with a 56.7 winning percentage in the face-off circle last season.

He set a team record for face-off efficiency in one game by winning 21 of 22 draws against Vancouver in February. "I'm really excited about the season," Stoll said. "I think we're going to have a really good team. We got a good, solid core of guys coming back and we got some really good new additions."

Like all the Oilers, expectations on Stoll and the team are going to be higher this year than they were last season.

The former Memorial Cup winner with the Kootenay Ice is up for the challenge.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

"You have to continually be pushing yourself," he said. "Myself, I would like to contribute more offensively next season and get better defensively as well. There are always going to be expectations on this team whether we miss the playoff or make it to the Stanley Cup final."

NOTES ... Along with Stoll, the Oilers also signed defenceman Tom Gilbert from the University of Wisconsin. The six-foot-three, 210-pound Bloomington, Minnesota native had 12 goals and 19 assists in 43 games last season, leading the Badgers to an NCAA championship.

"He's a good puck-moving, two-way defenceman," said Howson. "He had an outstanding year with Wisconsin. He scored the winning goal in the last game."

Gilbert, 23, was acquired from Colorado in 2004 in exchange for goaltender Tommy Salo.

"We're really happy to have him," Howson said. "We'll have to see how he does in camp. Considering our situation on defence - we have a really young defence - he's got a chance to make the team."


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