The Edmonton Oilers have inked an important piece of their future.
Yesterday the club announced it has signed Jordan Eberle to a three-year entry-level contract.
The team's first pick - 22nd overall - in the 2008 NHL Entry draft will immediately report to the Oilers AHL affiliate in Springfield for the remainder of the season.
"We're really excited. We look forward to seeing the day where Jordan can suit up for the Oilers, but it's not a race to get there certainly," said Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini.
"He has great puck poise and good vision. He seems to find the areas the great goal scorers find in between the defence, in between forwards, that seem (to be what) you need find in order to score. He's got that great sense, he's got a great hockey mind."
Eberle, 18, led the Regina Pats in scoring this season with 35 goals and 39 assists in 74 games. He also helped Canada win gold at the World Junior championships, scoring the tying goal in the dying seconds in the semifinal against Russia, then netting another goal in the shootout.
"I'm excited, I worked hard to get to this point, but it's just another step to make it to the NHL," Eberle said. "That's my next goal and I'm just here to try and fulfil it.
"I'm going to try and get to Springfield as soon as possible and try and play with them. That will be good, I want to try and get some experience and try to learn the ropes a little bit and get to play more hockey."
Being a junior-aged player, the five-foot-10, 181-pound centre would have to stick with the Oilers next season or else he would have to be sent back down to his Western Hockey League team in Regina.
"I'm not a bigger guy, so I have to get bigger and stronger and that's something I'm committed to doing this summer," Eberle said.
"But with the new rules and the way they play nowadays, I think it makes it easier for a player like me to adjust to this level."