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Oilers get a first-hand look at their future

Jul 7, 2010, 9:45 AM EDT

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taylorhall3.jpgA lot of teams are holding their development camps to get a look at the prospects they’ve been harvesting through the draft the last few years. One place that is getting a lot of attention from its own fans is Edmonton and with good reason. With this year’s top pick Taylor Hall, Canadian junior hockey star Jordan Eberle and Swedish phenom Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson there’s a lot of reason to have hope for the not-so distant future of a once proud franchise and the fans and media in Edmonton know it as David Staples of the Edmonton Journal shares.

As fellow fan, Bruce McCurdy of Copper & Blue, who watched over the drills with me, put it, “I’ve been following these names as lines on a screen for a long time. I wanted to see them. This is the nucleus of the new Oilers. I’m not sure that the 20 guys out there on the ice aren’t more important for the future of the team than the 20 guys who finished the season with the Oilers. This is a turning of the page.”

It’s hard not to get excited about seeing the fruits of past drafts all coming together and all with the distinct possibility of starting next season in the NHL. Hall most certainly will be in Edmonton, and with Paajarvi and Eberle both showing their abilities on the ice at the World Junior Championships and IIHF World Championships this past year, there’s not a lot more for them to prove to show that they’re NHL-ready. As for Tom Renney, the new coach of the Oilers and the guy with the task of managing (or mismanaging) three potential stars, he’s perhaps more excited than the fans are although he’s being sensible with his approach.

“What I’m OK with is putting the best team on the ice we can,” Renney said when asked if all three could make the team this season. “Whoever those spots go to, so be it. We might have more than three guys for that matter. Who’s to say? I don’t know.

“We can project until we’re blue in the face as to who might be here, but there’s a process involved. The beauty of it is nobody knows that better than those three kids.”

Hope is a fun, yet perilous, thing when you’re a fan of a team that’s missed the playoffs four years straight and managed to be, by far, the worst team in the NHL last year. The amount of talent in those three players is astounding but there’s even a handful more of guys who could turn out to be NHL players as well. Whether Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi turn out in Edmonton this year could be a big draw for the Oilers but getting them to the NHL when they’re most ready to be there and big players is more important. That said, the Oilers talent ranks have thinned out enough so that having all three start in the NHL might actually be the best thing to happen to the franchise.

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