Today, Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall signed his first American Hockey League contract.
Tomorrow, he’ll be playing.
That’s the word out of Oklahoma City after Hall was medically cleared from injured reserve, meaning he’s officially a locked-out NHL player — and officially ready to join the AHL.
Hall will debut for the Barons on Friday against the Houston Aeros, likely alongside center Chris VandeVelde and RW Magnus Paajarvi.
If you’re wondering why OKC isn’t loading up Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle on the same line, here’s Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal to explain:
VandeVelde, who may have surpassed Anton Lander in the Oilers’ organizational chart at centre because he’s got more offensive juice, and Paajarvi played together in the AHL playoffs last spring along with Teemu Hartikainen. It was the Barons’ most productive unit, but the burly Hartikainen will be with Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle against the Minnesota Wild affiliate.
Hall feels he’s been away from game action for too long to try centre, at least for now. He’s more comfortable on the wing after two NHL seasons there, so that’s where he’ll be. And, with the chemistry of Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle and Hartikainen for much of the first three weeks of the AHL season, farm team coach Todd Nelson will stick with that line.
Hartikainen will almost certainly make the Oilers when the NHL lockout ends.
Matheson also notes that insurance on Hall’s seven-year, $42 million extension has been taken care of — according to player agent Paul Krepelka.