The Barons are close to having two No. 1 overall draft picks on their roster. Taylor Hall, the first player selected in the 2010 NHL draft, is expected to sign an American Hockey League contract on Thursday.
Given clearance by Edmonton Oilers doctors earlier this week, Hall might make his Barons debut 7 p.m. Friday when they host Houston at the Cox Convention Center.
“It's a relief,” Hall said. “I worked so hard this summer. I haven't played a game in 7½ months. To finally get into a game and try and prove myself is very exciting. I'll be very happy just to be playing again.”
The 20-year-old forward underwent shoulder surgery last spring. When healthy, he's been productive. He scored 95 points in 126 games the past two seasons in Edmonton.
Hall signed a seven-year, $42 million extension with the Oilers two months ago. He's expected to make around $70,000 in the AHL.
“What he (will) add is speed,” said Oklahoma City coach Todd Nelson. “He's a tremendous skater. He's very electrifying. He's exciting to watch. He's fearless. He goes in there hard. He finds ways to score goals.”
Edmonton's No. 1 forward line — young stars the organization is building around — is playing in Oklahoma City during the NHL lockout. But the trio might not play on the same line for another week or two.
With three games in three days this weekend, Nelson won't play the Oilers' young stars three consecutive days.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 overall pick in 2011, probably won't play Friday. Jordan Eberle, a first-round pick in 2009, probably won't play at San Antonio on Sunday. Hall won't play back-to-back days as a precaution.
Hall said there will be an adjustment period playing in the AHL.
“It helped me a lot just to sit in the stands and watch games here,” Hall said. “It's not an easy league by any means. People don't give it as much respect as it should get. I feel I'm prepared. But once I get into the game I'm sure it will be a little quick to me. Hopefully, I get the hang of it right away.”
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