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September 20, 2013 | 10:21am ET
MacTavish wants core together for long time

Thursday's signing of young star Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to a seven-year, $42 million contract was an easy decision for the Edmonton Oilers, as they hope to have him a core member of their roster for a significantly long time.

Nugent-Hopkins, 20, signed the same kind of contract teammates Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle agreed to.

Eberle is currently an Oiler through the 2018-19 season, Hall is an Oiler until 2019-20 and Nugent-Hopkins is now an Oiler through 2020-21.

"We want to make this experience so rewarding they don't ever want to leave," Oilers GM Craig MacTavish told reporters, as quoted by the Edmonton Sun. "I think there are a lot of good times ahead for these guys. I have a lot of confidence in the character of this group.

"We felt when we did the contracts with Hall and Eberle that we knew we'd be doing a very similar, if not identical, contract with Ryan that we did with those players.

"This is just a reflection of how highly we hold Ryan in our organization."

The Oilers' forward corps is one of the youngest and brightest in the NHL, with Nail Yakupov and Sam Gagner also in the mix.

Today's Oilers are mimicking the Oilers of old, an organization that had the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Glenn Anderson and current Oilers president Kevin Lowe for between seven-to-14 years.

Locking up Nugent-Hopkins, for the Oilers, was a no-brainer.

"We're investing in skill, and almost equally important, we're investing in character." MacTavish said.

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