#2 Prospect: Jordan Eberle

Winter 2009: #2
Summer 2010: #3

Winter 2010: #2

I’m going to remember Jordan Eberle as a rookie for a long, long time. He plays the game miles beyond his years, he is extremely creative with the puck and he displays a dogged determination. I thought he’d be a good player, but didn’t see this coming. Beauty player.

Sometimes you get a clear view of a player via scouting reports and the math of hockey. There are aspects of the game that can sometimes slip through the cracks, but rarely do we see a large group of scouting reports miss the mark like they did on Eberle. Here are some pre-draft quotes:

  • Bob McKenzie: A somewhat under-sized centre, Eberle is considered one of the smartest offensive players in the draft. He is a better goal-scorer than a playmaker and is an elusive talent when he has the puck. There are some questions about his speed, but he does have quickness, especially in tight situations and one-on-ones.
  • Central Scouting: Jordan is a slippery scorer with great hands. Jordan is an up-and-down the wing tease in the sense that sometimes he’ll look like he’s just going up and down the wing and you have him slotted as a checker and then he’ll cut in off the wing and use that shot to put his team up a goal.
  • Redline Report: Creative little center has been handling the rough going in the WHL better than we expected and is a productive offensive force every night.
  • Mike Remmerde: Strengths: Great sniper’s touch. Knows how to find scoring chances. Quick hands. Will take a hit to make a play. Weaknesses: Casual player – effort level is never there. Tends to stick to the perimeter. One of the best natural goal scorers in the draft. I’d like him a lot more if he ever broke a sweat. Skating seems alright, but almost never uses what speed he has. I’ll say one thing for him, he’s not scared. I’d rather have a lazy player than a scared one. Summary: Light a fire under him and you might have a 1st/2nd line scorer.
  • International Scouting Services: A highly skilled goal scorer; he has all of the offensive tools. great touch: very good hockey sense, quick release and soft hands. Compares to Brad Boyes.

The picture we get from those reports tell us about an offensive player who is perhaps a little undersized and might have some separation problems based on footspeed. That’s how I’ve framed the issue all along, as represented by this item from last winter’s top 20 prospects post:

  • Eberle is not a complete player. His main negatives are foot speed (only average) and size (5.11, 184) and the Oilers already have too many of those playing pro hockey somewhere. In the “undersized skill forward” category we can safely list all of Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Robert Nilsson, Gilbert Brule, Mike Comrie from the major league team and Linus Omark playing in Russia may be a part of the mix come fall 2010. Eberle is also very likely to have the same learning curve as all these skilled kids have when turning pro in terms of positioning and playing away from the puck. He is regarded as an intelligent player so it should be a matter of learning on the job when he turns pro although it is always a factor for these young men. I’ve read scouting reports that fret over his effort level so that’s also something for us to keep in mind.

So when Eberle arrived I was expected someone from that family. However, Eberle has all kinds of nuance to his game and frankly a more complete skill set than many of the names I mentioned last year. Eberle’s level of play so far suggests he belongs on a different list (along with Sam Gagner) of guys who should be able to help you win the game in more than one area.

Eberle has been splendid. Creating more offense on his own than any of the other rookies, he’s been effective even when he’s slumping offensively. Smart doesn’t begin to describe his positioning, vision and ability to be in the right place at the right time. Eberle’s the kind of player the Habs always used to find: solid in all areas and strong enough offensively to deliver quality each season. As building blocks go, this kid looks like a cornerstone.

In the Taylor Hall post I avoided posting any stats beyond boxcars. For Eberle, I think it’s important to point out just where he ranks in some important categories: first among regular forwards in QUALCOMP while playing with second line quality. The Oilers top 2 lines are all in the black in RELCORSI with Hall leading the way and Eberle in third place. Those top 6 forwards listed there (Hall, Penner, Eberle, Gagner, Horcoff, Hemsky) could one day form a formidable combination. I say that because it’s extremely unlikely to happen. One of the veterans will be on the move soon.

You know those guys that always end up in Detroit? You know the type: good on offense, always back in plenty of time, they seem to have a 6th sense about things? You know those guys?

Eberle is one of them.

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