Training Camp Hopeful #3: Jordan Eberle

Despite what some will say, the Oilers don’t often fast track their draft picks. In this decade, only Ales Hemsky (at age 19) and Sam Gagner (straight out of the draft) made the team before graduation day. The two elevations are positively minor compared to the mid-90′s when players like Boyd Devereaux, Jason Bonsignore and Steve Kelly (along with Ryan Smyth) were fast tracked by the team’s management. In fact, a simple way to look at the Oilers and fast tracking is this: if they’re lottery picks Edmonton finds a spot on the roster for them. The only exception to that rule was Hemsky.

There are some signs this summer that a “perfect storm” may be forming with regard to young Jordan Eberle. The kid is a shooter, something the team needs badly. He’s as famous in his own way as Gagner or Hemsky were when they made the grade, and he is at least somewhat known to the team’s new head coach.

Plus, the Edmonton Oilers always like to have a story in training camp to sell the fanbase. It looks like much of this fall`s sports pages will be filled with stories about the “new arena and downtown Vegas” and some of that story could be very negative and painful to the organization. Jordan Eberle might be a nice distraction.

  • How did they get him? 1st rd pick in 2008, a selection that looks very good at this point in time. Although forwards taken right after him (Nemisz, Ennis) are progressing well Eberle had a solid junior season, became a national calibre hero at the WJ`s and then topped it off with a splendid AHL stint.
  • What is his style? Offensive winger, shooter and a good puck handler and passer. Eberle lists Martin St. Louis as his favorite player because they play similar styles. That would be nice. I can`t find his WHL shots-on-goal totals which is maddening. Very smart, lightning hands. He could be an exceptional scorer. He scored 105 goals in 197 WHL games and that`s a good league, and he put up a point-per-game in a late season AHL audition.
  • What are his negatives? Size and his foot speed isn`t blazing. On a team filled with trolls, this is a factor moving forward. Edmonton is going to need a trade for someone like Drew Stafford in the next year or so, but we`ve been saying that for three years now. Anyway, Eberle isn`t that guy, he`s another undersized skill winger.
  • Why wasn’t he more dominant in junior? Well he did play well, but the team sucked wind after the new year. They were really terrible, and we can point the finger at Eberle a little but his splits weren’t awful or anything. In his first 30 games, Eberle went 20-19-39 +1 and in the final 31 games he went 15-20-35 -5. He led his team in goals and points. The one poor stretch was the final 20 games (he went 9-12-21) when his +/- was a horrendous -9.
  • Was he really that good in Springfield? Jonathan Willis is doing some amazing stuff on his various sites and yesterday posted a timely item on the Falcons. It shows Eberle was facing subpar opposition so we need to view his performance in that light. However, it’s also true he was posting some good numbers in a pro league at age 18.
  • Where does he fit on the depth chart? Way down. If we assume he’s a RW, then there’s one job to win: 2line right-winger. The depth chart (at a guess) is Hemsky, Nilsson, Pisani, Stortini, Ryan Stone (or Liam Reddox). Since he can’t play in the AHL there’s no need to list that bunch, so clearly Eberle needs to bump Nilsson (and the others who might end up being 2line RW) in order to make the big team.
  • Is that possible? These are the Edmonton Oilers, anything is possible.
  • Is it probable? No. The most likely plan (if the Oilers are indeed interested in getting to the post-season) is to add a veteran forward and to hold back the water on all forward prospects. The prudent move is to send Jordan Eberle back to the Queen City to score 50 goals and score more famous junior goals.
  • What does the organization think of him? They love him. There’s an article every 10 minutes on oilers.com and that World Junior goal makes him pure Canadiana.
  • How will we know if they’re seriously thinking about him as an NHL option? Kevin Lowe, Kevin Prendergast or Steve Tambellini will say something like “when Pat first asked about keeping him I thought he was joking, but with the way he’s performed in the last two pre-season games I don’t know that we can send him back!”

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