RE 10-11: Jordan Eberle

Jordan Eberle is more famous than his talent level warrants. That’s not a criticism, it is a statement of fact. Eberle’s pedigree is similar to Marc Pouliot’s: later first round pick who has a chance to be a solid NHL player but isn’t close to a lottery selection.

Eberle’s fame? Enormous. I’m not a believer in “big game” performance but this guy appears to be on a one man mission to make people with that belief look foolish. Jordan Eberle has scored some of the biggest goals in Canada’s world junior history.

What does that tell us about him as an NHL player?

•Boxcars: 57gp, 50-56-106 (WHL); 11gp 6-8-14 (AHL)
•Shots: 24 (AHL)
•Plus Minus: +8 (WHL); -2 (AHL)
•Cap Hit: $1,158, 333 (including bonuses)

  1. What do these numbers tell us? Eberle’s Desjardins NHLE for his WHL season is pretty much identical to his AHL stint. AHL: 82gp, 20-26-46; WHL: 22-24-46. Those are pretty close, and we can be reasonably certain that Eberle would post “in the range” if he received a lot of playing time in offensive situations. That is, however, not a certainty.
  2. How could these numbers be better? Eberle didn’t rip up the WHL like we’d want him to, but we also have to remember that the WHL is an excellent league. He won the WHL MVP award and would have won the scoring championship if he’d played a little more (Eberle lost the scoring championship by one point to Brandon Kozun, who played 8 more games). And his team wasn’t exactly the 1970 Montreal Junior Canadiens.
  3. What will we notice about him? Jordan Eberle has been touched with the “Steve Shutt 6th sense” around the net. It is hard to describe, but the guy always seems to be in the right place at the right time. I don’t know if we can call it positioning, witchcraft or blind luck but it appears to be a skill that Eberle can duplicate against good competition (witness the AHL results and his WHC performance: 4gp, 1-3-4 +2).
  4. That’s a little vague for a math guy. Well, I’m sorry but this fellow does appear to be more than the sum of his parts. He isn’t fast, but he does have a quick release on his shot and is a great passer. He scored a goal at the Worlds that looked so simple you kind of wondered if the goalie had stumbled (point blank, went far side and hit the mark) or missed his net. The replay showed Eberle saw an opening and put it there. He made it look easy. If nothing else, allow me to quote Craig MacTavish on the subject of Jordan Eberle: “he’s just a playmaking machine and he’s going to be very good.”
  5. Anything else? Louise is always talking to me about the big brains and this young man appears to be another in a long line of Oiler kids who probably did well with the nerds. Perhaps that is a reason for his exceptional touch around the net.
  6. If you like him so much, why are his numbers so low compared to Desjardins’ NHLE? Well, I had to divide the playing time up among all of the kids. Add that to the fact that the Oiler kids are going to be hemmed in their own end for long stretches and the estimate looks reasonable. The Oilers aren’t going to be a very good hockey team, and Eberle as a rookie is somewhat helpless to improve the result. He’s going to have a long season unless the Oilers find some F’s and D’s with experience.
  7. Will he be a complete player? I believe he will, certainly in comparison to Hall or MPS (at least initially). At a very young age, Eberle has been exposed to some tremendous coaches and players, and as John Lennon said you are influenced the moment you open your ears. His intelligence married to what looks like a good work ethic should serve as fertile ground.
  8. How much PP time will he get? Less than Hall, less than MPS, maybe less than Omark. I think he might PK though. The roster (as currently constructed) will require a rookie or young pro to play a man short some nights and Eberle is a solid candidate in the group.

Prediction for 2010-11: 72gp, 12-17-29
He’ll impress with his intelligence and skill

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