Rookie Camp: Jordan Eberle Watch

Jonathan Willis
September 08 2009 01:30PM

With the long weekend behind us, preparations for the upcoming season are beginning in earnest. For the Oilers, right now the focus is on the prospects attending the team’s rookie camp.

I know that my favourite feature of the Oilers’ official site is the interview footage with the players and coaches, and they’ve done a fine job of that so far through rookie camp, with players like Jordan Eberle, Alex Plante, Philippe Cornet, and Brett Breitkreuz all doing interviews. The theme in a lot of these conversations was what the players need to work on, and in that respect it was a real pleasure to watch Jordan Eberle’s interview.

Going right back to draft day, there were three things that were frequently highlighted in scouting reports as possible negatives for Jordan Eberle: size, speed, and effort level. Based on his comments at camp, Eberle’s well aware of what he needs to work on:

I don’t think I gained as much weight as I wanted to, but I definitely feel a lot stronger and faster, and that’s the main thing I took out of [last year]. As far as skating-wise, I worked really hard on my skating with Steve [Serdachny] and definitely brought that up.

Eberle can’t do anything about his height, but the fact that he’s working on gaining weight is a positive. That’s one of the key reasons I don’t think Eberle will stick with the Oilers out of camp, actually: with very few exceptions, physical maturity is a must for NHL players, and Eberle’s probably better served getting stronger back in junior where he won’t be lining up against the big players that NHL teams covet.

I also like how Eberle doesn’t hide the fact that he would have liked to gain more weight, and that honesty gives more credence to his evaluation of his skating. The Oilers like drafting intelligent players, and Eberle (a scholastic player of the year in junior) seems to fit that mold and also seems blessed with self-awareness. It’s going to be fun following him this season, wherever he plays.

Another reason that I’m fairly confident that Eberle will be returned to junior is a comment made by Tom Renney yesterday. It’s hard not to assume that he was talking about Jordan Eberle when he told the media this:

Without a doubt - keep your expectations realistic. That goes hand in hand with the organizations as well. I think the biggest mistake of all is organizations that really project a player as being in the starting lineup on opening night, and that’s very dangerous.

It remains to be seen if the Oilers’ organization is going to become more dedicated to not rushing their prospects, but so far it seems as if that’s the direction Steve Tambellini wants to go; personally, I think it’s a very good idea.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#101 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 04:50PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Rediculous statement. Last year he was a 3.6 million dollar player and he more then earned it. This year he is a 5.5 million dollar player, lets see if he earns it. He’s in the wrong half of his career to start getting better, dont you think?

I think he's more then capable of putting 2/3 seasons on this next contract at the same .3 - .4GPG .9 - .95PPG pace that he's been on 2 of the last 4 years

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#102 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 05:12PM
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@ Ogden Brother: We'll be forced to find out because no GM in the league would take him.

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#103 Cam
September 09 2009, 05:45PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

Horcoff is not traded since he is the largest, most effective centre on the Oilers. You can play him in any situation against any opposition.

Statements like "no GM in the league would take him." are downright ridiculous. That's what everyone said about Gomez and if that contract can be traded, then any contract can be traded. Especially for a guy like Horc.

Countless examples of similar payment for similar performance have been portrayed. Stats of all kinds showing Horcoff's effectiveness, comparisons to other first line centres, and also the context in which the contract was given. Even with all of that there is a crowd of people willing to stomp on him every chance they get, as your statement clearly shows.

5.5 mil may be a bit of overpayment considering his play last year, but it isn't stupid considering what his top end is (note: ALL STAR).

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#104 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 06:06PM
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Cam wrote:

Statements like “no GM in the league would take him.” are downright ridiculous.

These arguments are used against me constantly, fair is fair, I will use them in turn.

Horc wont be traded because no one will take him AND the Oilers are weak down the middle, its not one or the other. Both statements are right.

Cam wrote:

5.5 mil may be a bit of overpayment considering his play last year, but it isn’t stupid considering what his top end is (note: ALL STAR).

What his top end WAS, WAS. That was pre-shoulder injury. He hasnt proven that he can be the same he was for that one 50 game stretch, I'm not counting on him returning to form.

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#105 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 07:16PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: We’ll be forced to find out because no GM in the league would take him.

Good lord.

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#106 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 07:17PM
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Cam wrote:

@ Archaeologuy: Horcoff is not traded since he is the largest, most effective centre on the Oilers. You can play him in any situation against any opposition. Statements like “no GM in the league would take him.” are downright ridiculous. That’s what everyone said about Gomez and if that contract can be traded, then any contract can be traded. Especially for a guy like Horc. Countless examples of similar payment for similar performance have been portrayed. Stats of all kinds showing Horcoff’s effectiveness, comparisons to other first line centres, and also the context in which the contract was given. Even with all of that there is a crowd of people willing to stomp on him every chance they get, as your statement clearly shows. 5.5 mil may be a bit of overpayment considering his play last year, but it isn’t stupid considering what his top end is (note: ALL STAR).

Bingo.

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#107 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 07:18PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Cam wrote: Statements like “no GM in the league would take him.” are downright ridiculous. These arguments are used against me constantly, fair is fair, I will use them in turn. Horc wont be traded because no one will take him AND the Oilers are weak down the middle, its not one or the other. Both statements are right. blockquote> You sure like to state opinion as fact.
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#108 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 07:19PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

What his top end WAS, WAS. That was pre-shoulder injury. He hasnt proven that he can be the same he was for that one 50 game stretch, I’m not counting on him returning to form.

two of the last four seasons he's been at the .9PPG+ pace... two. Not 50 games, 125 games.

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#109 Chris
September 09 2009, 08:23PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

We’ll be forced to find out because no GM in the league would take him.

Wow. You have the phone numbers of all 29 other GMs? You can anticipate the future CBA, and where the cap will be, each of the next six years? You also know the names of the men who will become GM's over the next six years? Your blind hatred of all things Horcoff is making you look silly. Horcoff is a good player. Accept it.

Or is it just the money? Let it go. Horcoff has paid his dues: He has risen through the ranks, centered the first line that nearly won a cup, been a model of reliability... Sweet Lord, the man intentionally blocked a shot with his face to perserve a playoff win for cryin out loud! (Would Lupul do that?) Horcoff's contract reflects the value the organization places on him. Period. You can disagree about his level of importance, but you would be a fool to deny that he is important. Not everyone on your team is going to be working on their entry level, or RFA level contracts... Certain core guys on the brink of UFA eligibility need to be extended: and when you look at the Oiler organizational depth at center, Horcoff was one of those guys. In fact, when you consider the gong show of left wing: a strong case could be made that Lowe should have signed Smyth for the 26M he was after. (BTW, did you consider Smyth's 30M contract untradeable also?)

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#110 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 08:29PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

You sure like to state opinion as fact.

Kind of like:

Ogden Brother wrote:

Thier isn’t a GM in the league that would take Lupul over Horc, even at 1.25 more.

Come on man, you guys are taking shots at me for saying Lupul is a decent player who isnt a bust. Just give it up, its ok to say that Lupul is a good player who wasnt used to maximise his skill set.

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#111 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 08:41PM
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Chris wrote:

Wow. You have the phone numbers of all 29 other GMs?

See my post above regarding how those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Chris wrote:

Horcoff is a good player. Accept it.

I didnt even bring Horc up AND all i said was that he wasnt living up to the expectations of a 5.5 million dollar player. May I be struck with lightning if that isnt true. You are arguing with things I said months ago, not today. Relax. I have barely mentioned Horc and only after it was thrown in my face.

Chris wrote:

(BTW, did you consider Smyth’s 30M contract untradeable also?)

Smyth has been consistently better than Horc over his whole career, I would have said that it wasnt probable that it was possible.

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#112 Cam
September 09 2009, 09:00PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Come on man, you guys are taking shots at me for saying Lupul is a decent player who isnt a bust. Just give it up, its ok to say that Lupul is a good player who wasnt used to maximise his skill set.

Actually I kind of agree with you there. Lupul is a good second line guy and was put into a first line role here. He isn't great against tough competition, so why did he get played that way. Totally misused in my opinion.

Having said that... he is a guy I would rather he be playing elsewhere. I want guys that block pucks with their FACE. Right Nilsson?

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#113 Chris
September 09 2009, 09:27PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

You didn't write: With most teams up against the cap Horcoff's contract may be hard to move... or: If Horcoff were to be traded, the Oilers would have to take significant salary back...

You wrote: Archaeologuy wrote:

We’ll be forced to find out because no GM in the league would take him.

Ridiculous. There is no spinning this, shading it, or backpedaling from it. What you wrote: was ridiculous!

Then you wrote this: Archaeologuy wrote:

I didnt even bring Horc up AND all i said was that he wasnt living up to the expectations of a 5.5 million dollar player. May I be struck with lightning if that isnt true. You are arguing with things I said months ago, not today. Relax. I have barely mentioned Horc and only after it was thrown in my face.

WTF? We were responding to post #102! You didn't initally bring up Horc? Who cares! You wrote post #102. We were berrating you for Post #102! That post is "troll like" in it's stupidity... If I didn't already know you from this site: I wouldn't have bothered to respond.

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#114 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 10:35PM
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Chris wrote:

That post is “troll like” in it’s stupidity…

Because it's SOOOOOOOOOO stupid to suggest that GMs in the league would rather stick bamboo shoots in their eyes than trade for Shawn Horcoff and his 5.5 million dollars in the current Salary Cap reality.

I dont have to say that "With most teams up against the cap Horcoff’s contract may be hard to move… or: If Horcoff were to be traded, the Oilers would have to take significant salary back…" because in the end it still means the Oilers will be forced to find out if Horc can bounce back. I dont understand why it offends you to say that the Oilers are stuck with Horcoff whether they like it or not.

What you're berating is my lack of faith that Horcoff will ever again be an All-Star calibre player. I think Eric Daze has a better chance at becoming an All-Star again. So keep getting angry at me for not clapping if I believe in fairies and cheering Horcoff into superstardom. I dont think its in him. Get over this. I would love to be wrong about Horc, I want him to do well, I just dont think he will. I'm sorry that you dont like it when people just say what they mean instead of dancing around the subject.

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#115 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 11:02PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: You sure like to state opinion as fact. Kind of like: Ogden Brother wrote: Thier isn’t a GM in the league that would take Lupul over Horc, even at 1.25 more. Come on man, you guys are taking shots at me for saying Lupul is a decent player who isnt a bust. Just give it up, its ok to say that Lupul is a good player who wasnt used to maximise his skill set.

Your right, I can't prove that either. However GM's taking Horc over Lupul is certainly more resonable then no GM's being willing to trade for Horc.

Also, my issue wasn't that you saying Lupul is a decent player, because I think he is. He's a competent 2nd liner if his two linemates are solid two way players (same way I view Nilsson). My issue (and from the posts I would assume Chris's as well) is your constant praise of players that score X amount (usually 20-25 range) but contribute basically nothing on top of the goals and your constant bashing of players that score amount Y (usually 15 - 20 range) but bring multiple benifits away from putting pucks in the net.

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#116 Archaeologuy
September 10 2009, 09:06AM
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@ Ogden Brother: I dont bash the 15-20 goal guys for not scoring more. I bash the 25-30 guys for scoring 15-20. Horc can bring all kinds of benefits but I still firmly believe that the primary role of the first line is to produce offensively. That's how i break down roles. Top 2 lines score, bottom two crash-bang and shut-down. Now having your best offensive guys be your best defensive guys is a great luxury but the job of the #1 line isnt to be the shutdown line, so scoring 15-20 goals doesnt cut the mustard IMO. It certaintly hasnt worked out well for the Oilers over the last 3 years to have the best defensive center on the top line.

I praise those 20+ goal scorers because they have an important role on every playoff team, but we havent seen a playoff team around here for so long that I think people are forgetting how important they are.

This whole mess started on page 2, I think, when all i said was that if Eberle turned into a Lupul type player he wouldnt be a bust. Teams need guys who can produce points on their top lines. The venom i spew towards Horc every once in a while was because he kept goofing on so many offensive opportunities last year that it seemed he was hurting the 1st line's primary objective. Last year his duties were so many that he couldnt perform on the 1st line the way he needed to and it hurt the club. Thats my opinion, i stand by it, i dont care if it pisses anyone off.

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#117 King Mob
September 10 2009, 10:19AM
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cat fight!

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#118 Archaeologuy
September 10 2009, 11:56AM
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@ King Mob: thats what this feels like, minus the awesomeness of a real cat fight.

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