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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#51 Joey Moss
September 08 2009, 08:05PM
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Eberle seems intelligent and sincere because he hasn't been 'molded' by the PR staff at the Oil and the PA yet. Just give him time and he may be spewing the same cliched and canned answers as everyone. It takes a rare breed to see through that kind of media-insincerity and speak your mind, it would be nice if this kid turned out to be one of those.

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#52 RossCreek
September 08 2009, 08:19PM
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patty wrote: Bob said that someone familiar to the station would guest-host once in a while during road trips, but they’re still ‘working out the details’. RossCreek wrote: -Brownlee -Spector -Bryn ?? Robin Brownlee wrote: It’s not me.

Hmmm... I wonder who Bob's guest-host will be. Robin has flat out denied himself. Would Bob return the favor to Bryn and would he take it? Would he turn to his former full-time co-host Spector? Or former producer Corey Graham? How about good buddy John Sexsmith? Would he be someone "familiar with the station"?

On another note... co-hosts: TSN's Ryan Rishaugh Sportsnet's Mark Spector The Journal's Dan Barnes The Sun's Rob Tychkowski OilersNation's Robin Brownlee

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#53 Robin Brownlee
September 08 2009, 08:29PM
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@ RossCreek: Susan Boyle will be Britain's entrant in the Miss Universe contest before Rob T co-hosts with Bob.

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#54 PunjabiOil
September 08 2009, 08:39PM
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I also subscribe to the theory that an NHL entity should demonstrate patience in bringing up their prospects.

I know Willis and a few other numbers guys have questioned Eberle's ceiling. While it's true his numbers in Regina last year weren't considerably better than his 17 year old, the fact he played reasonably well at the WJC (though was somewhat of a floater in some games), and the fact that he put an impressive PPG in 9 games (limited samplze size, I know) in the AHL may be indicative there is strong upside.

Working on weaknesses is something I like to see in a prospect as opposed to the alternative [See Schremp, Rob].

The homer in me says Eberle could become a Daniel Briere or a Scott Gomez. The realistic side of me tells me he's going to be the next Joffrey "Zoolander" Lupul.

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#55 Tedley
September 08 2009, 08:45PM
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On that note, whatever happened to Ken Reid? Dude could always make me laugh, last I heard he went out East??

The Oil have to let Eberle succeed and practice the skills that make him a top prospect, at Junior and perhaps AHL levels. He probably isn't physically built to battle real men yet, and if he was he would NOT be sheltered on this team.

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#56 RossCreek
September 08 2009, 08:59PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

@ RossCreek: Susan Boyle will be Britain’s entrant in the Miss Universe contest before Rob T co-hosts with Bob.

LOL. Ok... I sense a story there... anything for public consumption?

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#57 Jonathan Willis
September 08 2009, 09:06PM
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@ PunjabiOil:

In fairness, it isn't just guys like me questioning the kid's ceiling; over the years real live NHL scouts have as well. It was Remmerde after all who talked about his effort level as a serious negative.

I'm just a little more apt to heed that sort of critique than the majority of the fanbase.

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#58 Archaeologuy
September 08 2009, 09:32PM
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PunjabiOil wrote:

The realistic side of me tells me he’s going to be the next Joffrey “Zoolander” Lupul.

A 6'1" 200 pound 3 time 20+ goal scorer who was mis-handled by Craig MacTavish? Yeah, I sure hope he never turns out like that guy.

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#59 Jonathan Willis
September 08 2009, 09:57PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

I sure hope you were being sarcastic.

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#60 Dallas
September 08 2009, 10:02PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

PunjabiOil wrote: The realistic side of me tells me he’s going to be the next Joffrey “Zoolander” Lupul. A 6′1″ 200 pound 3 time 20+ goal scorer who was mis-handled by Craig MacTavish? Yeah, I sure hope he never turns out like that guy.

I second that Lupul is a pretty good player who should still be here. We should also have had Perry on this team DAMN YOU LOWE DAMN YOU what were you thinking

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#61 Dallas
September 08 2009, 10:03PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Why?

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#62 RossCreek
September 08 2009, 10:09PM
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Rookie's skate @ Millenium Place tomorrow morning? 9:30? Anyone going? See ya there.

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#63 Archaeologuy
September 08 2009, 10:28PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Archaeologuy wrote:

A 6′1″ 200 pound 3 time 20+ goal scorer who was mis-handled by Craig MacTavish? ~Yeah, I sure hope he never turns out like that guy.~

Now it is fixed with appropriate Sarcasm markers. I assume that's what you hoped I was being sarcastic about.

Lupul is a good player and the Oilers made a mistake giving up on him so quickly. If Eberle turns into a consistant twenty something goal scorer I wouldnt call him a bust.

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#64 PunjabiOil
September 09 2009, 12:13AM
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The problem with Lupul is that he's a complimentary player. Total fringe, perimeter player. He's also a guy who is going to get paid a premium for his ability to score goals, but not do enough to help his team win hockey games. He's been +2, +1 in his two years in Philadelphia despite haivng weaker opposition.

I do agree MacT didn't extract maximum value from him. Then again, Lupul was sulking all year, openly implying in the local papers how he'd like to be back in Anaheim, etc. Bob Stauffer noted that the Oilers discussed with Joffrey at the end of the season that they'd like him to portray more committment to the City of Edmonton, so Joffrey ended up buying a house. A few weeks later he was traded. It's too bad it didn't work out, local boy and all.

Eberle has some similar flaws in his game. Noted as a guy who doesn't possess strong foot speed, and questionable committment to the defensive side of the game. He's a shooter, no question, but the nets become shorter and the pads bigger at the NHL. If you can't play on both sides of the rink, you'll be having a folköl in Sweden in a pub with Bobby Schremp.

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#65 DaGongshow
September 09 2009, 12:55AM
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@ Joey Moss: Joey Moss wrote:

Eberle seems intelligent and sincere because he hasn’t been ‘molded’ by the PR staff at the Oil and the PA yet. Just give him time and he may be spewing the same cliched and canned answers as everyone. It takes a rare breed to see through that kind of media-insincerity and speak your mind, it would be nice if this kid turned out to be one of those.

LOL, I think they brainwash them in the PA once a player makes the NHL full time. Once they get the ol' You can go find a permanent place to live and move outta the Hotel, they are off to the Brainwash chair. I was excited to go for dinner awhile back with two kids I coached who are playing in the NHL now and it felt like a hockey interview at times. The young enthusiastic Teenager's who loved the game of hockey were dead. Both referred to hockey as "a business".......my heart sank!

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#66 PunjabiOil
September 09 2009, 04:17AM
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Shameless self promotion

http://punjabsoil.blogspot.com/2009/09/daryl-katz-pitches-offer-to-sharks.html

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#67 oilguyry
September 09 2009, 07:04AM
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Maybe bob will bring JW on to co host

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#68 Jonathan Willis
September 09 2009, 08:07AM
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@ Archaeologuy: @ Dallas:

Lupul's a one-dimensional player. You have to like his offense, but that's all he brings to the table.

Watching him and watching Hemsky is a fun contrast, because Hemsky goes to the corners, goes into traffic, etc. Lupul seems to avoid that stuff like the plague. It's too bad, because with his hands and his frame he could really be something else, but he's indifferent defensively and I have never - never - been less disappointed with a guy's effort level in the NHL.

Obviously, if Eberle turns into a 25-goal scorer like Lupul he'll be a win for the Oilers, but I'd much rather see him turn into a guy who can handle traffic and play in all three zones.

It seems like goal totals are all that matter when players are getting contracts, but they aren't when it comes to winning.

Then again, I saw Lupul bad.

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#69 Cam
September 09 2009, 08:15AM
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kurri_17 wrote:

Umm, avg data doesn’t mean anything. We have at least two outliers. Try throwing together a median and avg/median size of top 6 forwards or a graph showing this. The Oilers are small on offense where it counts

So does every other team. If I take off the oilers biggest guy then how is that a comparison. If I take off Boogard for the Wild then where does that leave the Wild? I left Reddox on the Oilers and he probably won't even play this year.

I could take the biggest and smallest guys out of every calculation and I bet the numbers would flush out the same. We have no boogard skewing our numbers.

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#70 Bob Cob
September 09 2009, 08:22AM
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Cam wrote:

We have no boogard skewing our numbers.

What about MacIntyre?

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#71 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 08:43AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Archaeologuy: @ Dallas: Lupul’s a one-dimensional player. You have to like his offense, but that’s all he brings to the table. Watching him and watching Hemsky is a fun contrast, because Hemsky goes to the corners, goes into traffic, etc. Lupul seems to avoid that stuff like the plague. It’s too bad, because with his hands and his frame he could really be something else, but he’s indifferent defensively and I have never – never – been less disappointed with a guy’s effort level in the NHL. Obviously, if Eberle turns into a 25-goal scorer like Lupul he’ll be a win for the Oilers, but I’d much rather see him turn into a guy who can handle traffic and play in all three zones. It seems like goal totals are all that matter when players are getting contracts, but they aren’t when it comes to winning. Then again, I saw Lupul bad.

He had the same rep in Philly too, he had a nice honeymoon first season, but was from time to time demoted to the fourth line in year 2 because over effort/attitude issues.

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#72 Chris.
September 09 2009, 08:49AM
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@ Archaeologuy:

You love every twenty goal guy, just because he's a twenty goal guy...

Lupul is garbage. Period. Burke knew it when he bilked Lowe for Pronger. Lowe thought he was screwing Holmgren and Holmgren thought he was screwing Lowe when they swapped Lupul for Pitkanen... Some guys (Lupul and Pitkanaen) have the uncanny and almost inexplicable ability to put up points, while otherwise contributing nothing to a team effort. I know it takes points to win games... but I also know that plenty of other players can slot in, replace most of those points, and actually help your team win games.

If you were to take two completely equal lineups and insert three Pisani's onto one team, and three Lupul's on the other: you'll have one team that looks good on paper and another team that looks good on the ice. Guess which one is which.

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#73 Fish
September 09 2009, 08:54AM
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PunjabiOil wrote:

Shameless self promotion http://punjabsoil.blogspot.com/2009/09/daryl-katz-pitches-offer-to-sharks.html

Read it,but ??????. Not real funny.

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#74 patty
September 09 2009, 09:04AM
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Lupul isn't garbage by any means, he's just not the kind of player who will help win a close game too often (except for that one time when ge scored all 4 goals in the playoffs for the ducks).

@ bingofuel:

Shameless self promotion http://punjabsoil.blogspot.com/2009/09/daryl-katz-pitches-offer-to-sharks.html

Is this spam allowed? Maybe the new version can have an ignore or bury feature for bad comments, please.

@ PunjabiOil: There's an option to enter your website when you make a comment, a built-in 'shameless self promotion' option. At the minimum, make it good next time.

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#75 Chris.
September 09 2009, 09:11AM
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patty wrote:

Lupul isn’t garbage by any means, he’s just not the kind of player who will help win a close game too often

Those kind of players are garbage.

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#76 bingofuel
September 09 2009, 09:15AM
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@ patty:

PunjabiOil is an old friend of the Nation, so I let it slide. I figured I'd allow commenters like you and Fish to make the call on whether or not it was good content. You have. I look forward to other comments. :)

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#77 patty
September 09 2009, 09:24AM
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@ bingofuel: Fair enough. I mostly remember PJO from his days of stirring the pot at HF. Always entertaining. Here's another comment: Hy F**king RSS reader still doesn't work for 'global' article comment feeds. Any suggested programs?

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#78 bingofuel
September 09 2009, 09:32AM
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@ patty:

I use Google Reader for the non-comments RSS. I've never used the comments RSS feed. Do me a favour and email oilersnation@gmail.com and let me know some more detail about the problem.

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#79 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 09:57AM
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Chris. wrote:

You love every twenty goal guy, just because he’s a twenty goal guy…

Forgive me for thinking that a smurf like Eberle might only ever be an offensive player.

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#80 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 09:57AM
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Chris. wrote:

@ Archaeologuy: You love every twenty goal guy, just because he’s a twenty goal guy… Lupul is garbage. Period. Burke knew it when he bilked Lowe for Pronger. Lowe thought he was screwing Holmgren and Holmgren thought he was screwing Lowe when they swapped Lupul for Pitkanen… Some guys (Lupul and Pitkanaen) have the uncanny and almost inexplicable ability to put up points, while otherwise contributing nothing to a team effort. I know it takes points to win games… but I also know that plenty of other players can slot in, replace most of those points, and actually help your team win games. If you were to take two completely equal lineups and insert three Pisani’s onto one team, and three Lupul’s on the other: you’ll have one team that looks good on paper and another team that looks good on the ice. Guess which one is which.

Bingo.

Also, O'sully > Lupul

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#81 Cam
September 09 2009, 10:26AM
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Cam wrote:

We have no boogard skewing our numbers. blockquote> Bob Cob wrote:
What about MacIntyre?
He's not nearly as big as Boogard, but every team has a bruiser or two. Essentially what I am reading is: "the stats don't say we are small because we have some big guys in the line up - do the average without those guys." If I take all our big guys out of the calculations (Zach, Steve, Sheldon, Dustin and Ethan), then for sure our stats will show the Oilers as being small. But then our stats won't be correct.
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#82 Cam
September 09 2009, 10:28AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

O’sully > Lupul

Amen. I agree.

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#83 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 10:29AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

O’sully > Lupul

Based on what you saw or what you want it to be?

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#84 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 10:33AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: O’sully > Lupul Based on what you saw or what you want it to be?

Saw.

O'sully will score you 5-7 less goals, but he'll give you 5X's the benifit in every other aspect.

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#85 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 10:55AM
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@ Ogden Brother: In theory. I was not at all impressed with O'Sully

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#86 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 11:01AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: In theory. I was not at all impressed with O’Sully

Ya I noticed, you've lumped him in with Nilsson many times. For some reason you want to judge him off of 19 games rather then the 200 he's played.

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#87 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 11:24AM
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@ Ogden Brother: I'm open to change my mind, but it will be based on his actions not the hope that he'll be better than he has been.

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#88 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 11:31AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: I’m open to change my mind, but it will be based on his actions not the hope that he’ll be better than he has been.

He "has been" a very effective 2nd liner who is competent at both ends of the ice and can PK to boot. Like I said, the mans played 200+ games and you want to judge him on 19 of them.

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#89 Chris.
September 09 2009, 11:37AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Forgive me for thinking that a smurf like Eberle might only ever be an offensive player.

I'm not sure what you mean...

I accused you of loving Lupul simply because he's a twenty goal guy... I wasn't referencing Eberle at all. You blame MacT for "mis-handling" Lupul...If anything, MacT is guilty of trying too hard to find a use for another bad Klowe aquisition. Don't let the stat sheet blind you to the fact that aside from having (As Lowe put it) "one shot scoring ability", Lupul is a floater, a defensive liability, and an excuse maker. I wish someone in the organization would competently scout these guys before trading for them.

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#90 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 11:58AM
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Chris. wrote:

I wasn’t referencing Eberle at all.

The whole conversation started when i said that if Eberle turned into a lupul he wouldnt exactly be a bust.

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#91 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 12:04PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Chris. wrote: I wasn’t referencing Eberle at all. The whole conversation started when i said that if Eberle turned into a lupul he wouldnt exactly be a bust.

20 goal guys aren't all created equal.

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#92 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 12:08PM
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@ Ogden Brother: There is still a lot of hate here for Lupul, relax guys. he is what he is, and what he isnt bad. chill out everyone.

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#93 Chris.
September 09 2009, 12:56PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

Lupul is bad... This isn't about hate, this is my honest evaluation of his game. How many fifty point players are traded twice in two years... and then demoted to fourth line duty with their third team, while being actively shopped around..?.. Then are traded AGAIN the next offseason? Does it make sense for a largish, speedy, fifty point guy in his mid-twenties to get bounced around like a beachball at a Nickelback concert? IMO, Lupul's unlikely career path makes mores sense when you come to the realization that shift by shift, Lupul is a pretty crappy player overall; who has somehow managed to stick in the NHL by putting up points on the backs of others.

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#94 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 12:57PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: There is still a lot of hate here for Lupul, relax guys. he is what he is, and what he isnt bad. chill out everyone.

The funny part to me is that you endlessly rag on Horcoff yet you are praising Lupul. Thier isn't a GM in the league that would take Lupul over Horc, even at 1.25 more.

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#95 kingsblade
September 09 2009, 01:45PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

The funny part to me is that you endlessly rag on Horcoff yet you are praising Lupul. Thier isn’t a GM in the league that would take Lupul over Horc, even at 1.25 more.

For than matter I would even rather have Penner than Lupul and they have identical cap numbers.

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#96 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 03:05PM
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Chris. wrote:

this is my honest evaluation of his game. How many fifty point players are traded twice in two years… and then demoted to fourth line duty with their third team, while being actively shopped around..?..

wait are you talking about O'Sullivan right there? Oh no wait, he hasnt scored 50 points twice. I forgot.

Ogden Brother wrote:

The funny part to me is that you endlessly rag on Horcoff yet you are praising Lupul.

Rag on Horcoff for costing the team with the endless opportunities he had to score last year but couldnt, for not living up to his Cap hit?

Praise Lupul as a decent player who isnt a bust in the NHL?

Wow you guys, the "praise" i laid on Lupul sure was ridiculous, suggesting that a pick taken in the last third of the first round wouldnt be a bust if he turned into a 25-30 goal scorer.

Get a grip you guys, its pathetic.

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#97 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 03:57PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Chris. wrote: this is my honest evaluation of his game. How many fifty point players are traded twice in two years… and then demoted to fourth line duty with their third team, while being actively shopped around..?.. wait are you talking about O’Sullivan right there? Oh no wait, he hasnt scored 50 points twice. I forgot. Ogden Brother wrote: The funny part to me is that you endlessly rag on Horcoff yet you are praising Lupul. Rag on Horcoff for costing the team with the endless opportunities he had to score last year but couldnt, for not living up to his Cap hit? blockquote> I'm pretty sure he earned his 3.6 last year ;)
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#98 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 04:09PM
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@ Ogden Brother: no one is concerned about his old hit, only his new one. Its not like he could say "hey, last year i was only a 3.6, but I'll amp it up this year to a 5.5 for sure.

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#99 Ogden Brother
September 09 2009, 04:13PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: no one is concerned about his old hit, only his new one. Its not like he could say “hey, last year i was only a 3.6, but I’ll amp it up this year to a 5.5 for sure.

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.

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#100 Archaeologuy
September 09 2009, 04:41PM
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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?

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