By Request: Eberle's Offensive Production Compared

Jonathan Willis
January 06 2010 09:36AM

The chart above is a comparison of Jordan Eberle's offensive numbers in Major Junior with the numbers posted by other players we're familiar with - Oilers draft picks and Patrick O'Sullivan.

To make things fair, I've levelled for age, centered on the year each player was first eligible for the draft. I've made no attempt to compensate for league strength - history shows us that the OHL and WHL are comparable leagues in terms of point production, with the QMJHL slightly behind. For this graph, that would mean knocking down Hemsky and Pouliot a little.

The star all by itself in the "Draft" column represents Sam Gagner's scoring ability in his junior year. A higher pick than any of the others listed here, it's not at all surprising to see him all by himself; most players - even good players - don't score at the rate he did until they're overagers.

The thick black line represents Jordan Eberle's offensive production over his junior career, and it looks very much like a shadow of Rob Schremp.  That seems ominous, but it's important to remember that Schremp was a rather unique player - his offensive production was disproportionally weighted towards the power play (indeed,it still is) and we don't know that Eberle's is (something I should probably check out).

I've previously compared Eberle to Patrick O'Sullivan (the red line), a player who has consistently outperformed Eberle ove rthe same age range.  Of course, that's changed in this final year of Eberle's junior career; his uptick in scoring is far better than O'Sullivan's gradual progression.

The other frightening thing about this graph is the Draft+1 year.  For the top three players, performance in that year did a fine job of foreshadowing their eventual NHL success: in order, Hemsky, Stoll, O'Sullivan.  All three are above Pouliot and Schremp, who are fringe players who might make it in a specific role, and all five are above Eberle at that age.

I'm not drawing conclusions here; as the title indicates, I put this together in response to a comment by Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things in the last article.  Still, even though I wouldn't have done this otherwise I have difficulty ignoring the implications, which are that Eberle isn't a slam dunk as an NHL star.  So far in his final year of junior he's out-scored Pouliot, O'Sullivan and Stoll - but is that an aberration or a breakout?  It's impossible to know at this point.  Regardless, I find myself feeling a little less optimistic about Eberle's NHL future now than I was last night.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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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#1 The Towel Boy
January 06 2010, 09:45AM
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Willis. You are a machine. Seriously.

On Eberle's recent uptick in PPG, he said it himself in an interview last night. He said he thinks it's the confidence in his game as the reason why he's become a more effective player.

I have to ask though....what were placings of the teams that these players played on. I mean were the Schremp and Gagner numbers padded by a crazy awesome team? Are Eberle's numbers skewed by playing on a team with less offensive skill? I don't know the answers...I'm just curious..and does it effect the numbers in any way? I guess it's more of a question of what were these player's linemates like.

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#4 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 06 2010, 10:05AM
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The more I look at these types of stats the more it becomes harder to come up with opinion. I mean take the different leagues in to effect, take in the quality of the teams, take whether or not the player is a shoot first or pass first player.

Nice to see stats like this, but really the only thing that will give us an accurate assesment is waiting and seeing what Eberle does.

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#5 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
January 06 2010, 10:07AM
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To be fair to Eberle, Hemsky's production may have proportionally followed the same curve if he was left in junior for another year.

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#6 Kevin
January 06 2010, 10:08AM
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Great comparison, although I might add with all the talent mentioned with the names above one consideration to take into account is the size factor. Putting up big numbers in jrs is one thing but once you start playing with the big boys it is entirely different. This is my fear with Eberle. I'm hoping he will put on some muscle and size prior to next year. He definatley has the skill but the big Dmen in the NHL make it tough on the smaller players. With the current Oil roster we know all about this. Our Sweedish draft pick on the other hand may not have the numbers but with his size at 6'-2" and already 205, I feel he is a safer bet to make more of an impact on the Oil next year.

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#7 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
January 06 2010, 10:15AM
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Are there supplementary power play PPG numbers you could graph? If the curves looks markedly different there, the similarities in Schremp/Eberle's development might not be so daunting...

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#10 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
January 06 2010, 10:28AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things:

Unfortunately, junior leagues don't break down point production by game situation, so the only way to dig it up is to go through the game sheets for each league.

Also unfortunately, I don't have the computer skillset required to write a script that will do the data mining for me, so I'd have to go through them one-by-one and I simply don't have the time to go through the whole group (though I may do it for Eberle).

Oh. Ew. Yeah don't do that, haha. I was thinking the numbers were handy.

Who does Kane most closely resemble in this bunch? (I'm trying to think, how many years did he have in junior?)

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#11 Homie
January 06 2010, 10:29AM
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Nice work on these numbers. It shows that junior numbers do not make any player a slam dunk in the NHL, but anyone with half a brain in their head knows that. However, Eberle is the best player in the WHL by a long shot right now and shows more promise than any other player the Oilers have in the system. Just trying to be optimistic.

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#12 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
January 06 2010, 10:31AM
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Homie wrote:

Nice work on these numbers. It shows that junior numbers do not make any player a slam dunk in the NHL, but anyone with half a brain in their head knows that. However, Eberle is the best player in the WHL by a long shot right now and shows more promise than any other player the Oilers have in the system. Just trying to be optimistic.

In terms of current developing players, though... is he?

These stats were as a result of being asked to choose between Gagner and Eberle. Who do you go with?

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#13 John K
January 06 2010, 10:34AM
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Of course there are several problems with the simple PPG metric. The primary one is TOI, TOI:PP, TOI:SH. Scoring rates over time are far more valuable, always have been, always will be. I don't have the time as I'm at work, but if you want to present statistical evidence that other people are going to evaluate players with, please use points per 60 and pp points per 60 etc.

Second, team strength. I imagine the London Knights massively dominant offensive teams have something to say about Schremp and Gagner's production.

Finally, we've seen two years in a row that the kid is clutch clutch clutch. It's not measured in stats very well (GWG GTG I guess), but I'm not tremendously worried about Eberle performing under pressure. He also has a great attitude, and by all the literature I've read he's very coach-able, and very competitive.

So unlike you, I will go out on a limb and say that I believe at worst hes a bottom six guy with production in the Erat range (although eberle is 2 inches shorter :).

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#14 danjo1
January 06 2010, 10:35AM
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To quote Battlestar Galactica: You are the harbinger of death, Jonathan Willis.

That does have me a little scared, but it looks like Eberle has a good nose for where the puck is going to be. Also, let's not forget that Pouliot was playing with Sidney Crosby on Rimouski.

I'm not sure how easy it is (very likely easier said than done), but if you can do a comparison for picks over Quinn's coaching career, I wonder if we would get a different picture. All those players, with the exception of O'Sullivan (and Eberle of course) were developed under MacTavish's staff. I'm not saying that one coach is better or worse, just that coaching may be a difference in how players turn out.

PS: I <3 the Edit button. Good work!

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#15 Lisa McRitchie
January 06 2010, 10:37AM
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but absolutely nothing is a sure thing. At this point I think that the idea of Hall and Eberle in Oilers silks is the only thing that gets some fans out of bed these days.

I think this article needs some MS paint unicorns and flowers :) What about looking at some players that were drafted in other rounds that ended up being surprise hits?

We do all need a slap in the face from reality, thanks for bringing it Jonathan.

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#17 The Towel Boy
January 06 2010, 10:43AM
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What we're all failing to recognize here is of the list of players in the graph above, how many have hot sisters?

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#20 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
January 06 2010, 10:46AM
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~Don't lie, Willis. You got a statistical chubby until Schremp came up as a comparable!~

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#21 Dyckster
January 06 2010, 10:48AM
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All things being fairly equal between JE and SG if we were delivered an immediate ultimatum to choose one right now I would take Eberle. Only because he is producing similar points to what Sam did in his last year of junior on a much less talented team. (notwithstanding the fact Gagne was 17 his last year in junior, Eberle is 19). The cups half full guy in me thinks this will only mean Eberle will have a more immediate impact as a pro cuz he's more mature......I hope.

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#22 The Falconer
January 06 2010, 10:49AM
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Nice work!

You nicely illustrate that for a prospect to have a legit shot at becoming a top six NHL scoring forward, the player has to score a ton of points at an early age. Having look over the numbers, I think many fans get too caught up in 100 points seasons by 19 or 20 your guys in junior but they don't usually foreshadow NHL success.

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#24 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 06 2010, 11:13AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Dyckster:

That age difference is huge. Bobby Smith outscored Wayne Gretzky in junior in 1977-78 - it was the last year in junior for both players - but Smith was three years older.

One ended up being a good NHL player, the other ended up being Wayne Gretzky.

Not quite on the same level, but Eric Tangradi was neck in neck with Tavares last year.

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#25 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 06 2010, 11:14AM
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Dyckster wrote:

All things being fairly equal between JE and SG if we were delivered an immediate ultimatum to choose one right now I would take Eberle. Only because he is producing similar points to what Sam did in his last year of junior on a much less talented team. (notwithstanding the fact Gagne was 17 his last year in junior, Eberle is 19). The cups half full guy in me thinks this will only mean Eberle will have a more immediate impact as a pro cuz he's more mature......I hope.

That doesn't really make sense. Gagner is more mature, both in age and with 3 full years in the NHL.

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#26 Dyckster
January 06 2010, 11:19AM
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Yikes, that's a pretty tough comparable being pitted against #99.

I do see your point however. Hey, if Eberle's career point production falls some where in between the two I'd be pretty happy!

Really though, comparing the two (SG versus JE) is so difficult. Too many intangibles to bring into the equations. Having said that, when it comes to thinking up sh*t (i.e. intangibles) most of us don't/can't...you da man Jdub!

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#27 Dan the Man
January 06 2010, 11:22AM
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~Of course the one big thing that everyone is forgetting is that Eberle won't have MacT to ruin him and stifle his NHL production.~

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#28 Dyckster
January 06 2010, 11:23AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

That doesn't really make sense. Gagner is more mature, both in age and with 3 full years in the NHL.

But considering Eberle is posting simular Major Junior points on a less successful team to what Gagne did, jumping ahead three years from now, my gut tells me Eberle will be ahead of where Gagne is right now...imho.

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#30 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 06 2010, 11:35AM
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Dyckster wrote:

But considering Eberle is posting simular Major Junior points on a less successful team to what Gagne did, jumping ahead three years from now, my gut tells me Eberle will be ahead of where Gagne is right now...imho.

Your missing the overiding point. Age is a HUGE factor in jr hockey. Every year the various league scoring leaders have a pile of 19 year old near the top of the chart....that never have NHL careers.

At this point 17 year old Gagner = 19 year old Eberle

So it shoudl be pretty easy to conclude that 21 year old Gagner >>>> 20 year old Eberle.

Quality of team may account for some discrepency Gagner at 17 was producing at 2x's the clip Eberle was.

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#31 Dyckster
January 06 2010, 11:45AM
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I'm not sold on the age thing being the deciding factor between these (or any) 2 players. If we're comparing physical maturity, according to their team stats page, SG 5'11" 191, JE 5'11" 184, pretty much a saw off. If we're comparing mental toughness based on their ages, than yes, things would suggest that as of right now Gagne gets the nod. Should we be in rebuilding mode though, my pick still goes to Eberle cuz the success of their respective junior teams is really the only thing that seperates the two. In other words once Eberle has 3 yearsish NHL experience under his belt he'll be more productive. It's a total hunch, but that's my logic. Let's end the debate though and simply hope we get to keep both of them....

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#32 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 06 2010, 11:58AM
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Dyckster wrote:

I'm not sold on the age thing being the deciding factor between these (or any) 2 players. If we're comparing physical maturity, according to their team stats page, SG 5'11" 191, JE 5'11" 184, pretty much a saw off. If we're comparing mental toughness based on their ages, than yes, things would suggest that as of right now Gagne gets the nod. Should we be in rebuilding mode though, my pick still goes to Eberle cuz the success of their respective junior teams is really the only thing that seperates the two. In other words once Eberle has 3 yearsish NHL experience under his belt he'll be more productive. It's a total hunch, but that's my logic. Let's end the debate though and simply hope we get to keep both of them....

Well ya, after 3 NHL years Eberle may be more productive then Gagners third NHL year, but why does that matter?

Gagner will be in year 6 at that time and if we follow the logic should be better then Eberle at year 3.

I'm really not getting what you are trying to get accross?

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#33 Hemmertime
January 06 2010, 11:59AM
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5 posts in Pre-season shows he has a nose for the net. Im content.

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#34 Homie
January 06 2010, 12:00PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Dyckster:

Except that Gagner's less than a year older than Eberle. At the same age, which is more impressive: good junior numbers or NHL second liner?

I think the answer is clear.

Do you think Gagner would have made the Oilers as an 18 year old with the current coaching and management regime? I don't and its probably not unreasonable to assume that Eberle likely would have made the team this year under Lowe and MacT. But, yeah, being a second liner in the NHL is more impressive than great junior numbers.

Eberle did not have the same path to junior and certainly did not have the same quality of teammates that Gagner did in junior or even previous to the OHL. His numbers make perfect sense as he continues to develop from a 7th round Bantam draft pick to dominating the WHL as 19 year old. Keep in mind he was also a PPG player in the AHL last year, albeit for a small number of games.

My bet is that Eberle has the higher upside, but the Oilers are lucky to have them both. I'd like to see Regina die early in the playoffs and Eberle play a few games with the Oil at the end of the year.

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#36 Trenton L
January 06 2010, 12:12PM
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Too lazy to look up the full list but the WHL site says Eberle in 28GP has:

20 PPG, 13 PPA, 3EVG, 18EVA, 6SHG, 0SHA.

So 55% of his production is on the PP, 35% at EV and 10% SH.

A quick look at current NHL stats shows nobody in the top 35 point getters has even 50% of their points on the PP. The top 10 average around 35% production on the PP. Other than defencemen nobody down to #73 scorer John Tavares has over 50% (53.6%) of their points earned on the PP.

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#37 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 06 2010, 12:18PM
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Trenton L wrote:

Too lazy to look up the full list but the WHL site says Eberle in 28GP has:

20 PPG, 13 PPA, 3EVG, 18EVA, 6SHG, 0SHA.

So 55% of his production is on the PP, 35% at EV and 10% SH.

A quick look at current NHL stats shows nobody in the top 35 point getters has even 50% of their points on the PP. The top 10 average around 35% production on the PP. Other than defencemen nobody down to #73 scorer John Tavares has over 50% (53.6%) of their points earned on the PP.

Wow, if their was ever damming evidence against Eberle, that is it.

3 EVG is brutal.

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#38 Trenton L
January 06 2010, 12:20PM
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Last season Eberle put up 35-39-74. PP was 12-24-36 for 49% of production.

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#39 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 06 2010, 12:25PM
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Trenton L wrote:

Too lazy to look up the full list but the WHL site says Eberle in 28GP has:

20 PPG, 13 PPA, 3EVG, 18EVA, 6SHG, 0SHA.

So 55% of his production is on the PP, 35% at EV and 10% SH.

A quick look at current NHL stats shows nobody in the top 35 point getters has even 50% of their points on the PP. The top 10 average around 35% production on the PP. Other than defencemen nobody down to #73 scorer John Tavares has over 50% (53.6%) of their points earned on the PP.

Wow that is a pretty scary stat

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#40 Chris.
January 06 2010, 12:34PM
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I openly laugh at anyone who has Magnus WTF Svensson, Taylor Hall, And Eberle drawn up as the Oiler's future first line. None of the three players are even NHL regulars let alone impact players... and one of the three isn't even Oiler property.

Look... I hope that Jordan Eberle emerges as the greatest coup of the 2008 draft. I hope he becomes known as the Flame Slayer; the ultimate clutch scorer, with ice in his veins, who scores 40 goals a season including fifteen game winners... Fact is, he could also just be the next Schremp, Brule, Or O'Sullivan. In any case, nobody will know for at least 3-5 years.

Fans in Edmonton need to learn to temper their expectations.

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#41 Trenton L
January 06 2010, 12:48PM
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In 01-02 Stoll put up 32-34-66 with 12-18-30 on the PP for 45% of his production. GP - 47

Keeping with familiar names, Lupul who dominated the league that year put up 56-50-106 in 72 GP. 19-16-35 was on the PP for 35%.

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#42 Trenton L
January 06 2010, 12:52PM
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@Chris

Agreed 100%. If the organizations plan is to bank next season, or any of the next 3, on the shoulders of Svensson, Eberle, and Omark we are doomed for the same results as Gagner, Cogliano, and Nilsson.

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#43 Nesquik
January 06 2010, 12:55PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Wow, if their was ever damming evidence against Eberle, that is it.

3 EVG is brutal.

Not really directed at you but looking at the site, I think he has 10 EV, 13 PP and 6 SH - that makes 29. Not sure where the 20PP came from because the site says 13 (though a bit confusing).

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#45 Archaeologuy
January 06 2010, 01:12PM
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@Jonathan Willis

JW, you did an excellent job breaking down the percentage of team scoring that guys like Schremp and Reddox did for their respective teams a while ago. The numbers seemed to be a really good indicator, perhaps even more reliable than strictly comparing stats. How does Eberle stack in regards to that kind of a comparison?

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#46 TigerUnderGlass
January 06 2010, 01:12PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Minister Towel Boy:

Off the top of my head:

Eberle's played for a fairly good team in Regina - not stunning, but fairly good.

Patrick O'Sullivan played for what I believe to be the worst junior team in the last 20 years. Pouliot played for a miserable and then excellent Rimouski team, while Schremp and Gagner played for powerhouse teams in London.

I can't recall how good the teams Hemsky and Stoll played for were.

Regina is not very good. Last year they went 27-39-1-5 and this year are at 17-23-3-0.

One good sign is his percentage of team offense, because at a glance it looks like he is coming in over the 60% mark.

Do you have the comparables for that by any chance? The only one I remember seeing is Gagner who, if I remember right, scored at around 54% or something like that.

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#47 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 06 2010, 01:30PM
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Bad Trenton L

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#48 Milli
January 06 2010, 01:39PM
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I think Gagner and Shrimp benifited hugely on WHO was on there team. Just curious and lazy, how big is Eberle?

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#49 Chris.
January 06 2010, 01:45PM
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With prospects you always look at both the tools, and the results. Schremp, as a junior, had great results immediately after being drafted. Unfortunately, IMO, it is Schremp's limited toolbag that is holding him back as a pro.

Eberle, like Schremp, has been getting great results. Nobody can deny that Eberle has been an incredible "clutch" performer at the IIHF Junior Tourney. In fact, some people say (unbiased local media), that Eberle is the best player in all of Junior right now. These guys like to point to Eberle's incredible "hockey sence"... whatever that means...

Problem is, I just don't see much of a toolbag. Eberle has neither size, nor great skating ability; nor a really powerful shot. Also, Eberle seems to play an awful lot on the perimeter (sound familiar?) Do the Oilers really need another small forward who is prone to let others win the puck battles because he himself is busy finding open ice, or making himself available in the slot?

So despite good results; Eberle is anything but a slam dunk imact NHLer at this point... Though, I was happy with his camp, and also with his stint on the Falcons.

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#50 Quintana
January 06 2010, 01:47PM
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Kevin wrote:

Great comparison, although I might add with all the talent mentioned with the names above one consideration to take into account is the size factor. Putting up big numbers in jrs is one thing but once you start playing with the big boys it is entirely different. This is my fear with Eberle. I'm hoping he will put on some muscle and size prior to next year. He definatley has the skill but the big Dmen in the NHL make it tough on the smaller players. With the current Oil roster we know all about this. Our Sweedish draft pick on the other hand may not have the numbers but with his size at 6'-2" and already 205, I feel he is a safer bet to make more of an impact on the Oil next year.

Correct!!Next draft the Oilers brass should consider a player like Cam Fowler instead of Taylor Hall, which I believe is 6'0'' if I'm not wrong, we dont need more small players in our system!!!!

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