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 Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#101 GSC
January 06 2010, 06:51PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

A perimeter player who has 60 pts in 28 games? A perimeter player who was a threat to score in every single Canadian game in the WJC? Are we talking about the same player? I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the type of player he is and will continue to develop into.

Anyone who calls Eberle a "perimeter player" is either blind or needs to have his/her head examined. Jordan goes into the corners and gets into the high traffic areas...how the hell else would he have scored to tie the Russia game last year?

Sweet jesus, I can't believe what I'm reading from some posters. This is ridiculous.

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#102 GSC
January 06 2010, 06:57PM
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And just for good measure, here's an endorsement of Eberle from every stats blogger's favourite Oiler (source: TSN.ca):

"The puck just follows him; you can't explain it," said Horcoff. "I think as a player, there are certain guys like that in the league that it just seems to come to them and he's a good finisher. I don't really think its luck, he finds the open ice and knows where the pucks going to go. Hopefully he can translate that to the pro game."

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#103 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 06 2010, 08:30PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Who is to say he won't be able to beat NHL defensemen and NHL goalies? Players get bigger, faster and stronger as they mature and develop into NHL players..usually anyways.

The kids game is not without flaws but jesus people he is 19 years old. He may not be the next 87 but he is a very good junior player with NHL potential. Can we reserve judgement until he actually plays in the NHL??

I understand Willis' article was directed at a question he was asked but it's getting out of hand around here

Did I pass judgment? No I said those were the important questions (in my mind anyways) as to whether or not he can take the next step.

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#104 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 06 2010, 08:34PM
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Interesting posts.

The "negative posters" are basically saying "lets relax with the expectations, he's a great prospect, but he's no slam dunk"

To which the "positive posters" reply with some insult about the sanity of those stating we need to keep expectations resonable.

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#105 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 06 2010, 08:58PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Interesting posts.

The "negative posters" are basically saying "lets relax with the expectations, he's a great prospect, but he's no slam dunk"

To which the "positive posters" reply with some insult about the sanity of those stating we need to keep expectations resonable.

~so my "eberle will be the greatest oiler ever" tattoo was premature?~

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#106 GSC
January 06 2010, 09:04PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Interesting posts.

The "negative posters" are basically saying "lets relax with the expectations, he's a great prospect, but he's no slam dunk"

To which the "positive posters" reply with some insult about the sanity of those stating we need to keep expectations resonable.

Those who think Eberle is a soft, perimeter player do need to have their heads examined, because it simply isn't the case.

As for the negative comments, what do you expect with the poor timing of such an article? Guess optimism about prospects that the math folks don't worship is wrong...

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#107 crash
January 06 2010, 09:09PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Interesting posts.

The "negative posters" are basically saying "lets relax with the expectations, he's a great prospect, but he's no slam dunk"

To which the "positive posters" reply with some insult about the sanity of those stating we need to keep expectations resonable.

Actually I'd say the negative posters keep trying to find damming evidence...anything that will show that the kid is likely to fail or saying that the AHL is where they belong without even a training camp to judge. As well the negative posters don't really put much stock in what the player has accomplished to date or find really a whole lot of positive to say about it.

Conversely the positive posters are encouraged by what they see, the accomplishments, the accolades from other coaches and players and the hope that the player will bring that to the NHL in the not too distant future. It's most of the positive posters that are actually saying we like what we see and are hopeful about it...we have something to watch and look forward too.

Then the negative posters start saying that the positive ones are stating the the young player is going to dominate right out of the gate or be the next Jesus of hockey when in fact not anyone is saying that.

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#108 crash
January 06 2010, 09:13PM
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GSC wrote:

Those who think Eberle is a soft, perimeter player do need to have their heads examined, because it simply isn't the case.

As for the negative comments, what do you expect with the poor timing of such an article? Guess optimism about prospects that the math folks don't worship is wrong...

I totally agree...I believe it was Chris who stated this. I don't know what he is watching. Eberle goes to the front of the net all the time waiting for the puck to come in his direction. When it does he pursues it and in some cases it looks as though he can stick handle in a phone booth. He may not be the fastest skater but he also isn't slow and he's got such quick hands and can bury a puck.

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#109 Gunner
January 06 2010, 09:16PM
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crash wrote:

Actually I'd say the negative posters keep trying to find damming evidence...anything that will show that the kid is likely to fail or saying that the AHL is where they belong without even a training camp to judge. As well the negative posters don't really put much stock in what the player has accomplished to date or find really a whole lot of positive to say about it.

Conversely the positive posters are encouraged by what they see, the accomplishments, the accolades from other coaches and players and the hope that the player will bring that to the NHL in the not too distant future. It's most of the positive posters that are actually saying we like what we see and are hopeful about it...we have something to watch and look forward too.

Then the negative posters start saying that the positive ones are stating the the young player is going to dominate right out of the gate or be the next Jesus of hockey when in fact not anyone is saying that.

Exactly. Why does the glass always have to be half-empty??

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#110 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 06 2010, 09:31PM
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GSC wrote:

Those who think Eberle is a soft, perimeter player do need to have their heads examined, because it simply isn't the case.

As for the negative comments, what do you expect with the poor timing of such an article? Guess optimism about prospects that the math folks don't worship is wrong...

I love the implications of an agenda.

Someone wonderd how his numbers stacked up against other players. The answer was provided.

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#111 GSC
January 06 2010, 09:46PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

I love the implications of an agenda.

Someone wonderd how his numbers stacked up against other players. The answer was provided.

So, it had to be provided right in the midst of the post-Gold game hype generated by Eberle's contributions?

It's bloggers vs. mainstream, been that way for a while now.

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#112 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 06 2010, 09:50PM
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GSC wrote:

So, it had to be provided right in the midst of the post-Gold game hype generated by Eberle's contributions?

It's bloggers vs. mainstream, been that way for a while now.

Tempering expectations is probably a good thing around here.

We've seen the results when players don't live up to the expextations we put on them

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#113 GSC
January 06 2010, 10:05PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Tempering expectations is probably a good thing around here.

We've seen the results when players don't live up to the expextations we put on them

But what are the expectations? Have you, or anyone else for that matter, taken a poll as to what we expect Eberle to be?

Naught to fear, the good folks at HFBoards took a poll on the very subject. Posters, including myself, voted overwhelmingly (53% amongst 7 categories) that Eberle would amount to a legitimate first liner. That's not a horrible expectation at all. To put it in perspective, more feel that Eberle will be second liner (27%) than those who think he's a potential superstar (14%). I'd say the expectations are fairly tempered, but that's just me.

Again, the "tempering expectations" when it comes to Eberle is just another response to mainstream hype, and it's becoming standard procedure amongst the "Oilogosphere." Those with some perspective and an eye for the game know not to get nuts over the kid, but there's nothing wrong with some optimism.

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#114 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
January 06 2010, 10:19PM
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GSC wrote:

So, it had to be provided right in the midst of the post-Gold game hype generated by Eberle's contributions?

It's bloggers vs. mainstream, been that way for a while now.

I think you're dreaming if you think the timing was intentional. I asked because I actually had no idea, and kind of expected the numbers to be similar to what Willis provided in his Kane v. Gagner article, showing how age can affect production.

The point of the article isn't to state that Eberle's future should match Schremp's because his junior numbers look similar. I don't think it's a stretch for anyone to say that the more successful a player is in junior, the more likely they are to be successful in the NHL (or we wouldn't have talent scouts).

The graph shows that Eberle's numbers have spiked, partially due to age (predictably), but partially because he's an excellent player. That's enough to give me hope.

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#115 Papa Steve
January 07 2010, 12:47AM
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As far who only looked good because they had great linemates goes, I agree that it's important to consider the quality of teams that juniors are playing on when evaluating their stats, but I disagree that good stats on a bad team are necessarily positive (or the inverse). Being on a good team shows that you are capable of contributing to a winner, which some people aren't. There's no point chasing someone whose destiny is to always be the best player on a bad team- Stuff like Corey Perry captaining the Knights to 31 straight wins matters. Jay Bouwmeester's never being able to get a team into the playoffs in any league matters. The number that got Glenn Anderson into the hall wasn't 491 goals, it was 6 cups. It's hard to quantify "intangibles", but the best stat for it is wins. If you're choosing between two close prospects give me the guy playing for the better team.

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#116 Papa Steve
January 07 2010, 12:47AM
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(Bouwmeester did make the playoffs in the AHL, but only because San Antonio loaned him to the Chicago wolves for playoff experience, I believe. Whatever the reason be played for Atlanta's farm club for those playoffs he scored 0 points in 18 games, but that's another discussion)

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#119 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 07 2010, 08:56AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ GSC:

And this summer an overwhelming majority here at OilersNation (>60%) voted that they preferred Nikolai Khabibulin on a four-year contract to Dwayne Roloson on a two-year contract.

So unless you believe that there are two distinct subsets of fans (HFBoards people and OilersNation people) and that the former is much brighter than the latter, I find it highly difficult to view an opinion poll as a compelling argument.

Frankly, I doubt there would have been much difference in the numbers for any of the Oilers highly-touted prospects: Hemsky, Pouliot, Schremp, Gagner, Cogliano, and Eberle would all be viewed as future first-liners coming out of junior, because Oilers fans are by nature optimistic. That's not a failing; it's a very natural hope that the next guys will make a difference. Sometimes they do.

Of course, two years down the road they're talking about how they'd dump those earlier prospect (like Gagner and Cogliano now) in favour of the next wave, because the next wave will live up to potential (unlike the current wave). It's an endless cycle because the expectations are so high that most prospects can't reach them.

I try to find a reasonable level of expectation, through a combination of math and what I see personally. It's not a perfect system (how could it be) but I find my hopes get dashed a little less because I've made a conscious effort not to get them too high - since unfounded hope only leads to disappointment.

That said, I'd intended to quietly do a study on Eberle's potential (an in-depth one) this fall before training camp, since there's a shortage of good stories, but I was asked to post a comparison now, so I did.

X 2

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#120 Chris.
January 07 2010, 09:34AM
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Holy. Relax people. I'm just trying to say peoples expectations for Eberle are becomming a little inflated.... and what happens.... these same people become mortally offended.

I said, "Ebele seems to play an awful lot on the perimeter". Isn't that the same as saying he has a knack for finding open ice? Watch replay, after replay of Eberle goals... He's wide open because he works himself into open ice (on the perimeter of the play)... This is not a shot at Eberle. It's an observation. BTW. The Oilers have lots of guys who play a similar game.

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#121 Reggie
January 07 2010, 09:58AM
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Chris. wrote:

Holy. Relax people. I'm just trying to say peoples expectations for Eberle are becomming a little inflated.... and what happens.... these same people become mortally offended.

I said, "Ebele seems to play an awful lot on the perimeter". Isn't that the same as saying he has a knack for finding open ice? Watch replay, after replay of Eberle goals... He's wide open because he works himself into open ice (on the perimeter of the play)... This is not a shot at Eberle. It's an observation. BTW. The Oilers have lots of guys who play a similar game.

My take on Eberle is he has a nose for the net you rarely see. He finds open spots similar to a Mike Bossy or Brett Hull.

Bossy made a career on his quick release.

Hull made a career with his big shot.

Now the trick with Eberle is ... is his shot an NHL shot, is his shot on par with Hull or Bossy.

Or do we have another Petr Sykora who's best seasons were 35, 34 and 29 goals on the Devils and Ducks. He had 81, 72 and 68 points posted on some real good Devils teams. And has accumulated over 934 NHL games, 302 goals, 375 assists for 677 points.

I would love to see Eberle be a Bossy or Hull, but realistically his high water mark might be good Sykora-type numbers at best.

Just my thoughts.

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#122 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 07 2010, 10:05AM
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Reggie wrote:

My take on Eberle is he has a nose for the net you rarely see. He finds open spots similar to a Mike Bossy or Brett Hull.

Bossy made a career on his quick release.

Hull made a career with his big shot.

Now the trick with Eberle is ... is his shot an NHL shot, is his shot on par with Hull or Bossy.

Or do we have another Petr Sykora who's best seasons were 35, 34 and 29 goals on the Devils and Ducks. He had 81, 72 and 68 points posted on some real good Devils teams. And has accumulated over 934 NHL games, 302 goals, 375 assists for 677 points.

I would love to see Eberle be a Bossy or Hull, but realistically his high water mark might be good Sykora-type numbers at best.

Just my thoughts.

Hey-hey, I've been touting a Peter Sykora comparison for about a year now.

I'd be very happy with a Sykora type career out of Eberle.

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#123 Dan the Man
January 07 2010, 10:07AM
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Chris. wrote:

Holy. Relax people. I'm just trying to say peoples expectations for Eberle are becomming a little inflated.... and what happens.... these same people become mortally offended.

I said, "Ebele seems to play an awful lot on the perimeter". Isn't that the same as saying he has a knack for finding open ice? Watch replay, after replay of Eberle goals... He's wide open because he works himself into open ice (on the perimeter of the play)... This is not a shot at Eberle. It's an observation. BTW. The Oilers have lots of guys who play a similar game.

Perimeter players don't go in to the difficult areas (i.e. near the net) they play on the outside and are basically considered soft because of it.

In your original post weren't you listing Eberle's negatives?

I would say that the ability to find open ice is one of Eberle's best assets. He may not be able to find that same open ice in the NHL but he does a very nice job of it in Jr.

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#124 Reggie
January 07 2010, 10:11AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Hey-hey, I've been touting a Peter Sykora comparison for about a year now.

I'd be very happy with a Sykora type career out of Eberle.

So, given his size and speed, I think he reminds me of Sykora a lot.

The kid has a nose for the net that in my opinion is better than Sykora's. I also think Sykora is more of a fringe player, not always going to the tough places. Eberle I think works harder too.

Character, hockey smarts and an apparent knack for scoring big goals may push Eberle beyond Sykora's numbers. That would be golden !!

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#125 Chris.
January 07 2010, 10:36AM
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@Dan The Man. The Oilers have too many similar type forwards. The organization has been drafting, and trading for essentially the same player over and over again. As a result, calling a guy a "perimeter" player has taken on a negative connotation in Oil Country. Perimeter type players have their use on a balanced roster, and they are not necessarily lazy or uncompetative... they just often lack the physical tools to play an effective power game. Let's face it: Eberle is not crushing people down low. Eberle doesn't often battle in traffic for position in front of the net or in the slot... Rather, Eberle reads plays and anticipates where the puck will be going. He makes himself available. He uses his intellect to break down coverage. He makes quick decisions and moves the puck well. (Much like many Oiler forwards did in their Jr careers)

I guess it depends on what you mean by perimeter... The word, and the way I use it; is not necessarily a swear.

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#126 Gunner
January 07 2010, 10:37AM
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@Chris.

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?

It sure doesn't sound like you giving him props for finding open ice does it?

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#127 Chris.
January 07 2010, 10:38AM
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@GSC

The ball is in your court... smart guy.

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#128 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 07 2010, 10:43AM
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Chris. wrote:

@Dan The Man. The Oilers have too many similar type forwards. The organization has been drafting, and trading for essentially the same player over and over again. As a result, calling a guy a "perimeter" player has taken on a negative connotation in Oil Country. Perimeter type players have their use on a balanced roster, and they are not necessarily lazy or uncompetative... they just often lack the physical tools to play an effective power game. Let's face it: Eberle is not crushing people down low. Eberle doesn't often battle in traffic for position in front of the net or in the slot... Rather, Eberle reads plays and anticipates where the puck will be going. He makes himself available. He uses his intellect to break down coverage. He makes quick decisions and moves the puck well. (Much like many Oiler forwards did in their Jr careers)

I guess it depends on what you mean by perimeter... The word, and the way I use it; is not necessarily a swear.

Very good breakdown. IMO Eberle would be very useful on a line with a grinder to do the dirty work and dig out pucks + a playmaker.

Teaming him with 1-2 more perimeter players would likely be a disaster.

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#129 Chris.
January 07 2010, 10:44AM
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Gunner wrote:

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?

It sure doesn't sound like you giving him props for finding open ice does it?

I won't give props to an unproven commodity. Why assign expectations to a player who has never played a single NHL shift? You can read my post and figure I'm being negative. I think I'm being realistic. You can tell yourself that "Wow Chris hates Eberle..." I don't. I'm just not blindly buying in to the "future" is bright mantra. I've been hearing that for 20 years.

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#130 Gunner
January 07 2010, 10:56AM
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Chris. wrote:

I won't give props to an unproven commodity. Why assign expectations to a player who has never played a single NHL shift? You can read my post and figure I'm being negative. I think I'm being realistic. You can tell yourself that "Wow Chris hates Eberle..." I don't. I'm just not blindly buying in to the "future" is bright mantra. I've been hearing that for 20 years.

Who said anything about assigning expectations. Calling him a perimeter player is false, whether you want to believe it or not. He does go into the traffic areas, he does battle for loose pucks but he also has the knack to find the soft spots to be ready to pounce on loose pucks or to be in a scoring position.

Whether or not he can continue doing that in the NHL has yet to be seen. That was not my point.

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#131 Reggie
January 07 2010, 10:56AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Very good breakdown. IMO Eberle would be very useful on a line with a grinder to do the dirty work and dig out pucks + a playmaker.

Teaming him with 1-2 more perimeter players would likely be a disaster.

The only way he doesn't get teamed with 1-2 more perimeter players is Tambo gets some sleep, awakes and realizes we have a roster full of them and actually makes a trade.... LMAO

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#132 Gunner
January 07 2010, 10:58AM
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We are all spinning our wheels here. Isn't there a game or something tonite??

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#133 Dan the Man
January 07 2010, 10:59AM
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Chris. wrote:

@Dan The Man. The Oilers have too many similar type forwards. The organization has been drafting, and trading for essentially the same player over and over again. As a result, calling a guy a "perimeter" player has taken on a negative connotation in Oil Country. Perimeter type players have their use on a balanced roster, and they are not necessarily lazy or uncompetative... they just often lack the physical tools to play an effective power game. Let's face it: Eberle is not crushing people down low. Eberle doesn't often battle in traffic for position in front of the net or in the slot... Rather, Eberle reads plays and anticipates where the puck will be going. He makes himself available. He uses his intellect to break down coverage. He makes quick decisions and moves the puck well. (Much like many Oiler forwards did in their Jr careers)

I guess it depends on what you mean by perimeter... The word, and the way I use it; is not necessarily a swear.

Fair enough, I can't really disagree with any of that.

In your original post you were listing off negatives (lack of size, skating ability and lack of powerful shot) and you included perimeter player amongst those negatives. I just just don't see reading the play, anticipating where the puck will be going and finding open ice as negatives.

A lot of Eberle's goals seem to be from within about 10 feet of the front of the net and I wouldn't personally consider that the perimeter.

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#134 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 07 2010, 11:05AM
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Reggie wrote:

The only way he doesn't get teamed with 1-2 more perimeter players is Tambo gets some sleep, awakes and realizes we have a roster full of them and actually makes a trade.... LMAO

Yup, whiche is scary and also probably why Chris questions his fit on the team.

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#135 GSC
January 07 2010, 11:15AM
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Chris. wrote:

The ball is in your court... smart guy.

What exactly did I do wrong here? Did I tout Eberle as the second coming? Show me where.

Several folks here were claiming that the expectations for Eberle were too high at this point, and I wanted a more concrete idea as to what those expectations actually were. I've heard everything from bust to superstar, so I haven't a clue what the consensus is.

The problem is fans like me who think Jordan could be the real deal are being lumped in with those who think he's Crosby/Kane/Ovechkin before he even sets foot in an NHL dressing room. That's absurd.

So, what is it that you'd like me to say? Do I now have to agree that Eberle is a "perimeter player?" Sorry, but that's not going to happen. I'm with the poster Dan the Man on this one.

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#136 GSC
January 07 2010, 11:24AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ GSC:

And this summer an overwhelming majority here at OilersNation (>60%) voted that they preferred Nikolai Khabibulin on a four-year contract to Dwayne Roloson on a two-year contract.

So unless you believe that there are two distinct subsets of fans (HFBoards people and OilersNation people) and that the former is much brighter than the latter, I find it highly difficult to view an opinion poll as a compelling argument.

Frankly, I doubt there would have been much difference in the numbers for any of the Oilers highly-touted prospects: Hemsky, Pouliot, Schremp, Gagner, Cogliano, and Eberle would all be viewed as future first-liners coming out of junior, because Oilers fans are by nature optimistic. That's not a failing; it's a very natural hope that the next guys will make a difference. Sometimes they do.

Of course, two years down the road they're talking about how they'd dump those earlier prospect (like Gagner and Cogliano now) in favour of the next wave, because the next wave will live up to potential (unlike the current wave). It's an endless cycle because the expectations are so high that most prospects can't reach them.

I try to find a reasonable level of expectation, through a combination of math and what I see personally. It's not a perfect system (how could it be) but I find my hopes get dashed a little less because I've made a conscious effort not to get them too high - since unfounded hope only leads to disappointment.

That said, I'd intended to quietly do a study on Eberle's potential (an in-depth one) this fall before training camp, since there's a shortage of good stories, but I was asked to post a comparison now, so I did.

All valid points for sure, I just want to know what the overall consensus is in terms of expectations for Eberle? There's talk of caution as to building the expectations for the young man. I threw the poll out there just as evidence that not everyone is jumping on the Eberle for Hart Trophy bandwagon just yet. Like I've said, I've heard everything from bust to superstar, so I imagine somewhere in between makes sense. I think he's a first liner in the making, but I don't need to be reminded that he's still only a prospect and has yet to set foot on NHL ice. That's common sense.

Given his propensity to score big goals on a big stage, however, sure the hype is going to be revved up. I see something in him that was lacking with the current group of "prospects" (Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson) that I like, and even Shawn Horcoff likes (as I quoted earlier in this comments section). So where does that get me? Thrown in with the crowd who thinks Ebs is the Hockey Gods' gift to humanity. I'm not defining him based on those world junior games alone, far from it. What I'm saying is that there is something to be said for his continued excellence on the international stage against players at his age and skill level.

Pardon me for being a bit optimistic about a prospect making some noise and dominating juniors (just as Lowetide says should happen, gradually dominate one level at a time before making the show). I know that you know where I'm coming from, JW. I think we're on the same page, just arriving at that page through different means, as usual.

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#137 Crash
January 07 2010, 11:28AM
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GSC wrote:

What exactly did I do wrong here? Did I tout Eberle as the second coming? Show me where.

Several folks here were claiming that the expectations for Eberle were too high at this point, and I wanted a more concrete idea as to what those expectations actually were. I've heard everything from bust to superstar, so I haven't a clue what the consensus is.

The problem is fans like me who think Jordan could be the real deal are being lumped in with those who think he's Crosby/Kane/Ovechkin before he even sets foot in an NHL dressing room. That's absurd.

So, what is it that you'd like me to say? Do I now have to agree that Eberle is a "perimeter player?" Sorry, but that's not going to happen. I'm with the poster Dan the Man on this one.

X2

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#138 Chris.
January 07 2010, 11:44AM
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@GSC

Maybe I didn't like the way you said I needed to have my "head examined" for saying that Eberle plays an awful lot on the perimeter. Being alone in the slot means you are on the "perimeter" of the play even if you are 10 feet from the net. I covered my definition of perimeter in post #125. I don't know which Eberle you were watching, but the Eberle I watched didn't spend the majority of his ice time battling D down low, or fighting for position in traffic; The Eberle I watched made himself available on the fringe of those scrums. My take, is that Eberle plays more of a cerebral game than a physical game.

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#139 GSC
January 07 2010, 11:51AM
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Chris. wrote:

Maybe I didn't like the way you said I needed to have my "head examined" for saying that Eberle plays an awful lot on the perimeter. Being alone in the slot means you are on the "perimeter" of the play even if you are 10 feet from the net. I covered my definition of perimeter in post #125. I don't know which Eberle you were watching, but the Eberle I watched didn't spend the majority of his ice time battling D down low, or fighting for position in traffic; The Eberle I watched made himself available on the fringe of those scrums. My take, is that Eberle plays more of a cerebral game than a physical game.

Then make it clear by saying "cerebral" next time. Just because he's a thinking player doesn't make him a perimeter player. Your idea of a perimeter player in comparison to mine is totally different, so my apologies for the head examination remark...although I think we could all use it at some point or another, I know I can!

I take the word "perimeter" to be like a swear, as you so aptly put it, since it has come to connote a soft player in my book. I don't see Eberle as a softie, far from it. I see an opportunistic hockey player, and it sounds like you see the same?

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#140 Dyckster
January 07 2010, 11:58AM
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Chris. wrote:

Maybe I didn't like the way you said I needed to have my "head examined" for saying that Eberle plays an awful lot on the perimeter. Being alone in the slot means you are on the "perimeter" of the play even if you are 10 feet from the net. I covered my definition of perimeter in post #125. I don't know which Eberle you were watching, but the Eberle I watched didn't spend the majority of his ice time battling D down low, or fighting for position in traffic; The Eberle I watched made himself available on the fringe of those scrums. My take, is that Eberle plays more of a cerebral game than a physical game.

Boo ya! Your dead on @Chris

Someone used a Brett Hull reference earlier, Eberle plays a lot like him minus that wicked shot....maybe a little spinich will lead to some popeye type forearms. THEN watch the puck fly!

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#141 Chris.
January 07 2010, 12:49PM
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@GSC

The problem is (and the reason I listed "plays an awful lot on the perimeter" with the negatives) is that the Oilers are already flooded with guys who play an awful lot on the perimeter. Don't get me wrong: Players like Gagner and Eberle, who "think the game" well, are valuable. These guys only look soft and ineffective if they aren't properly supported by the coaches and management by being paired up with linmates that have compliamentary skills.

Has anyone noticed how, whether its Gagner, or Cogliano, or Nilsson, that time on the fourth line seems to kickstart their production? This is because players of this ilk need gritty linemates to be successful. Ideally the Oilers need some skilled-Stortini type players. The Oilers are short of true Nhlers who are big, gritty, and physical: physical type players capable of playing on the scoring lines or the powerplay.

It's my guess, that if Eberle makes the club next season, and is not given more physical linemates, he is not going to generate much. If this happens, Eberle will probably be accused of being "soft"... He might even look that way playing against men as a 19 year old.

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#142 Nebuchadnezzar
January 07 2010, 01:29PM
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Remember Eberle had 9 points in 9 games in Springfield as an 18 year old after his junior season finished last year...

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#143 GSC
January 07 2010, 01:39PM
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Chris. wrote:

The problem is (and the reason I listed "plays an awful lot on the perimeter" with the negatives) is that the Oilers are already flooded with guys who play an awful lot on the perimeter. Don't get me wrong: Players like Gagner and Eberle, who "think the game" well, are valuable. These guys only look soft and ineffective if they aren't properly supported by the coaches and management by being paired up with linmates that have compliamentary skills.

Has anyone noticed how, whether its Gagner, or Cogliano, or Nilsson, that time on the fourth line seems to kickstart their production? This is because players of this ilk need gritty linemates to be successful. Ideally the Oilers need some skilled-Stortini type players. The Oilers are short of true Nhlers who are big, gritty, and physical: physical type players capable of playing on the scoring lines or the powerplay.

It's my guess, that if Eberle makes the club next season, and is not given more physical linemates, he is not going to generate much. If this happens, Eberle will probably be accused of being "soft"... He might even look that way playing against men as a 19 year old.

Well put, and yes I agree that Eberle would need a physical linemate to augment his skill set. If he's out there with someone like Gagner, of course he's going to look "soft," that's a given.

I just hope that he stays in Springfield for a good portion, if not all of, next season before making the jump to the show. Let him develop, if this is a proper rebuild then there's no reason to rush him along.

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#144 Crash
January 07 2010, 03:13PM
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GSC wrote:

Well put, and yes I agree that Eberle would need a physical linemate to augment his skill set. If he's out there with someone like Gagner, of course he's going to look "soft," that's a given.

I just hope that he stays in Springfield for a good portion, if not all of, next season before making the jump to the show. Let him develop, if this is a proper rebuild then there's no reason to rush him along.

This is where we differ GSC...I want to see Eberle in Oiler silks next season unless he's not ready which I don't think will be the case.

There is no evidence that supports a player needing to play in the AHL in order to develop. IMO he should only go there if he isn't in our top 9 which I can't see him not being.

I want to watch the kid live in Rexall starting next season if not at the end of this season.

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#145 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 07 2010, 03:59PM
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Crash wrote:

This is where we differ GSC...I want to see Eberle in Oiler silks next season unless he's not ready which I don't think will be the case.

There is no evidence that supports a player needing to play in the AHL in order to develop. IMO he should only go there if he isn't in our top 9 which I can't see him not being.

I want to watch the kid live in Rexall starting next season if not at the end of this season.

Don't you think we would be wasting a year of his rookie contract if he's say a 30 point player?

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#146 Chris.
January 07 2010, 04:42PM
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@Crash

LOL.

"There is no evidence that supports a player needing to play in the AHL in order to develop."

Funniest quote on ON... ever. Why do NHL teams even HAVE an Americal Hockey League affiliation?

I guess there is also no evidence to suggest (based on attendance) that the Oilers need to ice a lineup of players with any pro experience.

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#147 Crash
January 08 2010, 08:56AM
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Chris. wrote:

LOL.

"There is no evidence that supports a player needing to play in the AHL in order to develop."

Funniest quote on ON... ever. Why do NHL teams even HAVE an Americal Hockey League affiliation?

I guess there is also no evidence to suggest (based on attendance) that the Oilers need to ice a lineup of players with any pro experience.

Not sure what is so funny...IMO NHL teams have the AHL teams to develop players they have in their system that aren't ready to make the big team...what my statement says is that there is no evidence that it is a must that a prospect has to spend time in the AHL to develop into a sound NHLer just because he's a prospect...otherwise all prospects would spend time in the AHL...I never said that a prospect that isn't ready for the NHL shouldn't go to the AHL.

Honestly I didn't think I would have to explain this to you.

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#148 Crash
January 08 2010, 09:01AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Don't you think we would be wasting a year of his rookie contract if he's say a 30 point player?

How would you know when he is going to produce more than 30 pts in the NHL? Does this mean you would keep him down in the AHL as long as possible to maximize when he becomes a UFA? Why are most other teams in the NHL keeping their ready young prospects with the big club and not sending them down...the list is extensive.

I sure hope we aren't concerning ourselves with how far into the future each prospect will become UFA and keep them off the big team just for that reason.

All I'm saying is I think he's ready to be in the top 9 on our team...at the very least I'd give him his 10 NHL games before deciding what to do. I wouldn't send him directly to the AHL unless he really was bad next training camp.

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#149 Chris.
January 08 2010, 10:17AM
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@Crash

There is plenty of evidence/examples to suggest that prospects need to spend time in the AHL to develop... unless you are talking about a generational talent... are you suggesting Eberle is a generational talent?

Just because poorly run teams are sometimes forced to inject CHL talent directly into their NHL lineups (at great risk to both the players confidence and health) doesn't mean this is the ideal place for a player to learn his craft... Just ask Brule. While you may be correct in saying some prospects can still have careers in the NHL despite bypassing the AHL entirely; conventional wisdom dictates that prospects develop as fast or often faster by spending a year or two in the AHL. Sam Gagner is, and was, a better overall prospect than Eberle by almost every measure... Haven't you grown tired of watching him spin his wheels in the show.?. Also from a business side of things; Gagner is only twenty and he will achieve RFA status this summer. To make matters worse, Gagner looks to have taken a step back. He is playing with almost no confidence... many organizations would send a twenty year old down to the AHL for a breif stint to regain confidence/focus. The Oilers, however, have so badly mismanaged the development of Gagner that he would have to clear waivers to do so... This kid is still to young to drink in majority of cities he plays in and he has all the rights and status of a full fledged NHl player under the CBA.

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#150 Crash
January 08 2010, 11:23AM
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Chris. wrote:

There is plenty of evidence/examples to suggest that prospects need to spend time in the AHL to develop... unless you are talking about a generational talent... are you suggesting Eberle is a generational talent?

Just because poorly run teams are sometimes forced to inject CHL talent directly into their NHL lineups (at great risk to both the players confidence and health) doesn't mean this is the ideal place for a player to learn his craft... Just ask Brule. While you may be correct in saying some prospects can still have careers in the NHL despite bypassing the AHL entirely; conventional wisdom dictates that prospects develop as fast or often faster by spending a year or two in the AHL. Sam Gagner is, and was, a better overall prospect than Eberle by almost every measure... Haven't you grown tired of watching him spin his wheels in the show.?. Also from a business side of things; Gagner is only twenty and he will achieve RFA status this summer. To make matters worse, Gagner looks to have taken a step back. He is playing with almost no confidence... many organizations would send a twenty year old down to the AHL for a breif stint to regain confidence/focus. The Oilers, however, have so badly mismanaged the development of Gagner that he would have to clear waivers to do so... This kid is still to young to drink in majority of cities he plays in and he has all the rights and status of a full fledged NHl player under the CBA.

I honestly don't believe Gagner has taken a step back and his NHL numbers to date are on par with how Patrick Marleau started out his career. I also think Gagner's numbers would be even better if he was being brought along with more of a 1st line role with this team which I think he is more than capable of being on this team. I don't feel as though Gagner in as bad of shape as you are making out. You used Brule in your example. I decided to look at the NHL scoring stats. My plan was to go through the top 100 but it was taking too long so I stopped when I got to around the top 60 but what I found was of the top 60 or so scorers in the NHL, more than half, actually well more than half of them have never played a full season in the AHL and even moreso in the top 30. The data suggests that the top end NHLers don't develop their game in the AHL at all and only the more fringe NHLers do. I'm not claiming this is the case in ALL situations, just a majority of them.

So it's not as you say just poorly run teams that inject talent right out of the CHL or young talent right out of college or the EURO leagues. It's actually all NHL teams that do. It seems they really only send players to the AHL that aren't NHL ready.

The list is VERY long of the players that didn't play in the AHL. (ie: both Sedins, J.Thornton, Gaborik, Ovechkin, Crosby, P. Kane, B.Richards, N.Backstrom, Kovalchuk, Heatley, Marleau, Perry, Iginla, Kopitar, Horton, Getzlaf, Rick Nash, Malkin, Stamkos, P.Stastny, Lecavalier, Wolski, T. Kaberle, M.Richards, J.Carter, R.Malone, Toews, Pronger). Those are just some of the numerous names of guys who are stars now who never played even close to a full season of AHL hockey. More recently than that we have (Tavares, Duchene, Myers, Del Zotto, Benn, O'Reilly, E.Kane, Kulikov). It seems most of the top rookies scoring wise anyway are the ones that haven't spent time in the AHL. It's the less talented ones in most cases that spend the time on the farm honing their skills.

In summary, I think amongst all of those names there is a wide variety of NHL franchises. So either most teams in the NHL are poorly run or simply most NHL teams don't send their prospects to the AHL if they are ready for the NHL.

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