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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#151 Chris.
January 08 2010, 12:43PM
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@Crash

IMO, you are overvaluing Eberle if you think he is in the same class as most of your examples.

BTW... were you disappointed when Eberle was sent back to Jr this year? I think the Oilers did Eberle a tremendous favor sending him back to Jr. IMO, based on Eberle's season in Regina and his IIHF tournament, his development has been better served than if he was playing 5min a night with a losing club in Edmonton.

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#152 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 08 2010, 02:28PM
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Crash wrote:

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.

1. "top 9" is a huge mistake, we need proper roll players in the bottom 6. We can't waist those spots with more duplications from the top 6.

2. Odds are if he's going to make it next year, he'll be a 20 - 40 point guy on a poor team. What is the point of that? We can pay a proven player 1 - 1.5 million to produce at that level AND bring non score sheet value. 3. The problem with the "if he's ready" stance is that it's impossible to say with certainty if he actually is "ready" or not. Most felt at the time that Gagner was ready, most now feel he wasn't.

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#153 CurtisS
January 08 2010, 02:47PM
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I think one thing to keep in mind are the caliber of teams each played on post draft year?

Eberle- One of the worst WHL teams in the league? Finish's ppg AHL one a bottom team in the AHL.

Schremp- Best major junior team in country?

Gagner- Playing with 1st overall pick on a top 5 OHL team?

Stoll- 2nd overall team in WHL.

MAP- Playing with Sidney Crosby? and top team in their division?

POS- Played 2nd best OHL team going to the finals of the OHL championship

Hemsky- Top team in west division

One thing sticks out to me here? Anyone guess?

Just thought I would point out the obvious as to why anyone can cherry pick any stat to make so and so good or bad!

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#154 Crash
January 08 2010, 03:46PM
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Chris. wrote:

IMO, you are overvaluing Eberle if you think he is in the same class as most of your examples.

BTW... were you disappointed when Eberle was sent back to Jr this year? I think the Oilers did Eberle a tremendous favor sending him back to Jr. IMO, based on Eberle's season in Regina and his IIHF tournament, his development has been better served than if he was playing 5min a night with a losing club in Edmonton.

No I wasn't upset with Eberle being sent back to junior and if he isn't ready for the NHL I won't be upset if he gets sent to the AHL...all I'm trying to say is I disagree with everyone that says they would send him to the AHL for developing before he's even set foot in training camp

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#155 Crash
January 08 2010, 03:55PM
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Chris. wrote:

IMO, you are overvaluing Eberle if you think he is in the same class as most of your examples.

BTW... were you disappointed when Eberle was sent back to Jr this year? I think the Oilers did Eberle a tremendous favor sending him back to Jr. IMO, based on Eberle's season in Regina and his IIHF tournament, his development has been better served than if he was playing 5min a night with a losing club in Edmonton.

Many of those examples you would have been saying the same thing about when they came into the league. In fact look at Patrick Marleau's numbers, Jarome Iginla's, the Sedins, etc.

I'm not saying Eberle is in their class right now but how can you say that he won't be? What I'm saying is he is in the same class that many of those players were when they started in the NHL. Many of my examples didn't get off to a rip roaring start in their careers but they turned out just fine.

I'm not putting a value on Eberle at all. This is where I'm struggling to get my point across. All I'm saying is I disagree with all of those people that already have Eberle playing in the AHL next year for fear that if he doesn't play there his development will be screwed up. I'm just trying to say that there are numerous players who never went to the AHL and their development turned out just fine.

I could contrive that by you saying you think I'm overvaluating Eberle that you don't think he can be or has much of a shot of being a top 30 scorer in the NHL someday. Cuz most of the top 30 today didn't play in the AHL much at all. There is the odd one but not many.

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#156 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 08 2010, 04:17PM
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@ Crash

"I could contrive that by you saying you think I'm overvaluating Eberle that you don't think he can be or has much of a shot of being a top 30 scorer in the NHL someday. Cuz most of the top 30 today didn't play in the AHL much at all. There is the odd one but not many"

That's an incredible long shot.

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#157 crash
January 08 2010, 04:38PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

@ Crash

"I could contrive that by you saying you think I'm overvaluating Eberle that you don't think he can be or has much of a shot of being a top 30 scorer in the NHL someday. Cuz most of the top 30 today didn't play in the AHL much at all. There is the odd one but not many"

That's an incredible long shot.

If you say so

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#158 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 08 2010, 05:36PM
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crash wrote:

If you say so

Ha-ha, well now it's not a question. You do overate Eberle.

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