December 10 2011 07:43AM
There's so much happening with these young Oilers it's impossible to keep track. Example: as of this morning, Jordan Eberle is leading the entire NHL in a very important offensive category.
As of this morning, young Jordan Eberle leads the NHL in 5x5 points per 60 minutes. That means that at even strength he's absolutely killing it, and doing so in his second full NHL season. This season, I've noticed a couple of times Eberle scoring from outer zones, areas where the Ryan Smyth's of the world can get a shot off but one wouldn't consider it a scoring chance. Eberle has always had a quick, accurate shot but this year he's finding twine from above the slot and doing it with some regularity. Add this to his impressive playmaking ability and the Oilers have a 21-year old who looks primed to explode offensively.
WHAT WOULD THE EXPLOSION LOOK LIKE?
tsn's season projections have Eberle finishing the season 31-56-87, and those are exceptional boxcars. We can't project those numbers with authority--injuries and slumps could factor in to all of this--but the young man has been a constant on Edmonton's top line and there's no reason to change based on performance. Put it this way: he's on pace to have an exceptional season.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is absolutely deserving of the attention he's received during a rookie season that so far ranks as one of the very best of the last 25 years. However, chemistry plays a big part in these things and "RNH to Eberle" may one day become as famous a phrase as well, certainly as famous as Weight-to-Smyth.
Eberle's uniqueness--in my opinion--comes in the sheer number of areas he's good to very good in. Eberle is a smart, savvy player who can find open ice and pass the puck expertly. He's a quick shooter, very accurate and has a keen sense of timing in regard to when to take a shot. I think several of those "outside the scoring zone" goals he's managed this season have to do with angles, timing of release and making the goalie aware of his other (passing) options before shooting.
We'll see. Maybe my eyes are telling me things that aren't there. I see a kid who is not only getting the tip ins and deflections, but also beating goalies clean with his shot and doing so from above the slot.
There's a word for a player like that: sniper. Is 30 goals at age 21 an indication of a young player about to go super nova? Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. There's plenty of season to go.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
As time rolls along, we'll know about Eberle,RNH and Hall. We already know lots about them but there's still a ways to go. I think the lesson of RNH and Eberle and their impressive start to the 11-12 season is that we shouldn't impose any limitations or imply greatness based on such small sample sizes.
Enjoy the scenery.
Nation Radio hits the air at noon today on Team 1260 at noon today. I read comments posted at both blogs, on twitter @ItsNationRadio and @lowetide_ plus we're available at firstname.lastname@example.org Our guests:
- Matt Bugg from dobber hockey. The prospects expert will spend time telling us about some of the Oilers kids who are emerging this season and we'll preview the WJs and the names to know in that Xmas tournament.
- Kent Wilson from Flames Nation will help tee up the BOA tonight in Calgary. Flames are 5-4-1 in their last 10 and the Oilers are 4-5-1 in the same time frame. With the Oilers off for a long stretch after the game, it's an important contest.
- Danny Gray from Leafs Nation will break down the sale of MLSE and how it will impact the television sports pie in this country. We'll also have a look at the parallel improvement of the Leafs and Oilers and see which path chosen appears to be working best.
- Ryan Lambert from Two Line Pass. Ryan is a keen observer of the game and a clever fellow. We'll talk about the league in general and the BOA specifically, along with some league news over the last week.
Your input is always important hope you can listen live or via podcast.