Jordan Eberle: A Right Wing Love Story

Cat Silverman
July 25 2016 09:00AM

Sup, Oilers Nation? I'm here to let you in on a little secret today: 

Jordan Eberle isn't elite. 

Wanna know another secret, though? It totally, absolutely does not matter

Defining Jordan Eberle

Story 1

Drafted 22nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2008, Eberle has become one of the most productive players in his draft class in the following handful of seasons. 

That's not a subjective stat; he's literally one of the top three point producers in his class. Only Steven Stamkos and Erik Karlsson have managed to rack up more points than him since hitting the NHL, and both have played at least 50 more games. Stamkos has played in 144 more! 

Bottom line: he's put up more points than Mikkel Boedker (drafted 14 spots ahead of him), Derek Stepan, Adam Henrique, and Drew Doughty. In a draft class that certainly isn't full of busts, he's held his own. 

Overall, he's put up 145 goals and 331 points in 425 games since hitting the NHL in 2010, finishing with at least 60 points three separate times and at least 70 points once. His only sub-20 goal seasons were his rookie year, where he put up 18 tallies in 69 games (still pretty nice, if you ask me), and the lockout-shortened year (in which he found the back of the net 18 times). 

If he doesn't hit the 500-game club this year - and creep near that 400 point mark - *he's almost certain to hit it the year following. At that point, he'll be just 28. 

From a possession standpoint, Eberle is in a losing position, of course. He's played on a poor possession club for his entire NHL career, never sniffing the postseason and playing with little to no veteran sheltering from the first time he took the ice. 

Still, he - like fellow (ex) Oilers winger Taylor Hall - has managed to hold his own. On a team that basically hit Sacramento Kings-level incompetence for what amounted to an entire decade, he's posted possession numbers, both offensively and defensively, that align with top six talent. 

Here's a look at him, comparing him to his draft class's most 'elite' talent: 

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 2.40.13 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 2.40.35 PM

Translation? 

Stamkos has put up better Corsi numbers (which loosely correlate to possession), but not by an absurd amount - and he's done so on a much better team. 

Stamkos has also found the back of the net more consistently, but Eberle has been a bit better at generating playmaking, based on his assist totals and A60 figures. 

Overall, Stamkos has been better - but not by much. 

Looking outside of his draft class, Eberle's point production doesn't exactly fade away, either. Of all forwards since 2010 with at least 5,000 minutes of ice time, Eberle ranks 14th in point production overall at even strength. When you account for all situations, he only falls to 32nd -- and of the players who have outproduced him in all situations, nine of those players have won Stanley Cups in that time frame. Of the ones who outproduced him and haven't seen results in the form of a championship? Names such as Patrick Marleau, Claude Giroux, Alex Ovechkin, and Stamkos grace that list. No other player who has failed to see the postseason since 2010 has managed to outproduce Eberle in that time frame.  

The Oilers have been absolutely miserable, but it certainly hasn't been because Eberle has been any kind of slouch. 

Using the word 'Elite'

Personally, I hate the word elite. 

I hate it. I really do. 

It's subjective, for starters. What I consider elite at one position may be different from what another person considers elite at that position -- and then you have to consider that what measures 'eliteness' varies from position to position. 

Can you be an elite shot-blocker? What about an elite stay-at-home defenseman, versus an elite defenseman? Don't even get me started on elite goaltenders, either -- we'd be here all day. 

As a result, I think that 'eliteness' is in the eyes of the beholder. One person may consider being the third highest-scoring player at any position in a particular draft class to make someone elite. Another may think that being one of the best playmakers at a particular position makes someone elite, or being the 32nd highest-scoring forward in the NHL since 2010 in all situations. 

Still others, though, are a bit pickier with the word elite. It's like the arguments about 'untouchable' players during the trade deadline; depending on what you use as your qualifier for a word, extremely good talent may fall short of deserving certain accolades. 

Personally, I think that there are probably only four or five players in each conference that deserve the word 'elite' in any given situation. 

As a result? Eberle, who is probably one of the top 10 forwards in the Western Conference, fails to make the cut. 

THAT'S FINE. 

There are 30 teams in the NHL. If every single team had an elite defenseman, center, right winger, left winger, goaltender, shot blocker, powerplay specialist, and face-off guy, the word would lose its meaning. At best, teams probably only have one or two elite guys on their roster at any given time -- and those are the championship-winning teams. 

For the Oilers, let's assume that Connor McDavid is an elite center. 

(Who are we kidding. We're not assuming it; of course he's elite). 

Let's also assume, for the time being, that Milan Lucic is an elite power forward. That's two players who fit the bill for the 'cream of the crop', the best of the best. 

That also leaves Jordan Eberle on the outside, looking in as just a very very, extremely competent forward who is arguably one of the best right wingers in the entire Western Conference. 

Maybe we'll still need to trade him. Maybe Oliver Ekman-Larsson will wear a track suit to a team meeting next year, Shane Doan will throw it into the locker room showers, and the Coyotes will look to move their elite left-shot defenseman. Maybe, at that point, Eberle will make perfect trade bait. 

In order to win a cup, though, you don't need a roster of 22 'elite' guys. Elite is a stupid word, full of subjectivity and misinterpretations. Cups are won by well-balanced rosters, with very good players at each position and the potential for elite players as well. 

Stop hating Jordan Eberle. 

That's it. 

*Initially, this article suggested that Eberle is close to the 500-point mark, because neither the author nor anyone else can read. BLAME MY PROOFREADERS, NATION! (Thank you to those who caught that quickly, though). 

6e4628d4894419a7d14609846bb369f2
Hockey Development with the Arizona Coyotes. Embarrassing mom of a little goalie. If you want to learn more about goalies, I work with InGoal Magazine (and sometimes, I do stuff with USA Hockey). Was once told I'd have better access to scouting reports if I became an ice girl. Decided not to. Yes, I hate your favorite player.
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#101 The Last Big Bear
July 25 2016, 10:09PM
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To address the Johnny Gaudreau comparison, Johnny Hockey is the better player by a sound margin.

It's not just that his offensive production is better, but Guadreau is every inch as good defensively as he is offensively, within the defensive scheme that he's expected to play. Gaudreau doesn't cross-check power forwards out of the crease, but will backcheck all the way back to the end boards if needed, and has an excellent active stick in his assigned passing lanes.

As for cost-effectiveness, well, we'l see. There's a good chance he'll end up paid more than Eberle by a sound margin as well.

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#102 Reg Dunlop
July 25 2016, 10:10PM
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This.Is.NHL wrote:

i can bet in like game two we'll see Ebs Classic skate away from the hockey scrum in front of the net while 19 year old McDavid is getting pushed around, I seen it all last year and never said anything, this year I will that's all I'm saying.

I think you are confusing Ebs with Hall aka'King of the Skate-away'.

Chia had a season to evaluate team dynamics and *SUPRISE* Hallsie-baby was dealt. Look for good seasons from Nuge, Ebs and Yak with the Prom Queen in NJ.

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#103 RJ
July 25 2016, 10:29PM
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pkam wrote:

There are many ways to fault a player, but scorer ranking is a very bad one.

Crosby was ranked 174th in 11-12 because he only scored 37 pts (but he only played 22 games so almost 2 ppg).

He was 92 in PPG, 110th in points.

Did you read the article? They completely ignore his poor season. If you want to include his career year from five years ago, then I can focus on how poor he was last season.

Five years ago you could have argued he was one of the best in the NHL. His average from the last three years, or his totals from last season say otherwise.

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#104 IslandOIL
July 26 2016, 11:13PM
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There is absolutely no way that the Nation employs proofreaders. I can't think of an article I've read without errors in it. Love the articles. Just sayin' you might wanna read them once before posting.

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#105 ifiwasgm
July 26 2016, 11:14PM
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Does it matter any more? Trade themall

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#106 ifiwasgm
July 26 2016, 11:18PM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

I think you are confusing Ebs with Hall aka'King of the Skate-away'.

Chia had a season to evaluate team dynamics and *SUPRISE* Hallsie-baby was dealt. Look for good seasons from Nuge, Ebs and Yak with the Prom Queen in NJ.

Just remember, Lucic changes everything.

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#107 ifiwasgm
July 26 2016, 11:20PM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

I think you are confusing Ebs with Hall aka'King of the Skate-away'.

Chia had a season to evaluate team dynamics and *SUPRISE* Hallsie-baby was dealt. Look for good seasons from Nuge, Ebs and Yak with the Prom Queen in NJ.

Funny thing is Oilers would have won the "Matthews" sweepstakes by about, oh say 20pts if we woulda just got rid of that prom queen sooner.

(just think how good this team coulda been with a 1st over pick)

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