Rookie Camp: Jordan Eberle Watch

With the long weekend behind us, preparations for the upcoming season are beginning in earnest. For the Oilers, right now the focus is on the prospects attending the team’s rookie camp.

I know that my favourite feature of the Oilers’ official site is the interview footage with the players and coaches, and they’ve done a fine job of that so far through rookie camp, with players like Jordan Eberle, Alex Plante, Philippe Cornet, and Brett Breitkreuz all doing interviews. The theme in a lot of these conversations was what the players need to work on, and in that respect it was a real pleasure to watch Jordan Eberle’s interview.

Going right back to draft day, there were three things that were frequently highlighted in scouting reports as possible negatives for Jordan Eberle: size, speed, and effort level. Based on his comments at camp, Eberle’s well aware of what he needs to work on:

I don’t think I gained as much weight as I wanted to, but I definitely feel a lot stronger and faster, and that’s the main thing I took out of [last year]. As far as skating-wise, I worked really hard on my skating with Steve [Serdachny] and definitely brought that up.

Eberle can’t do anything about his height, but the fact that he’s working on gaining weight is a positive. That’s one of the key reasons I don’t think Eberle will stick with the Oilers out of camp, actually: with very few exceptions, physical maturity is a must for NHL players, and Eberle’s probably better served getting stronger back in junior where he won’t be lining up against the big players that NHL teams covet.

I also like how Eberle doesn’t hide the fact that he would have liked to gain more weight, and that honesty gives more credence to his evaluation of his skating. The Oilers like drafting intelligent players, and Eberle (a scholastic player of the year in junior) seems to fit that mold and also seems blessed with self-awareness. It’s going to be fun following him this season, wherever he plays.

Another reason that I’m fairly confident that Eberle will be returned to junior is a comment made by Tom Renney yesterday. It’s hard not to assume that he was talking about Jordan Eberle when he told the media this:

Without a doubt – keep your expectations realistic. That goes hand in hand with the organizations as well. I think the biggest mistake of all is organizations that really project a player as being in the starting lineup on opening night, and that’s very dangerous.

It remains to be seen if the Oilers’ organization is going to become more dedicated to not rushing their prospects, but so far it seems as if that’s the direction Steve Tambellini wants to go; personally, I think it’s a very good idea.

  • Hippy

    @ Ender the Dragon:

    I don't think Mikhnov will ever play in the AHL again, and I don't think the Oilers will risk a one-way contract on him.

    Too bad, because he seems to have the skill based on his KHL play.

  • Hippy

    It will be interesting to see how Eberle does at main camp – I caught the rookie session on Monday – he looked great. Skating was fantastic, and he's slippery like Patrick Kane. Of course, this is only compared to the other young'ns.

    Would love to see him do another year in junior, a solid year in the AHL (maybe?) then up here – may be tempting to bring him up next year if he keeps improving and growing quickly. He's smart…knows where the puck is going and has the capacity to make extremely quick, accurate passes.

    I thought both he and Plante stood out. Although so did Katz' unexpected arrival!

  • Hippy

    Cam wrote:

    Thanks for giving us a fresh post,JW!
    BruceM wrote:
    No need to rush Eberle this season, we already have a game of Musical Smurfs.
    In answer to that. I pulled data off of NHL.com for the NW Division comparing size and weight of our roster with that of the other four teams.
    Avg Weight/Height – Forwards
    204.2 / 6′ 1.65″ – Minnesota Wild
    197.7 / 6′ 0.62″ – Edmonton Oilers
    193.5 / 6′ 0.36″ – Vancouver Canucks
    199.1 / 6′ 0.96″ – Calgary Flames
    194.4 / 6′ 0.23″ – Colorado Avalanche
    Avg Weight/Height – Defense
    205.9 / 6′ 1.6″ – Minnesota Wild
    209.5 / 6′ 1.8″ – Edmonton Oilers
    204.7 / 6′ 1.5″ – Vancouver Canucks
    199.1 / 6′ 2.8″ – Calgary Flames
    198.7 / 6′ 0.6″ – Colorado Avalanche
    Compared to the other teams in the NW, the Oilers are comparable. We even have the heaviest defensive core. I don’t know if we need to freak out as much as we are.
    I think the issue for the Oilers is balance: the second line is entirely made up of small people… but the team as a whole doesn’t look so bad.

    Ya, like you said, I think the problem is where the size is. The bottom 6 is pretty solid size wise…. Really though, IMO anyways, we just need to replace one of O'sully/Cogs with a Hartnell/Horton/Michalek guy and we'd be fine physically.

  • Hippy

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    As I was reviewing other Jonathan-less sites in your absence, I ran across a name I hadn't thought about in awhile; Alexei Mikhnov. It looks like he's still toiling away in the KHL and while he's not a point-a-game kind of guy, he'd still seem to be somewhat useful to the Oilers in theory. What do you think, Jon; is there any chance this guy ever comes back to North America?

  • Hippy

    @ OvenChicken8:

    KP says that both MPS and Lander (who play together in Timra) are honoring the last year of contracts. We'll seem them both in camp next year and decisions will be made then.

  • Hippy

    Thanks for giving us a fresh post,JW!

    BruceM wrote:

    No need to rush Eberle this season, we already have a game of Musical Smurfs.

    In answer to that. I pulled data off of NHL.com for the NW Division comparing size and weight of our roster with that of the other four teams.

    Avg Weight/Height – Forwards
    204.2 / 6' 1.65" – Minnesota Wild
    197.7 / 6' 0.62" – Edmonton Oilers
    193.5 / 6' 0.36" – Vancouver Canucks
    199.1 / 6' 0.96" – Calgary Flames
    194.4 / 6' 0.23" – Colorado Avalanche

    Avg Weight/Height – Defense
    205.9 / 6' 1.6" – Minnesota Wild
    209.5 / 6' 1.8" – Edmonton Oilers
    204.7 / 6' 1.5" – Vancouver Canucks
    199.1 / 6' 2.8" – Calgary Flames
    198.7 / 6' 0.6" – Colorado Avalanche

    Compared to the other teams in the NW, the Oilers are comparable. We even have the heaviest defensive core. I don't know if we need to freak out as much as we are.

    I think the issue for the Oilers is balance: the second line is entirely made up of small people… but the team as a whole doesn't look so bad.

  • Hippy

    OvenChicken8 wrote:

    Chris. wrote:
    No. His season is already underway in Europe.
    I wonder if they’ll bring him over next year to play in the WHL or OHL to get him accustomed to the North American style.

    I hope they do, Flames did that with Backlund last year.

  • Hippy

    @ Ogden Brother:

    I've been out of the loop this past weekend (a 26-hour round trip to Vancouver by car will do that to you) but I don't believe there's been much.

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    @ Ogden Brother:
    I believe MPS started training camp with his SEL team back in August.
    Plante had some things to say; here are the quotes that grabbed my attention:
    “They want me to keep improving my footspeed and my mobility; that’s something that’s always huge for a bigger guy. They also want me to pick up on some of the smaller things, how to separate guys from the puck and move the puck out of our own zone.”
    “That’s something that I’ve been trying to get better at in my off-ice over the summer, trying to get a little bit bigger, trying to improve my foot speed and like I said hopefully it shows.”

    Thanks, has their been anything from the orginization regarding his (Plante) progress?

  • Hippy

    Chris. wrote:

    No. His season is already underway in Europe.

    I wonder if they'll bring him over next year to play in the WHL or OHL to get him accustomed to the North American style.

  • Hippy

    @ Ogden Brother:

    I believe MPS started training camp with his SEL team back in August.

    Plante had some things to say; here are the quotes that grabbed my attention:

    “They want me to keep improving my footspeed and my mobility; that’s something that’s always huge for a bigger guy. They also want me to pick up on some of the smaller things, how to separate guys from the puck and move the puck out of our own zone.”

    “That’s something that I’ve been trying to get better at in my off-ice over the summer, trying to get a little bit bigger, trying to improve my foot speed and like I said hopefully it shows.”

  • Hippy

    Thanks for the blog JW, I was begining to go through ON withdrawl.

    Couple things:

    – Is MPS at rookie camp?

    – Any update on Plante's progress? He'd be a great "suprise" pick to pan out, and would round out the defense nicely when Souray/Vish are on their way out.

  • Hippy

    Still think Eberle might get a couple NHL games before he is sent down to the WHL. IF he excels in TC, I would think he gets about 2-4 games in the big league.