By Request: Eberle’s Offensive Production Compared

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.

  • @ John K:

    You're absolutely right about simple points per game. We don't know game situation, we don't know TOI, but junior leagues don't provide us with that information. If you want to dig it up sometime I'd be happy to present it, but I don't have time to dig through game sheets and I doubt you do either.

    Another factor you didn't mention is age in their draft year. Gagner and Kane were drafted in the same year but are almost a full year apart in age – surely that has some impact.

    There are some levellers: most top prospects get a ton of ice-time, first line and power-play, so that makes PPG closer to scoring rates than it would be in the NHL (at least for top prospects). The other factor to keep in mind is that traditionally, points per game (with some minor adjustments for age, relative plus/minus, etc.) has been comparable to NHL scouting rankings in predicting future NHL players from the junior level. Mostly I think that's because some teams get stupid ("Scott Parker in the first round! Woo!") but still.

    The fact is that this is not an indicator that we can make sweeping statements from. It's far from perfect.

    But it's still useful.

  • but absolutely nothing is a sure thing. At this point I think that the idea of Hall and Eberle in Oilers silks is the only thing that gets some fans out of bed these days.

    I think this article needs some MS paint unicorns and flowers 🙂 What about looking at some players that were drafted in other rounds that ended up being surprise hits?

    We do all need a slap in the face from reality, thanks for bringing it Jonathan.

  • danjo1

    To quote Battlestar Galactica: You are the harbinger of death, Jonathan Willis.

    That does have me a little scared, but it looks like Eberle has a good nose for where the puck is going to be. Also, let's not forget that Pouliot was playing with Sidney Crosby on Rimouski.

    I'm not sure how easy it is (very likely easier said than done), but if you can do a comparison for picks over Quinn's coaching career, I wonder if we would get a different picture. All those players, with the exception of O'Sullivan (and Eberle of course) were developed under MacTavish's staff. I'm not saying that one coach is better or worse, just that coaching may be a difference in how players turn out.

    PS: I <3 the Edit button. Good work!

  • Of course there are several problems with the simple PPG metric. The primary one is TOI, TOI:PP, TOI:SH. Scoring rates over time are far more valuable, always have been, always will be. I don't have the time as I'm at work, but if you want to present statistical evidence that other people are going to evaluate players with, please use points per 60 and pp points per 60 etc.

    Second, team strength. I imagine the London Knights massively dominant offensive teams have something to say about Schremp and Gagner's production.

    Finally, we've seen two years in a row that the kid is clutch clutch clutch. It's not measured in stats very well (GWG GTG I guess), but I'm not tremendously worried about Eberle performing under pressure. He also has a great attitude, and by all the literature I've read he's very coach-able, and very competitive.

    So unlike you, I will go out on a limb and say that I believe at worst hes a bottom six guy with production in the Erat range (although eberle is 2 inches shorter
    :).

  • Homie

    Nice work on these numbers. It shows that junior numbers do not make any player a slam dunk in the NHL, but anyone with half a brain in their head knows that. However, Eberle is the best player in the WHL by a long shot right now and shows more promise than any other player the Oilers have in the system. Just trying to be optimistic.

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      In terms of current developing players, though… is he?

      These stats were as a result of being asked to choose between Gagner and Eberle. Who do you go with?

  • @ Ogden Brother Jr.:

    That's very true – what we don't know is tremendous. Unfortunately, NHL teams have to constantly evaluate their players based on the information they have.

    Tyler Dellow put into words the other day a concept I'd been doing intuitively without saying it: each player has a range of possibilities, each one with a different probability. So Junior Player X might have a 10% shot at being a first ling guy, a 25% shot at being a second line guy, a 40% shot at being a third line guy, and so on.

    If I had to bet right now on what I figure Jordan Eberle will eventually turn into, I'd probably put my money on "second-liner". He might be better than that, he might be worse than that – I can't be sure – but that strikes me as the most likely outcome.

  • @ Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things:

    Unfortunately, junior leagues don't break down point production by game situation, so the only way to dig it up is to go through the game sheets for each league.

    Also unfortunately, I don't have the computer skillset required to write a script that will do the data mining for me, so I'd have to go through them one-by-one and I simply don't have the time to go through the whole group (though I may do it for Eberle).

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      Oh. Ew. Yeah don't do that, haha. I was thinking the numbers were handy.

      Who does Kane most closely resemble in this bunch? (I'm trying to think, how many years did he have in junior?)

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    Are there supplementary power play PPG numbers you could graph? If the curves looks markedly different there, the similarities in Schremp/Eberle's development might not be so daunting…

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    Great comparison, although I might add with all the talent mentioned with the names above one consideration to take into account is the size factor. Putting up big numbers in jrs is one thing but once you start playing with the big boys it is entirely different. This is my fear with Eberle. I'm hoping he will put on some muscle and size prior to next year. He definatley has the skill but the big Dmen in the NHL make it tough on the smaller players. With the current Oil roster we know all about this. Our Sweedish draft pick on the other hand may not have the numbers but with his size at 6'-2" and already 205, I feel he is a safer bet to make more of an impact on the Oil next year.

    • Nesquik

      Correct!!Next draft the Oilers brass should consider a player like Cam Fowler instead of Taylor Hall, which I believe is 6'0'' if I'm not wrong, we dont need more small players in our system!!!!

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    The more I look at these types of stats the more it becomes harder to come up with opinion. I mean take the different leagues in to effect, take in the quality of the teams, take whether or not the player is a shoot first or pass first player.

    Nice to see stats like this, but really the only thing that will give us an accurate assesment is waiting and seeing what Eberle does.

  • @ Minister Towel Boy:

    Off the top of my head:

    Eberle's played for a fairly good team in Regina – not stunning, but fairly good.

    Patrick O'Sullivan played for what I believe to be the worst junior team in the last 20 years. Pouliot played for a miserable and then excellent Rimouski team, while Schremp and Gagner played for powerhouse teams in London.

    I can't recall how good the teams Hemsky and Stoll played for were.

    • Regina is not very good. Last year they went 27-39-1-5 and this year are at 17-23-3-0.

      One good sign is his percentage of team offense, because at a glance it looks like he is coming in over the 60% mark.

      Do you have the comparables for that by any chance? The only one I remember seeing is Gagner who, if I remember right, scored at around 54% or something like that.

  • Willis. You are a machine. Seriously.

    On Eberle's recent uptick in PPG, he said it himself in an interview last night. He said he thinks it's the confidence in his game as the reason why he's become a more effective player.

    I have to ask though….what were placings of the teams that these players played on. I mean were the Schremp and Gagner numbers padded by a crazy awesome team? Are Eberle's numbers skewed by playing on a team with less offensive skill? I don't know the answers…I'm just curious..and does it effect the numbers in any way? I guess it's more of a question of what were these player's linemates like.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Some people just can't understand stats and their appliacation.

    All this is, is showing history and in a round about way probabilities.