Since 2000-01 and including this season, just 10 21-year old forwards have managed a point per game or better in the NHL. Jordan Eberle is one of them.
|Player||Season||GP||G||A||PTS||+/-||PIM||S||S%||TOI||G/GM||A /GM||PTS /GM|
That’s pretty good company to be keeping.
There are a few points worth noting:
1. Icetime. Eberle’s ice-time has been getting a lot of attention the last while, and it’s easy to understand why. It’s worth keeping in mind that Eberle’s TOI is only for a partial season, while most of the players listed here are full-season players, but even so his totals are pretty low in comparison to the rest of these guys.
2. Shooting percentage/shot totals. Very few players on this list have a shooting percentage as high as Eberle; Joe Thornton (20.4%) and Alex Tanguay (20.0%) are the only other guys at 20% or higher. Thornton set his career high in goals that year – he’d go on to win the Hart Trophy, but he has never scored 37 goals in a season again. Meanwhile, Alex Tanguay’s 27-goal total remains the second-best number in his career, despite the fact that he’s one of if not the highest efficiency shooter in the NHL. That brings us to shot totals: outside of the pass-first guys, Eberle’s one of the lowest volume shooters on this list.
3. As things stand, that’s kind of a great place to be.
Of course, there are some worries too. I pointed out earlier today that Eberle’s on-ice shooting percentage (note: on-ice, meaning it includes not just him but also his linemates as well) was insanely high, and Tyler Dellow went into some further detail on some of the other things that are going Eberle’s way right now.
What would be really nice right now would be if Tom Renney changed strategy with Eberle. Rather than limiting his ice-time and using him in specific situations, why not throw him out into the deep end?
It’s a strategy that would seem to help in a lot of ways. From a development angle, playing Eberle against top opposition will help ease him into a role that the Oilers want him playing eventually anyway. Giving him more minutes isn’t going to hurt that development any either. It will appease fans who want to see him play more. Perhaps most importantly, it will give the Oilers a better idea of whether or not he can keep things up.
(List above courtesy of hockey-reference.com)