The Edmonton Oilers struck gold when selecting Jordan Eberle 22nd overall in the 2008 entry draft. How good can he be? What should we expect from him this coming season? What is reasonable?

I started doing ‘reasonable expectations’ series a few years ago when it became clear that we as fans are pretty awful at predicting the future. One of the main reasons? We’re fans. I’m certainly a person who is prone to bias (Marc Pouliot, anyone?) and those expectations usually end up in disappointment when the players we cheer for fall short of their goals.

What’s that old line from Seinfield’s George? It’s not you it’s me? That’s the ticket.


First of all, a few words about Jordan Eberle. I think he’s top drawer. I do believe that Stu MacGregor’s selection of Eberle #22 overall may end up being the best bit of draft work he’ll ever do, and am thrilled the young man is an Oiler.

When I set out to do ‘reasonable expectations’ every year, the idea is to create a fair ‘line in the sand’ for each player. Considering their past performance, their age, their future role on the team and the circumstances under which they scored in the previous season.

Eberle’s case this year is somewhat unique. We don’t really have enough information (three years is usually good, but not always: Ryan Smyth’s first four seasons were wildly dissimilar), Eberle had a major jump across the board and we don’t know how much of what he did is sustainable at last season’s levels.


The major thrust of RE is trying to draw a ‘reasonable’ line in the sand for a specific player. I don’t consider the RE series to be “predictions” per se. David Staples suggested in his original article that the Eberle number was a prediction and Jason Gregor picked up on it yesterday. But if we were in a ‘dobber hockey’ hockey pool then 55 points might be a little low. ‘Reasonable expectations’ is designed to create a line in the sand that says “this is the reasonable spot.” Lower would be a disappointment, higher would be a thrill! 

I am sincere in suggesting that we should be thrilled if Jordan Eberle hits 60 points this season, and that more would represent an outstanding year.


We have no right to expect Jordan Eberle to score 76 points again this season. Why? Because he doesn’t have the track record (yet) for us to reasonably project this kind of season again next year. Will he score 40 in a season? Don’t know. Is the 11-12 season his career year? Don’t know.

We have two NHL seasons to go on, and Eberle increased his point total by 16 GOALS AND 33 POINTS! I believe it’s very reasonable to ask how he got there and if he can do it again. A few reasons for my projection:

  • 3.08 5×5/60, ranking him 2nd in the NHL. He’s a fine young player, but it is not reasonable to expect the same performance next season. He was tied for 7th in the entire NHL in even strength points.
  • His zone start was 60%. We can’t assume he’ll get the same treatment this coming season. What if Yakupov gets the push on a line without Eberle? It could happen
  • Eberle’s shooting percentage was a huge leap from his rookie year. It is not reasonable to assume he can sustain it.
  • The PP. He went 10-10-20 on the PP. With Hemsky healthy and Yakupov’s shot also available, we can’t assume Eberle will score at that level this coming season. Eberle was tied for 43rd in PP points this past season.



If Jordan Eberle scored 76 points again this season we can move the ‘reasonable expectation’ forward because it’ll be closer to a proven level of ability. For a player to go from 43 point to 76 points with a zone start push and a giant leap in 5×5 and powerplay scoring is one thing, but if he can do it again? Music!

One final note: I am so impressed with the posters at Oilers Nation and Oilers bloggers and posters across the board. From everything I’ve encountered–the Staples article to Jason’s to the comments to my conversation with Jason and Robin Brownlee on JG’s show yesterday–EVERYONE involved engaged in the conversation without making things personal or bringing the discussion down with counter productive verbal.

Five years ago on many blogs and websites this kind of discussion would have derailed into name calling and general tomfoolery. I am so impressed with Oilers Nation, the posters here, my blog, the Cult of Hockey and everyone who took time to put their opinions into the internet ether. I also enjoyed–but was not surprised by–the high level of discussion with Jason and Robin Brownlee yesterday.

Now. Let’s hope Jordan Eberle kicks the hell out of next season and we can re-visit this question and have a giant snicker at my RE.

All the best,



  • OilClog

    I won’t be told that my “High Expectations” of my beloved team and it’s players are “Unrealistic”. When it comes to my Oilers, I shoot for the Moon and “Reality” be damned! I won’t Hedge my bets by finding the “Happy Medium” between realistic and unrealistic so I can sound better at the end of the year(if not good “I told ya”, if good “I was close”). I don’t post for popularity or to have people think I am a “Knowledgeable fan” I post because I Believe in My Team. I will continue to Believe that my Team will excel beyond expectations. I have seen it before and, someday, will see it again(lotta naysayers when The Boys In The Back Of The Bus started out too…). I guess that means that if the Oil do as well as I hope, I am a genius, eh? And Lowetide can say “I was close”…

  • OilClog

    To the 3-0 Vancouver Score… Yeah, the last few off seasons we have had to see this. Can it be a default Edmonton 100 Calgary 0. That way I would smile each time I see it.

    Besides, I don’t remember the last time OilersNation had a winning game posted there over the summer.

  • Aitch

    Nicely said Allan.

    I must admit, still trying to get my head around difference between “prediction” and “reasonable expectation.”

    Is is a kind a prediction, it seems to me. Is a reasonable expectation best seen as a “conservative prediction” perhaps?

    I say this because when others make predictions, I’m sure they think they’re being reasonable as well, otherwise they’d make some other prediction.

    Finally, what is your prediction for Eberle next year? 🙂

    • Lowetide


      RE asks “at what point would a season be neither disappointing or outstanding?” Is that what your 68 point prediction is suggesting?

      As for Eberle next year, that’s the beauty of laying one season on another. We get another photo this winter.

  • Lowetide

    Meanwhile, since the lockout, the following players have scored at least 70 points in a season before or at age 23 and in one of their first two seasons, per H-R: Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin, Stamkos, Backstrom, E. Staal, Vanek, Bergeron, Semin, Kane, Kopitar, Eberle, Stastny.

    I know the sample size is small, but this makes sense to me. Eberle hitting 70 points in his second season is pretty good. He’s could easily be an all-star level player. But sustaining that elite performance for three, four, five years, or even two years, that’s ridiculously hard. A good player can have one great season.

  • It’s a good thing I have been working on my science projects in an underwater laboratory or I would have gone on the radio too and called everyone involved names before dissolving into tears and running around the radio station naked until they had to call the SWAT Team.

    End scene.

    Eberle production in 12-13: GP 43* G 87 A 113 200 PTS

    *Strike shortened season

  • Eberles points totals are only dependant on games played,in fact I dont even bother with these types of thoughts because old water has already passed under the bridge and new water isnt that much different than the old stuff,nobody giftwrapped anything in the NHL for Ebbs,in fact a lot of pundits were waiting to see if he was going to be able to live up to the hype.Case closed.

    If our top six can stay healthy there is no limit to the number of points they can put up,we are still unable to make an assesment without intimate system data,because without a system first –we dont know how to evaluate our manpower intangibles.If we play one iota more defensive next year we will be picking first overall for a record 4th time IMHO.

    I have always wondered how fans and pros can even begin to ponder season performance without spitting out the words system and teammates in every sentence.

    Heres the real question,will any of our players make any significant changes top their games over the summer???I doubt it,how much have you or I changed over the last three months??

    With a system that focuses on flow and offence and not on defense I say Ebbs will remain at the top of the points leaderboard on this team or any team,he will put up as many points as he is pushed to score to stay on top,he is a competitorg,he just seems to somehow fool people,not me,he wants to be the best of the bunch,he isnt catalysed by the NHL he is catalysed by the team he plays on and the talent here pushes him to his maximum every night.

    I see Jordans intangibles as being his superspeed ability to read the play and not in terms of what it will evolve in to but in terms of in the moment split second reaction positional changes to intercept plays or to turn them into something offensive,Jordan finds tiny transitional cracks in the plays as they evolve and utilises them as an asset to always be in the right place at the right time,in the last seconds of games he is focused or ultra-focused on positional play so he doesnt puck follow he goes to the best holes.

    Because I believe Nugent Hopkins is going to break out this year and Hall will begin to establish the 30 goal mark,Yakupov will push guys,and Gagner will likely lead the team offensively behind or beside Nuge,Ebbs will stay on the first line and benefit from Nuges breakout season,so i say OVER a PPG pace number of games decideing final totals.Top three scorers at the end of the year,Gagner-Nuge-Ebbs—in any given order.Someone is going to have a monster year and drag people with him thats for sure.

    I feel the evolvement of maturity levels will result in more goals from almost everywhere.Our core isnt wide-eyed anymore they are hungry and willing to give blood at the door.

    I have to stress that I am baseing this on an offensive system.If we play an IOTA more defensive next year I peg Ebbs for 65 pts and still in the top three with everyone adjusted down to the 65 pt level,give or take a few pts.

    Teams already expect full press offense from us and are going to treat us that way eternally,so we might as well accept we cannot EVER play Possum,we might as well just open up every night and go for the blowout—-everyone needs a reputation and they get one wether they like it or not so why not choose ours before someone else gives us one??

    One of our strengths has got to be playing a full 60mins of offensive pressure,we need to establish a reputation as a team that is coached to play all out for 60mins and run the score up or suffer in practice,we need to taske pride in running up the point totals through system execution,not through bullying,remember every regular season game is a playoff step,so we need to show the league how important those games are to us,so important we will bury them over a full 60 mins scoreing 4 or more goals per game and TEN if we can,this is not a respect issue it is a team that has missed the playoffs so much it is starved for rewards,so we have a right to become predators and define our own destinys,lets choose our own reputation and lets make it be that we are Goal Hunters who will light you up for a FULL 60 mins,it is a championship attitude,and whats the fear anyways ,what are opponents going to do,take something more out on us than they already plan to??Ha ha ha,we need to maintain the iniative for 82 games and continue to evolve our teams persona.

    I predict this is the path management may also recognise,and therefore i believe we will see an offensive system and Ebbs will put up over a point per game,and the ceiling is his to define,he could well stay in the top ten all year in NHL scoreing and I think he will,there were no gaurantees who would hit the stratosphere first here,we just knew there would be fire-works sooner than later.

    I dont think we will see any drop off at all points wise from Ebbs or anyone else,because i think we were held back in many ways last year from executeing the 60 mins of offense we require to be sucessfull with our skill level.

    And if by some act of God,Mr.kruger embraces and executes the NewAge Hockey System we will be an early playoff lock and set a new bar for excellence here in Edmonton,I love the pressure and believe that this is a pivotal year for many things with a lot of contracts comeing up in the next few years,if we dont show signs of a defined team persona of maddog Cup fanatics who will ruin you over 82 games,we might see difficultys with our young guns staying here,playtime is over–its time to become predators and that means running up the scores on EVERYONE,and getting our young stars addicted to the feeling before we have to do more serious contract negotiations with them,lets make them want to stay right now by feeding them teams every night to feast on,who wouldnt want to stick around for that kind of fun??

    Ebbs-Gagne-Nuge—I just cant decide who will squeak to the top over the entire season,who will stay healthy enough to put in the most games???This is the key with this much talent,it becomes an issue of health and committment to 82 games,this is something you CAN teach so we are in a great position,lets let them have it this year Oilers,light em up Ebbs.

      • Wax Man Riley

        Thank you ,I am sure Sam Gagner appreciates being addressed and referred to properly.Perfect illustration of something I need to work a little harder on,correct spelling may seem like something less than a priority,but no one ever intentionally mis-addresses another –although accidentally in certain context it may be documented in print as such if left uncorrected.Nice heads up,thanks.

        • Wax Man Riley

          Pointing out commenters that misspell his name kind of just a running joke (in my head anyway) here at ON.;p

          Plus, I thought it was funny (again, in my head), that you obviously put quite a bit of time and thought into your comment, and out of all of it, I chirp barely a sentence nitpicking his name lol.