A NOTE ABOUT REASONABLE

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.

CROSSING JORDAN

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.

WHAT IS REASONABLE?

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.

WHY?

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.

 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

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,

Lowetide.

 

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Good article,Jill H is hot.I think Jordan will be a prolific goal scorer his whole career and will someday be challenging for the Rocket Richard trophy.

  • 24% body fat

    good read and clarification, If oilersnation is so professional these days than why cant the same expectations for Thomas Drance at canucks army be held. Very unprofessional language and disappointed in the whole nation for allowing it.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Gene Principe: Not sure if Lowetide is trying to make Jordan cross or trying to make it with ”
    Crossing Jordan”.

    Not likely Geno would even reach that far for a bad pun. I realize your article is not a “prediction” as much as probability. I think the 76 point season will be tough to replicate, but I believe the number will be closer to 70 than 60. The guy I am worried about is Hall. Not many come back at 100% confidence after major shoulder surgery. Hoping he is the exception.

  • French Toast Mafia

    love the site and the articles!! here in Pennsylvania all we get is either Flyers or Penguins 🙁 UGH!! I bleed Blue & Orange since I was 10! Go Oilers. Love me some OilersNation 🙂

  • I think Eberle is going to get better and better. We will have to wait and see if that results in more or less points going forward. I see him being less sheltered this year, facing tougher competition and tougher zone starts.

    Both him and Nuge are a year older, probably stronger and a little heavier which will help win puck battles. The oilers have also added a couple of weapons in Yak and Schultz. With Hemsky being healthy and Petry having more experience it is not unreasonable to think that there are a number of options that give this scoring line a stronger 3rd then they had most of last year. The passes off of the back end should be better, and I see them getting more minutes.

    I can’t wait for the season to start. I think Ebs will always have a high shooting percentage playing with Nuge but i do think it will slip from last year.

  • It seems like the largest reason people are predicting Eberle’s totals to go down is shot percentage, but no one seems to be talking on why his percentage is so good. True, he’s against the statistics when it comes to other comparables, but you’d have to expect the Nuge had something to do with Eberle being able to put home such a high percentage of his shots. But won’t Eberle and Nuge be one year better this year? Plus with a legitimate second scoring line, it’s likely teams shut down lines will have a tougher time matching up on the road.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Lots of really good players, playing with other realy good players put up shooting %’s similar to Eberle’s, all of them came back down to a more sustainable level.

      RNH and Eberle are very very good, but not good enough to do what other pairs of very, very good players weren’t capable of doing.

      • No, I absolutely realize that and I’ve seen the tables, tandems like Thorton and Marlaue certainly jump out at me, but were any of those tandems rookies who’s development curve was still on the upswing and not on a plateau? And who knows, maybe Eberle’s peaked, but I doubt that’s the same for Nuge. The fact he is only going to get better, means there’s a chance so could the people playing with him.

          • I agree that the chance of sustaining 18+ is unlikely.

            However I do think there is a sniper in Eberle, and receiving passes from the likes of RNH will increase a players s%

            I think it is likely that RNH will be better this year and play more games. The 3rd on this line was a revolving door and other then Hall was not a legit top 6 forward. Upgrading the other winger and adding another offensive Dman adds some additional weapons to this line.

            I see them getting more icetime and more points as a line. I see Ebs shooting a career average of closer to 16% which is still very high. With the additional icetime and better support cast I see his shots on net increasing and his point total remaining 70+

          • ubermiguel

            Even 16% seems a bit high, has any player in the last 20 years averaged that over a career? I looked up a few players: Sakic and Jagr are 14%, Yzerman & Selanne are 15%.

            That’s the career range I think (hope? pray?) Eberle can match.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Lots of work has and is being done on the effect that elite passers will have on other players shooting %.

            I haven’t spent a tonne of time going through it, but from what I have seen it appears that elite playmakes like Sedin and Brad Richards can, on average add about 1% to teamates shooting percentage.

            I think we can all agree that Sedin and Richards are pretty good examples of players that we hope RNH can be… ie it’s highly unlikely that he’s better then them.

  • I much prefer the methodology behind the RE series versus the usual fan over-reactions. Its fun to predict that the Oil will make the playoffs, win the cup and 2/3 of the top 9 will lead the league in scoring but that is NHL ’12 material.

    Of course, tell that to all the yahoos in the 300s of RX1 that scream and yell at Horc, Hemmer and Whitney every game. Not to mention Jones, Smid, Gagner, Belanger, etc.

    Thanks for all the time and effort LT. This Oiler fan really appreciates it. (and the pretty ladies)

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Any chance someone can take down the “Last Game” result showing the Cancucks beating Oilers 3-0? Sick of being reminded of it every time I come here. Thanks.

  • John Chambers

    I live in Winnipeg and had a conversation pre-draft with a couple of hockey buddies that went like this:

    JC: Hey, think the Jets would trade Kane and Enstrom for the Oilers #1 pick + Gagner?

    HB’s: No, the Jets don’t need rookies. You know who I’d make that deal for though – Eberle. Eberle is a beauty.

    Eberle is a beauty. On this we can all agree.