The upside to missing the World Championships

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The Edmonton Oilers and Hockey Canada have had a long relationship, and few players on the current roster exemplify it better than Jordan Eberle.

Eberle was a famous player even before his first NHL game thanks to his exploits at the World Juniors, but he’s been a good soldier at the World Championships, too, joining the team for four consecutive tournaments from 2010 to 2013.

This year, Eberle didn’t go, but that might be for the best.

“I’ve never felt better”

Eberle spoke to reporters in Edmonton on Tuesday, and said that the extra time off made a significant difference for him.
“I’ve never felt better,” he said. “I think not going to the Worlds I had an extra month to train and correct my body and I feel better than I have ever before. That being said, I think there’s a little difference between how you feel off the ice and how you feel on the ice.”

Asked if he’d done anything in particular differently this year, the Oilers forward circled back to the extra time off.

“More than anything I just had more time to train,” he answered. “I think with being in the worlds the last four years, whenever we get off they’re just about to go into the Stanley Cup Finals.”

“It feels like I’ve played in four Stanley Cups,” he added, laughing.

There was some criticism of the decision by Eberle and others to sit out this year’s World Championships. There are certainly some positives to playing – one of the most commonly cited being a chance for skaters on non-playoff teams to gain experience in a high-pressure tournament.

Eberle, though, has seen his fair share of high pressure situations. Just 24 years old, he has already appeared in 46 games at U-18, U-20 and senior level tournaments for Hockey Canada. From an Oilers perspective, it’s more than fair to wonder how important additional experience is when weighted against the opportunity for a longer summer recuperation.

Arcobello

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Eberle was also asked about the Oilers’ centre situation, and expressed confidence in Mark Arcobello’s ability to play in the majors.

“I’ve played with Arco in the AHL and when he was up here,” he said. “I think he showed that he can play here when he was here last year. He performed very well. I think with contract issues and guys stepping in he kind of got pushed out of the way, but now that there’s a spot kind of open I know for him he’s probably training hard and looking to take over that. It should be interesting. I think any time you get into camp and there’s a couple of spots open it makes camp a lot more interesting and guys battle that much harder.”

Arcobello isn’t exactly proven, but Eberle’s point is a good one to remember. Arcobello wasn’t shuffled down the lineup because his performance wasn’t up-to-snuff; he was excellent filling in for Sam Gagner but eventually Gagner came back and the Oilers’ coaching staff decided to go with the guy with the long track record instead of the guy who’d been great as a fill-in.

That meant Arcobello got bumped down, and as he could clear waivers, eventually outside the Oilers lineup. I’m not saying I’d feel comfortable with Arcobello penciled into the top-nine of an NHL team I was running (in the Oilers shoes, having just one spot for Arcobello and Draisaitl and whoever else to compete for would be great) but I do think the player did everything that could realistically be expected of him, and then a little more than that.

Other Highlights

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  • Eberle mentioned both in the scrum and in a separate one-on-one with the Oilers’ Chris Westcott that one of the things he appreciated about Edmonton’s new additions was the size they brought. Purcell, Pouliot, Fayne, Nikitin and Aulie is a pretty massive group to add to the NHL roster in just one summer.
  • Asked about the hire of analytics guy Tyler Dellow, Eberle mentioned some of the stats feedback the players were getting last year, saying that they saw on-ice scoring chances after each game. It’s no surprise that the Oilers’ coaches were tracking that; it’s a little surprising that it was going directly to the players like that.
  • Talking informally to a high-level coach this summer, he mentioned that while he thought stats had an important place in the game, he didn’t think they were all that valuable to players and that it was up to the coaches to draw the right conclusions and distill them to their charges. Eberle’s comment about Corsi (“I think if you start thinking on the ice, you’re shooting the puck and you think your Corsi’s going up that’s where you have issues”) reinforces for me that raw numbers aren’t necessarily going to help a player with his game.
  • 24% body fat

    Corsi is a great measure as long as none of the players understand it or know that it is being used to evaluate them and assess their value. Knowing how to inflate your corsi in a contract year by just shooting the puck more when you know you are not going to score biases the measure. It should be used to track the natural behaviour of players, but becomes useless the moment that players know it has become important and thus learn to manipulate it. Not saying all players do that, or that this is important enough on an NHL wide scale to even being to consider re-addressing the metric. But its something to think about. You cant bias your goals and assists, or your plus minus that easily by just taking more meaningless shots. But then again, maybe those players trying to up their corsi by just taking meaningless shots will actually score more, which in fact is what we hope would happen if corsi is truly a rock solid measure. Just shoot the puck for goodness sakes #hemsky

    • Thumby

      Shooting more and scoring is good. shooting more at the expense of making the best play, while improving Corsi, will kill your point totals…which is going to cost you money. I doubt players will try to pad Corsi numbers rather than make the right play.

  • Spydyr

    Ebs, you forgot you were out of the playoffs by November 1st last year.

    And you have the gall to say this “It feels like I’ve played in four Stanley Cups,” he added, laughing.

    Players from the LA Kings would laugh at you young man

  • I’m glad someone finally wrote about this. As soon as they didn’t go to the World’s I was like ‘why?’ – but now I’m optimistic. Hall with an extra 10 lbs. could be very dangerous. Nuge with any extra weight goes a long way. They can train and focus on small details of their game (remember when Hall said he worked on his passing a lot in the off season, and then came back as good a playmaker as Nuge?). Leon and Nail are training together, Ebs is in tip top form, we haven’t heard from Hall or Nuge yet, but I’m guessing they’re going to both take big steps forward this year due to the extra time off.

  • I always find it funny that people put so much pressure on these kids to go play in the Worlds.

    I think after that disaster of a season last year, the best thing was for all the kids to take a little bit of time off, train off ice and re-focus the brain.

  • Spydyr

    The Oilers have had plenty of time to train in the off season the last eight years.

    Playing later in the year can only help and prepare players for the one day they do actually make the playoffs.

    • I’ll agree that playing late in the year is the right thing to do – but recovering from injuries has been a huge part of their summer…they’ve always been behind the eight ball because (in Hall’s case for example) he’s always been recovering: before we drafted Hall he was recovering from some massive hits in the Memorial Cup, then he was dealing with an ankle injury that he suffered in a fight in his first season, then shoulders and concussions in other seasons…a healthy summer will go a long way for him and the others.

  • Some players can handle the feedback that stats provide because they have the mental make-up (Hall for example) to understand that stats don’t tell the whole story, rather they are just one of many analytics tools. Whereas, Schremp and Omark are likely guys could not handle this type of stats feedback, IMO…

    It is difficult to pass judgment on the Oil here for providing analytics information because we don’t know the context or circumstance or how the feedback was provided….

    interesting though…..

  • Leef O'Golin

    Isn’t that kind of odd that the players would be directly handed those kinds of stats? Now that Dellow has been hired would they be receiving more?

  • 24% body fat

    If all this international experience is good, why has Eberles regular teams never been any good, even in the WHL?

    Lets see what happens this year when he didnt play in the extra competitions. Hopefully this is the right decision and it pays off.

    • IM80

      So, you are suggesting that because Eberle played for Canada he should be able to carry his club teams to championships?….ridiculous

      ……maybe you are confusing hockey with the Davis Cup…..

      • 24% body fat

        By no means is that what I am saying.

        I am saying maybe a full healthy year will stabalize him to play at his potential.

        This is also the reality that people should believe he is a complimentary player to Hall and Nugent Hopkins.

        If he couldnt lead his junior team into deep playoff runs than how can he do it in the NHL.

        For everyone who cals him captain clutch, what else has he won other than the world juniors where he was an overager playing on a stacked team,

        He Played a few playoff games in the WHL, hasnt won anything in the NHL or played in a playoff game, and a meazly bronze in the Worlds.

        People need to stop living in the fantasy land of 2009 world juniors and see him as a 60-65 point player which he is.

        • Bucknuck

          Do you realize that 65 points last year puts him in the top 30 of players in the entire NHL? The year before, he was 41st… and the year before that he was 16th?

          Whatever point you are trying to make about Eberle being “just” a 65 point player in the NHL is lost because you are missing the point that 65 points is so difficult that on average only ONE player per team can do it.

          That’s pretty darn good, no?

          EDIT: My point is that Eberle is not one of the myriad problems that riddle the Oilers. He’s part of the solution

          • 24% body fat

            My original point was, if our players or anyones for that matter were not involved in World championships and world juniors and stuff like that than maybe they would have more in them to contribute more to there regular team.

            In my very first comment, this is what i meant by lets see what Eberle will be now that he has rested and trained properly in the off season as apposed to going to a tournament that we dont send our best anyways. Why take it seriously.

            I mean Monohan made the team last year and only had 32 points.

            EDIT: I never said he was the problem, The problem is playing in tournaments that dont do him any good and hinder the oilers.

  • ComeAtMeDog

    I think we are gonna make a big jump this year . No more shaky doobs to dig us a massive hole . The boys are pumped to go .. I can’t wait for the fist game .