Jordan Eberle: A Right Wing Love Story

Sup, Oilers Nation? I’m here to let you in on a little secret today: 

Jordan Eberle isn’t elite. 

Wanna know another secret, though? It totally, absolutely does not matter

Defining Jordan Eberle

Story 1

Drafted 22nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2008, Eberle has become one of the most productive players in his draft class in the following handful of seasons. 

That’s not a subjective stat; he’s literally one of the top three point producers in his class. Only Steven Stamkos and Erik Karlsson have managed to rack up more points than him since hitting the NHL, and both have played at least 50 more games. Stamkos has played in 144 more! 

Bottom line: he’s put up more points than Mikkel Boedker (drafted 14 spots ahead of him), Derek Stepan, Adam Henrique, and Drew Doughty. In a draft class that certainly isn’t full of busts, he’s held his own. 

Overall, he’s put up 145 goals and 331 points in 425 games since hitting the NHL in 2010, finishing with at least 60 points three separate times and at least 70 points once. His only sub-20 goal seasons were his rookie year, where he put up 18 tallies in 69 games (still pretty nice, if you ask me), and the lockout-shortened year (in which he found the back of the net 18 times). 

If he doesn’t hit the 500-game club this year – and creep near that 400 point mark – *he’s almost certain to hit it the year following. At that point, he’ll be just 28. 

From a possession standpoint, Eberle is in a losing position, of course. He’s played on a poor possession club for his entire NHL career, never sniffing the postseason and playing with little to no veteran sheltering from the first time he took the ice. 

Still, he – like fellow (ex) Oilers winger Taylor Hall – has managed to hold his own. On a team that basically hit Sacramento Kings-level incompetence for what amounted to an entire decade, he’s posted possession numbers, both offensively and defensively, that align with top six talent. 

Here’s a look at him, comparing him to his draft class’s most ‘elite’ talent: 

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 2.40.13 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 2.40.35 PM

Translation? 

Stamkos has put up better Corsi numbers (which loosely correlate to possession), but not by an absurd amount – and he’s done so on a much better team. 

Stamkos has also found the back of the net more consistently, but Eberle has been a bit better at generating playmaking, based on his assist totals and A60 figures. 

Overall, Stamkos has been better – but not by much. 

Looking outside of his draft class, Eberle’s point production doesn’t exactly fade away, either. Of all forwards since 2010 with at least 5,000 minutes of ice time, Eberle ranks 14th in point production overall at even strength. When you account for all situations, he only falls to 32nd — and of the players who have outproduced him in all situations, nine of those players have won Stanley Cups in that time frame. Of the ones who outproduced him and haven’t seen results in the form of a championship? Names such as Patrick Marleau, Claude Giroux, Alex Ovechkin, and Stamkos grace that list. No other player who has failed to see the postseason since 2010 has managed to outproduce Eberle in that time frame.  

The Oilers have been absolutely miserable, but it certainly hasn’t been because Eberle has been any kind of slouch. 

Using the word ‘Elite’

Personally, I hate the word elite. 

I hate it. I really do. 

It’s subjective, for starters. What I consider elite at one position may be different from what another person considers elite at that position — and then you have to consider that what measures ‘eliteness’ varies from position to position. 

Can you be an elite shot-blocker? What about an elite stay-at-home defenseman, versus an elite defenseman? Don’t even get me started on elite goaltenders, either — we’d be here all day. 

As a result, I think that ‘eliteness’ is in the eyes of the beholder. One person may consider being the third highest-scoring player at any position in a particular draft class to make someone elite. Another may think that being one of the best playmakers at a particular position makes someone elite, or being the 32nd highest-scoring forward in the NHL since 2010 in all situations. 

Still others, though, are a bit pickier with the word elite. It’s like the arguments about ‘untouchable’ players during the trade deadline; depending on what you use as your qualifier for a word, extremely good talent may fall short of deserving certain accolades. 

Personally, I think that there are probably only four or five players in each conference that deserve the word ‘elite’ in any given situation. 

As a result? Eberle, who is probably one of the top 10 forwards in the Western Conference, fails to make the cut. 

THAT’S FINE. 

There are 30 teams in the NHL. If every single team had an elite defenseman, center, right winger, left winger, goaltender, shot blocker, powerplay specialist, and face-off guy, the word would lose its meaning. At best, teams probably only have one or two elite guys on their roster at any given time — and those are the championship-winning teams. 

For the Oilers, let’s assume that Connor McDavid is an elite center. 

(Who are we kidding. We’re not assuming it; of course he’s elite). 

Let’s also assume, for the time being, that Milan Lucic is an elite power forward. That’s two players who fit the bill for the ‘cream of the crop’, the best of the best. 

That also leaves Jordan Eberle on the outside, looking in as just a very very, extremely competent forward who is arguably one of the best right wingers in the entire Western Conference. 

Maybe we’ll still need to trade him. Maybe Oliver Ekman-Larsson will wear a track suit to a team meeting next year, Shane Doan will throw it into the locker room showers, and the Coyotes will look to move their elite left-shot defenseman. Maybe, at that point, Eberle will make perfect trade bait. 

In order to win a cup, though, you don’t need a roster of 22 ‘elite’ guys. Elite is a stupid word, full of subjectivity and misinterpretations. Cups are won by well-balanced rosters, with very good players at each position and the potential for elite players as well. 

Stop hating Jordan Eberle. 

That’s it. 

*Initially, this article suggested that Eberle is close to the 500-point mark, because neither the author nor anyone else can read. BLAME MY PROOFREADERS, NATION! (Thank you to those who caught that quickly, though). 

  • IRONman

    14 is 30 goals with 97

    We are Lucky to have him

    Hall is a huge loss. I do not agree with the Trade

    Ebs could hit 40 goals with 97 if they can go 80 games.

    I Believe. I do

    Play offs 2017.

  • madjam

    Jordan Eberle has been an elite RW for his entire NHL career , never finishing point wise lower than 9th for RWingers , despite his average playing time and playing for the Oilers . How other RWingers might fair under same handicaps and conditions he has had playing here , is questionable .

    Internationally at same age group he had in 19 games = 18 G,18A , for 36 points . In international matches he has 70 points in 56 games in 8 appearances .

    Was our scoring leader two years and only surpassed by Hall . Yet , when Hall injured after the All star game , Eberle catapulted to fouth best winger in league to finish out the season . His scoring ability remains constant every year , and generally remains healthy with last year being the only exception . Mr.Reliability when it comes to point production . Has he been in top ten RW over his time here ? Absolutely , and has been better than that every time , beyond any question .

  • I Remember the Orange Jerseys

    I’m certainly not a big fan. I believe Eberle is far too one dimensional to be called elite. He has great hands, but he’s soft on the fore-check, and his back-checking skills are virtually non-existent. Watching him coast back to his own zone when the opposition breaks out can drive you to drink.

    Nonetheless, I do expect him to have a very good year this coming season. Lucic, McDavid, and Eberle is a nice combination of skill, grit, and defensive awareness. Having a defense that can actually clear the zone and make a breakout pass is certainly going to contribute to his success as well.

    I’m cautiously optimistic that a little more success on the ice, and line mates that will place high demands on him, will push the dial north on his give-a-damn meter as well.

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Pop Quiz: who had the most hits last year:

    a) Jordan Eberle

    b) Shayne Gostisbehere

    c) Evgeni Malkin

    d) Nick Bonino

    e) Boyd Gordon

    f) Duncan Keith

    g) T.J. Brodie, or

    h) Loui Eriksson

    Answer: If you said “Jordan Eberle” you were right

    Q 2: Who had more hits last year: Henrik Sedin, Phil Kessel and Jason Spezza combined or Jordan Eberle?

    Answer: If you said “Jordan Eberle” you were right.

    Jordan Eberle doesn’t hit, but he hits three times as much as Phil Kessel, Henrik Sedin and Jason Spezza.
    Jordan Eberle doesn’t hit, but he hits more than Conn Smythe winner Duncan Keith, Calder Trophy runner-up Shayne Gostisbehere, and Flames wonder boy T.J.Brodie–all defensemen, by the way.

    I’ll wait right here while somebody writes the article of how Sedin, Keith, Spezza and Brodie are all too soft.

    *dies of old age, waiting*

    • McRaj

      Question, how many of those players would you hands-down take Eberle over?

      Answer: 2 (Bonino and Gordon) who are both Role players.

      Eberle is a great player, no doubt about it, but he is not ELITE.

        • McRaj

          That’s fine if you want to say that they are as non-physical as Eberle. But those players all have more individual and team achievements, as well as superior stats. I am not bashing Eberle, just saying he is not elite and not as good as those players.

          Again, that doesn’t mean is isn’t good, he is great, he is a first line right winger, but he is NOT ELITE.

    • Roberto

      So the Edmonton Statisticians are Homers too? Haha, just kidding, but I am very surprised by those (Somewhat cherrypicked? #JW) stats. I think it’s more about Defensively responsibility with Ebs, and his lack of back-checking occasionally. It just shouldn’t happen. No one expects Ebs to crush guys, but you can be hard to play against without tonnes of hits and I think these stats show that. I’d guess that Keith is considered better Defensively than Ebs around the league

      • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        “I think it’s more about Defensively responsibility with Ebs, and his lack of back-checking occasionally. It just shouldn’t happen. No one expects Ebs to crush guys, ”

        The criticism against Ebs is not singularly about back checking; it’s often more about some idea of him being soft–because, you know: scoring 25 goals or more in the NHL repeatedly can be done by anyone who’s skilled and soft. It’s that easy in this league.

        The Sedins have lived with a similar kind of criticism for the better part of their careers, “the Sisters,” and they don’t hit or kill penalties. But anyone who knows hockey knows they’re not soft–and I’m no fan of the Canucks but I’ll agree with that much about the Sedins.

        Eberle’s defensive game is about as good as Patrick Kane’s, except that Kane has got better with the role models of Hossa and Toews and Hjammy to learn from. Eberle has had no world-class role models to help him bring up his game. Maybe with Larsson in the line up, everyone will learn a thing or two.

      • YEGFan

        People are just mad that the team keeps losing and have decided to blame Jordan Eberle because he’s short and a forward.

        Eberle’s corsi numbers aren’t that bad, especially for being a young player with negligible veteran support. There really is nothing people can point to when they make the argument that he’s “soft.” The team loses and fans want a reason, so here is where the mob has landed today.

        His contract is completely in line with what he achieves, and his remaining contract is all for prime years. Sure you could you find other players who are better cap hits, but most contracts are significantly worse.

        There is no good reason to dislike Jordan Eberle being an Oiler. There is no good reason to not be ecstatic Jordan Eberle is an Oiler. People are just misplacing their frustration with an incompetent team.

  • McRaj

    Difference between Ebs and Johnny/Kane/Kessel is that the other 3 can drive the play on their own line. Eberle is a complimentary player, a damn good one, a first liner but not ELITE. Would anyone take Eberle over Kane, Tarasenko, Kucherov, Perry, Simmonds, Kessel, Voracek or Wheeler? Eberle is a borderline Top 10 Right Winger/Superstar but not elite.

    If Eberle was elite, he would hold value around the league. But he is one dimensional and over-paid and unfortunately a 65 point one dimensional over-paid player does not hold a lot of value.

    The Oilers are a better team with Eberle than without (considering his trade value) but that does not make him elite.

    There is only one elite player on the Oilers and his name is Connor McDavid. Hall was borderline elite but he is no longer here. Klefbom or Nurse have potential to develop into a #1 D-Man and possibly enter elite territory. Drai has that potential as well. Ebs and Nuge are great players but not ELITE.

    • pkam

      If Eberle is a 65 pt one dimensional player, then so is Kessel. His career ppg is 0.77, 0.01 less than Eberle. He only scored more than 65 ppg twice in his 10 year career and Eberle has done it once in his 6 year career.

      If Kessel can drive a play, than Eberle can too. Remember Eberle in 2011-12? He scored 76 pts in 78 games, he continued to produce when Hall and RNH were injured at the end of the season. Yes it is only one season. But how many season had Kessel drive a play?

      • McRaj

        Well let’s see. Kessel is a 5 time 30 goal scorer, Eberle only once. Since Kessel’s third season (age 20 season) his career points per season per 82 games is 70 points while since Eberle’s second season (age 21 season) his career points per season per 82 games is 64 points per game.

        Kessel always drove the play and carried his line and was the best player on his team without a question during his time in Toronto. Eberle has never been the best player on the team and his one career season (inflated by a high shooting percentage) was his only season where he finished with more than 30 goals and 70 points. Hall played 61 games and Nuge 62. As for you saying Ebs kept producing towards the end of that year, he had 15 points in 19 games in March and April. Translates 65 points per 82 games. Hey what do you know, that’s his career per 82 average.

        I’m sorry but stop being a homer. And the funny thing is that no one is calling Kessel elite, but give me Kessel any day over Eberle.

        • pkam

          I don’t think I said Eberle is an elite player or Kessel is, do I? I believe all I said is if Eberle is a 65 point one dimensional player, then Kessel is too. If Kessel can drive a play, Eberle can too. I don’t even know what is the definition of an elite player.

          If you insist Kessle is a 70 pts instead of 65 pts one dimensional player, I am okay with that. But I believe Kessel has more TOI than Eberle and has better defense to play with then Eberle has. I believe if we swap the two and give Kessel Eberle’s TOI, he won’t be a 70 pts players and 3 time 30 goal scorer. And Eberle may have a better point per 82 games all these years.

          If Eberle was not driving a play near season end of 11-12, then who was? He continued to produce at a rate of 65 pt/82 games without Hall and Nuge, the other 2 best players in the team. That is not driving the play at that time? If he was not driving the play at that time, who was so Eberle didn’t fall off the cliff?

          And I have no doubt Kessel is more talented than Eberle, but Kessel is paid about 2M more per season. At the same salary, I will take Kessel over Eberle. But Kessel at 8.2M and Eberle at 6.0M, I will take Eberle.

  • Oilfaninvan

    IF Eberle is on a line with Lucic and McDavid all season and he stays healthy, he should produce 70+ points easily. He will have more space and he can finish the numerous chances Connor will give him every game.

  • Bucknuck

    Thank you Cat! Eberle is a terrific player. He’s a legitimate first line RW. A sniper. Remember all those years the oilers needed a sniper and didn’t have one… and now people thumb their noses at one because he is ‘soft’.

    The only player on the team that is a better goal scorer than Eberle is McDavid. He’s not a bum. He is not easy to replace. He is not a player you want to trade unless you are getting back something very good in return.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Ebs is lazy.

    Learn to back check, cycle and go to the net.

    Learn how to dump and chase.

    Learn not to pass it behind your back without looking.

    Become a complete player you bum.

    Just like this team improved to .500 without Schultz, this team will improve when Ebs is gone.

    If Ebs had half the heart of Yak he wouldn’t be such a polarizing figure.

    Should have been Ebs instead of Hall.

  • RJ

    Since he finished 110th in scoring last season. shouldn’t the article be just a bit more critical? Like, is $6m AAV too much for player who finished 110th scoring and brought nothing else to the table?

    • pkam

      There are many ways to fault a player, but scorer ranking is a very bad one.

      Crosby was ranked 174th in 11-12 because he only scored 37 pts (but he only played 22 games so almost 2 ppg).

      • RJ

        He was 92 in PPG, 110th in points.

        Did you read the article? They completely ignore his poor season. If you want to include his career year from five years ago, then I can focus on how poor he was last season.

        Five years ago you could have argued he was one of the best in the NHL. His average from the last three years, or his totals from last season say otherwise.

  • This.Is.NHL

    i can bet in like game two we’ll see Ebs Classic skate away from the hockey scrum in front of the net while 19 year old McDavid is getting pushed around, I seen it all last year and never said anything, this year I will that’s all I’m saying.

    • Reg Dunlop

      I think you are confusing Ebs with Hall aka’King of the Skate-away’.

      Chia had a season to evaluate team dynamics and *SUPRISE* Hallsie-baby was dealt. Look for good seasons from Nuge, Ebs and Yak with the Prom Queen in NJ.

  • tomger

    WOW guys calm down on the ebs hate your gonna make wanye go full Brownlee and bring the ban hammer that’s his boy and it’s summer were supposed to be talking about the oil getting the cup before the depression of another season rolls in

  • The Last Big Bear

    Eberle is an above-average 1st line RW.

    His defensive game is putrid, which is down to poor coaching and a poor corporate culture that has sewered the Oilers for years.

    His offensive game is top-tier, and if deployed and supported properly, can outweigh his defensive deficiencies.

    Eberle is worth his salary, and while the article is correct that he’s not elite, he’s not too far from it.

  • The Last Big Bear

    To address the Johnny Gaudreau comparison, Johnny Hockey is the better player by a sound margin.

    It’s not just that his offensive production is better, but Guadreau is every inch as good defensively as he is offensively, within the defensive scheme that he’s expected to play. Gaudreau doesn’t cross-check power forwards out of the crease, but will backcheck all the way back to the end boards if needed, and has an excellent active stick in his assigned passing lanes.

    As for cost-effectiveness, well, we’l see. There’s a good chance he’ll end up paid more than Eberle by a sound margin as well.

  • IslandOIL

    There is absolutely no way that the Nation employs proofreaders. I can’t think of an article I’ve read without errors in it. Love the articles. Just sayin’ you might wanna read them once before posting.