I’m fascinated how often the analysis of a player often focuses on what they can’t do, rather than what they are good at.
If you were just new to Edmonton and had never watched an NHL game, you’d think Jordan Eberle is the worst player in the NHL based on many of the conversations and articles being written. Eberle had a down year and then didn’t score a goal in 13 playoff games, so according to many he is worthless. He should be traded away for pennies on the dollar, because he simply has no chance of helping the Oilers again.
You’re sure about that? You’re certain?
Yes, Eberle struggled in the playoffs, but he isn’t the first scorer to do so and he won’t be the last.
He had a tough season, but an off-year for him still included 20 goals and 51 points. The haters will point to no game winning goals, like somehow that is the meaningful stat of the week.
If you want to evaluate a player, you evaluate their career, not just one playoffs, or even one season.
Eberle needs to play better than he did this season. He needs to finish plays like he did the previous six seasons. Eberle actually made strides in his defensive game for the first time in his career, but his main job is to score, and while some people want him to be more than he is, the numbers prove he is a consistent scorer.
The hardest thing to do in the NHL is produce points consistently. Very few can do it. Sadly only five players in the NHL averaged one point-per-game the past two seasons.
Eberle is not a driver. He is not a superstar, but he is a proven, consistent point producer, and last I checked goals and assists still matter a lot in the NHL.
Since he entered the NHL in 2010/2011, Eberle sits 24th in goals and 30th in points. In the entire NHL only 23 players have scored more goals since he debuted in the league, but one 20-goal season and suddenly he is worthless?
It boggles the mind.
Be frustrated with Eberle. Expect him to produce closer to 27 goals and 60 points, but making emotional comments about the player makes some look foolish, especially when you take a step back and compare his offensive numbers to the rest of the NHL.
Since he entered the league he has scored more goals than Marian Hossa, Zach Parise, Claude Giroux, Bobby Ryan, Matt Duchene, Milan Lucic, TJ Oshie and others. Of course there are other elements to the game, and I’m not saying he is better than Hossa or others, but when he has proven to be that productive you don’t just give him away for nothing.
This isn’t an article defending the player. He needs to be better next season. Instead, it is here so you can look at his production and see how it compares to the rest of the NHL.
I’m sure some of you are yelling at the screen, saying, “Who cares about his first few seasons? He hasn’t been good the past two!”
Okay, let’s focus on the past two seasons.
Eberle, the coaches, management, fans and media all felt he had a down year offensively. No one argues that.
Okay, but somehow even with a bad season, he still finished 58th among NHL players in goals.
Not even two players per team have averaged more goals than Eberle. He sits 46th in EV goals over the past two seasons.
Scoring goals has value, and considering Todd McLellan used Eberle in much tougher matchups this season, it is accurate to say he did actually improve defensively.
He struggled finishing. He needs to regain his confidence, get a bit stronger and rediscover his scoring touch.
The ironic part about his season is he fired the most shots on goal, 208, in his seven year career. He simply didn’t finish plays, and while some will state his shots came from the outside, if you compare his shot distance to previous years his average was actually closer to the net this year than in some previous ones. He wasn’t a perimeter shooter, he just didn’t finish.
I wonder how much changing his stick impacted his game. He didn’t look comfortable with it from the start of the season. I noticed he wasn’t able to push the puck, instead he had to stickhandle it more and that slowed him down. Would a small tweak to his curve help him? I’m not an expect on it, but it was noticeable to me how often he came through the neutral zone or entered the offensive zone with the puck, and his speed was impacted by his inability to just push the puck.
WHO HE SCORES AGAINST
It seems this has become a thing lately. This season many have said he only scored against non-playoff teams. He had 24 of his 51 points against playoff teams, but only seven goals.
In his career, however, the suggestion he has only feasted on bottom feeders is incorrect.
**PTSPG is points-per-game***
He has 20+ points versus eight NHL teams and four of them — Chi, SJ, NSH and MINNY — have been quality teams the past seven seasons. There isn’t an obvious difference in point production on average versus good or bad teams. He has produced against some good teams, and struggled against others, and he’s done the same against some bad teams. He has struggled mightily against the LA Kings, however, oddly enough this past season he produced four points in five games versus the Kings. He’d only had four points in his first 18 games against them.
Eberle is not above criticism, far from it. I spoke often this season about how he needed to be better, especially in the playoffs. There is nothing wrong with accurately evaluating a player’s game and his potential moving forward, but scouting a player involves assessing their areas of strengths and their deficiencies.
The Oilers could trade him. I won’t be surprised if they do at some point, but I think it is ridiculous how people want to ignore the strengths of his game when debating his value. You can dislike him, but if you only focus on the areas of his game you don’t like, then you overlook the positive attributes of his play.
He is a proven NHL point producer. He has proven it for seven seasons, and despite falsehoods about only scoring against weak teams, scoring is extremely valuable. I wouldn’t just give him away and think Jesse Puljujarvi, Anton Slepyshev or Tyler Pitlick will easily replace his points. It is very difficult to produce consistently in the NHL, and even when Eberle has a few down years he is still among the top-60 goal scorers in the NHL.
To me, that has value.
ULTIMATE SPORTS FAN
For the seventh consecutive year, we are doing our Ultimate Sports Fan package in support of charity. On June 11th and 12th, I am riding in the 190km MS Bike Tour, and I’ve come up with a pretty good package for the diehard sports fan.
Here’s how it works: You make a $125 donation and you get one entry. If you make a $250 donation you get two entries, and so on.
We only take 100 entries and we will raise $12,500 for MS. The draw will be Friday, June 9th.
This year’s winner will win the following prizes and more.: The final package is valued at over $6,000.00
- The “Oilers experience” at the Oilers home opener in October, which includes tickets, parking, dinner and a behind the scenes tour.
- A pair of Edmonton Eskimos season tickets in the lower bowl.
- A signed, game used Mark Letestu stick.
- A signed Adarius Bowman jersey.
- 20 tickets any Oil Kings game. Also, you will get an Oil King player of your choice to
come to your backyard rink or minor hockey practice for an hour. (Between November 1st and December 15th.)
- Ten tickets to the Rugby Canada Super Series on Saturday, June 17th at Ellerslie Park presented by MB Events. Canada vs USA in the U20 at noon and then Canada’s Men’s team battles Romania at 3 p.m.
- A signed Oilers jersey by every player from this year’s team.
- $500 GC for dinner at Vivo Ristorante
Keep in mind this sold out in two weeks last year, so if you want a chance to win and help end MS get in the draw today.
You can make your donation here. (click Donate Now to the right of my picture).
Thank you and good luck.
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