The Edmonton Oilers are starting to build a solid young core that looks primed to contend very soon. One could credit the team’s scouting and management staff, but when you have three straight first overall picks not even Mike Milbury could screw that up. Well, that may be pushing it a bit, but you get the point.
Most people remember Jordan Eberle as the young kid that scored multiple clutch goals for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships. And in so doing made Pierre McGuire develop a man crush the likes of which that would make Dion Phaneuf jealous. Today, after two seasons in the National Hockey League, Eberle has developed into a solid pro and led the Oilers in scoring last year by a wide margin.
Eberle recorded 34 goals and 42 assists for 76 points in 2011-12. The next closest Oiler was Taylor Hall who finished 23 points behind Eberle. The right winger from Regina, Saskatchewan also improved his plus/minus from year one to year two as he went from a minus-12 to a plus-4.
His excellent campaign was a little unheralded, perhaps due to the fact that the Oilers once again had a very tough year when it came to the standings. You certainly can’t ignore how consistent Eberle was though. His 61.5% of games played with a point was tops on Edmonton.
|Rank||Name||Pos||Age||Yrs||Team||GR||GP||Total||PPG||GP w/||% of GP|
Not only that, but Eberle had a stretch in 2011-12 where he earned points in 16 of 18 games. He also added 21 multi-point games and he had five games where he posted three or more points.
One thing that is clear with the Oilers is that as they continue to add young talent it helps those players further develop who are already in the lineup. A player that Eberle didn’t get the chance to play with in his rookie season was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who was drafted first overall in 2011. Last year he played substantial minutes with Nugent-Hopkins.
|19.86%||EV||14 EBERLE,JORDAN - 4 HALL,TAYLOR - 93 NUGENT-HOPKINS,RYAN|
|11.28%||EV||14 EBERLE,JORDAN - 89 GAGNER,SAM - 4 HALL,TAYLOR|
|9.91%||EV||14 EBERLE,JORDAN - 93 NUGENT-HOPKINS,RYAN - 94 SMYTH,RYAN|
|6.77%||EV||14 EBERLE,JORDAN - 28 JONES,RYAN - 93 NUGENT-HOPKINS,RYAN|
14 EBERLE,JORDAN - 4 HALL,TAYLOR - 10 HORCOFF,SHAWN - 93 NUGENT-HOPKINS,RYAN
Nugent-Hopkins had a solid rookie season as he compiled 52 points in just 62 games which was good enough for third on the Oilers in scoring. RNH is also a tremendous passer and that had a profound effect on Eberle’s 34 goals. His goal total nearly doubled from year one to year two and was no doubt due to RNH’s set-up skills. Had Nugent-Hopkins not missed 20 games due to injury, Eberle’s totals could have even been higher. Here is a look at how often the two players teamed up for production.
|Str||On Ice Line Combination||Points||%Total|
|EV||EBERLE,JORDAN - HALL,TAYLOR - NUGENT-HOPKINS,RYAN||10||13.16%|
|EV||EBERLE,JORDAN - NUGENT-HOPKINS,RYAN - SMYTH,RYAN||10||13.16%|
|PP||EBERLE,JORDAN - HALL,TAYLOR - HORCOFF,SHAWN - NUGENT-HOPKINS,RYAN||9||11.84%|
|EV||EBERLE,JORDAN - GAGNER,SAM - HALL,TAYLOR||9||11.84%|
|EV||EBERLE,JORDAN - GAGNER,SAM - SMYTH,RYAN||6||7.89%|
|EV||EBERLE,JORDAN - JONES,RYAN - NUGENT-HOPKINS,RYAN||4||5.26%|
|EV||EBERLE,JORDAN - HARTIKAINEN,TEEMU - NUGENT-HOPKINS,RYAN||3||3.95%|
|EV||EBERLE,JORDAN - HORCOFF,SHAWN - SMYTH,RYAN||3||3.95%|
|PP||EBERLE,JORDAN - GAGNER,SAM - HALL,TAYLOR - HORCOFF,SHAWN||2||2.63%|
|EV||EBERLE,JORDAN - GAGNER,SAM - NUGENT-HOPKINS,RYAN||2||2.63%|
|EV||BELANGER,ERIC - EBERLE,JORDAN - SMYTH,RYAN||2||2.63%|
|PP||EBERLE,JORDAN - GAGNER,SAM - HORCOFF,SHAWN - NUGENT-HOPKINS,RYAN||2||2.63%|
|PP||EBERLE,JORDAN - HALL,TAYLOR - NUGENT-HOPKINS,RYAN||1||1.32%|
|PP||EBERLE,JORDAN - GAGNER,SAM - HALL,TAYLOR - HORCOFF,SHAWN - NUGENT-HOPKINS,RYAN||1||1.32%|
Looking ahead to 2012-13, things look to be getting even better for Eberle and the Oilers. It remains to be seen where first overall draft pick Nail Yakupov will fit in. Will he make a smooth transition to the pros like Eberle did? Or will he take a little longer to develop and mature? If he does make the leap he will no doubt improve the overall forward depth of the team. Depth and scoring from multiple lines doesn’t allow opponents to check just one guy, which ultimately frees up more space for a guy like Eberle.
When you have the type of talent that Eberle does, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to bury a player in the AHL for years. Playing in major competitions like the World Juniors can give a player the experience of competing on a big stage. When they finally do arrive in the NHL, the bright lights aren’t so blinding. Poolies can take comfort in the fact that even though Eberle recorded 76 points it was still just his second season. He may have only scratched the surface.