Behind The Bench: Jordan Eberle
Born: May 15, 1990
Wt: 174 lbs
Draft: 22nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2008
Plays for: Edmonton Oilers, Center/Right Wing, Shoots Right
Jersey No.: #14
Regular Season: 69 GP – 18 G – 25 A – 43 P
Playoffs: 0 GP – 0 G – 0 A – 0 P
During the 2009 World Junior Championships semi-finals against Russia, Eberle scored his second goal of the night with 5.4 seconds left in regulation and scored the eventual shootout winner. Lifting Canada to a 6-5 win over Russia.
During the 2010 World Junior Championship gold medal game against the United States and with Canada down 5-3 with three minutes left in regulation, Eberle scored twice to force overtime. Eberle became Canada’s all-time leading goal scorer in the tournament with 14. Eberle finished the tournament voted as the Most Valuable Player and Top Forward.
At the start of the 07/08 season, Eberle was ranked 7th among WHL skaters, by mid season he was ranked 24th among all North American skaters. By the final rankings, Eberle was ranked 33rd overall. The Edmonton Oilers drafted Eberle 22nd overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. After being selected by the Oilers, Eberle stated, “Growing up in Regina, we don’t exactly have an NHL team there, the (Regina) Pats were the next closest (team) . . . I grew up just loving the Oilers.”
After his performance in the 2009 WJC and the end of his WHL season, the Oilers announced on March 23, 2009, Eberle signed a three-year ELC. Eberle spent the remainder of the year with the Oilers AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. He appeared in 9 games with Falcons, recording 3 goals and 6 assists good for 9 points. Eberle had his ELC slide a year because he did not play in more than 11 NHL games, this is commonly know as the “entry-level slide.”
He spent the following season back with the Regina Pats for his final WHL season. He recorded 50 goals and 56 assists for 106 points. Eberle finished second in goal scoring and points in the WHL. He finished his season with the Falcons again, playing in 11 games and tallied 14 points.
Eberle made the Oilers opening night roster and scored his first NHL goal on the penalty kill. It was perhaps the best looking first NHL goal in NHL history. He has a blistering start to the season and was pegged as the early Calder trophy winner. Unfortunately for Eberle, he suffered a high ankle sprain on January 4, 2011 that caused him to miss 13 games. Even though he missed 13 games, Eberle still finished the season strong. Eberle finished the season with 18 goals and 25 assists for 43 points. He finished the season 6th in rookie scoring. Eberle and Taylor Hall are they only 2 rookies to finish in the top 15 for rooki scoring while playing less than 70 games.
The Oilers are counting on Eberle to be an important piece in their rebuild, along with Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Eberle will likely play on Edmonton’s rookie line with Hall and Nugent-Hopkins, if the Oiler brass feel Nugent-Hopkins is ready for the big time. If not, Ebs will likely flank Gagner to start the season. Eberle will get plenty of ice time despite any on ice mistakes he makes. Tom Renney has been very good in developing him and Hall in their first season. He’ll primarily play on the first line facing the leagues toughest competition every night and playing on the first unit power play.
Eberle has improved every year he’s been in a league. In his first year with the Regina Pats of the WHL, Eberle recorded 28 goals and 27 assists for 55 points in 66 games. The following year with the Pats, he recorded 42 goals and 33 assists for 75 goals in 70 games. In his third year with the Pats, he tallied 35 goals and 39 assists for 74 points but did so in 61 games, 9 less than the year before. Then in his final year, he posted a 106-point season in 57 games. Eberle’s yearly improvement isn’t isolated to just the WHL. In 9 AHL games with the Falcons, he recorded 9 points, the following year, he played in 11 AHL games and recorded 14 points. It’s highly likely, his trend of improvement will carry over to the NHL level and its very likely he will increase his point totals from last year. If Eberle plays in all 82 games for the Oilers next season, 25 goals and 35 assists will be a very reachable goal for him.
Jordan Eberle is not your prototypical Canadian player. He is not about grit, toughness and physical play. Eberle is about intelligence, finesse and skill. He possesses skills and intelligence that can’t be taught. He is both intelligent and creative in the offensive zone. He is capable of creating plays out of nothing and sees the ice as well as anyone his age. Eberle is most effective in the offensive zone, in-close to the goaltender. He likes to carry the puck out from behind the net and force goalies to make a save. He has very exceptional offensive skills. Eberle has a very quick and accurate wrist shot, he likes to hold onto the puck and can be very creative in getting by defensemen. As good of as scorer as he is, Eberle is a good play maker too. He’s able to create time and space for his line mates and can thread the needle through traffic as well as anyone else in the game.
Eberle is not one dimensional player, he is also proficient in his own zone, he is not a liability in his own zone. He’ll follow through with his checks cleanly and he is pretty good at stealing the puck. He receives significant penalty kill time but has limited success at the NHL level. Just a reminder that his first NHL goal was on the penalty kill. The only reason Eberle did not go in the top 10 in his draft was because of his size, at 5’10” and 164 lbs not a lot of NHL teams feel you can produce at the NHL level. Like many of new breed of smaller wingers, Eberle has deceptive lower body strength and is very hard to knock off the puck. He is very good at protecting the puck and stealing the puck from opposing forwards. Eberle is a great point producer but he wants to be known in the league as a two-way forward. He still needs to work on his defensive game at the NHL level before that happens though.
There’s only three things Eberle needs to work on; his strength, speed and defensive coverage. He is already good in all these area’s, he just needs to improve in each area to make him an elite winger.
Eberle will become part of Edmonton’s big three and it’s only a matter of time until he, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins dominate the NHL and bring Edmonton back into its former glory. Of course, they’ll need a stronger supporting cast then what they have now but Edmonton and Eberle are trending in the right direction.
If his first NHL goal is any indication of how his NHL career will be, it’s going to be a beauty.
Behind The Bench appears Monday to Friday only on puckpuckgoose.com.