Jordan Eberle is next in our series on the players on the current active roster for the Edmonton Oilers.
Naturally, we expect fully that Eberle will be on the opening night roster in October, barring a surprise trade from Craig MacTavish. While his defensive play was uneven this year, he still potted a team leading 28 goals and 65 points. He fell to earth slightly after strong campaigns the last two years, but can still contribute quite a bit to the Oilers’ top line.
Let’s have a look at his stats card, courtesy of our friends at hockeydb.com:
There’s not a lot I can say about Jordan Eberle that’s bad. He still capable of wicked passes, sometimes no look, and dangles with the best in the league. After a 65 point season over 80 games, he is an important part of the Oilers puzzle in terms of putting a winning product on the ice.
However, fans constantly pointed out that he was a defensive liability. When he was put with linemates who were less proficient defensively, he tended to pick up some of their bad habits. In turn , his penchant for giveaways and poorer defensive awareness would come to light. When he was returned to the top line near the end of the season, however, he began to improve defending the puck. Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gained defensive acumen as the season wore on. MacT spoke about the players finally buying in to the system later in the year at this week’s press conference. The top line has and is the defacto leadership group for the Edmonton Oilers.
While it’s true that Eberle weakened his game with sub-par linemates, he also came away with a relatively low -11 +/- rating. He wasn’t on the ice for as many goals against as others on the team (witness Yakupov’s -33), but Eberle suffered more in areas that aren’t necessarily statistically measured.
It is my belief that when the top trio for the Oilers were first unleashed, they had an artificially high opinion of their own ability. Hall could crash the net, Eberle puck move and shoot with a toe drag, RNH skating with vision–but it lacked cohesion and puck protection. Now, we are seeing these three players come together. Should Eberle’s defensive game suffer over the next year, he is likely to become a major trade piece.
OIL ON WHYTE OUTLOOK: If MacT provides a scoring second line, keeping Eberle with Hall and RNH, the ensuing chemistry should be explosive. BOXCARS: 32-41-73 over 82 games.