Jordan Eberle - Unrealistic Expectations

(Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images) Content © 2010 Getty Images All rights reserved. via view.picapp.com

 

"Jordan Eberle is more famous than his talent level warrants. That's not a criticism, it is a statement of fact."


That's Lowetide talking about Jordan Eberle's reputation outpacing the player.  He's right, of course, because Eberle's World Junior heroics have kept him in the national consciousness for the last two years.  His performances have also increased his stature in the eyes of folks already putting too much stock into prospects, an Edmonton pastime since 1992.

The lack of news in August gave us a chance to explore unrealistic expectations for the incoming class of Edmonton rookies, and specifically the long-term expectations of Oiler fans on Taylor Hall and Hall's rookie year projections.  The look at Gagner's comparables rounds out my round robin of optimistic, pessimistic and realistic articles on young Oilers.  Let it be said that I'm more than just the resident pessimist.

Lowetide received criticism at his site, at Oilersnation, and on various and sundry message boards for under-selling Jordan Eberle.  His critics listed his shot, his brain, his want, and his history of being clutch as reasons for Eberle deserving all of these accolades and more.

One idea that's been put forth in the upwelling of support for Jordan Eberle is that he scored so many points for the Regina Pats in the WHL last season.  Eberle scored 106 in 57 games, to be exact.  Eberle's most vocal fans would have us believe that this is a special and significant accomplishment, a number that points toward something significant.  Let's investigate. 

Eberle posted his number as a 19-year-old (actually as a hockey-aged 19-year-old), making it a bit less significant than if he had done the same as an 18-year-old.  Below is a list of every 100-point season posted by 19-year-olds in the WHL since 2000. 

Player Year Team GP G A P
Justin Mapletoft 2000 Red Deer Rebels 70 43 77 120
Layne Ulmer 2000 Swift Current Broncos 68 63 56 119
Kyle Wanvig 2000 Red Deer Rebels 69 55 46 101
Jordan Krestanovich 2000 Calgary Hitmen 70 40 60 100
Eric Johansson 2001 Tri-City Americans 69 44 59 103
Erik Christensen 2002 Kamloops Blazers 67 54 54 108
Jesse Schultz 2002 Kelowna Rockets 72 53 51 104
Jeremy Williams 2003 Swift Current Broncos 68 52 49 101
Eric Fehr 2004 Brandon Wheat Kings 71 59 52 111
Mark Santorelli 2007 Chilliwack Bruins 72 27 74 101
Casey Pierro-Zabotel 2008 Vancouver Giants 72 36 79 115
Brett Sonne 2008 Calgary Hitmen 62 48 52 100
Brandon Kozun 2009 Calgary Hitmen 65 32 75 107
Jordan Eberle 2009 Regina Pats 57 50 56 106

 

There are fourteen such seasons in total, and of the players that hit the century mark, only Erik Christensen and Eric Fehr have become regular NHL players, with Fehr being the only offensive threat at the NHL level.  Based on this accomplishment alone, there is no follow-on history of success.

I can already hear or read the next argument:  "But look at his points per game!  The World Junior Championship and his trip to the AHL robbed him of a 133 point season!"  And while Eberle did average 1.86 points per game, that doesn't seem to predict future success either.  Going all the way back to 1990, there have been ten "full-season" 19-year-olds to average 1.66 points per game - 90% of Eberle's total - or better.  Those players are listed below:

Player Year Team P/G
Hnat Domenichelli 1995 Kamloops Blazers 2.39
Jason Miller 1990 Medicine Hat Tigers 2.06
Marty Murray 1994 Brandon Wheat Kings 1.97
Maxim Bets 1992 Spokane Chiefs 1.96
Scott Gomez 1998 Tri-City Americans 1.86
Jeff Nelson 1991 Prince Albert Raiders 1.77
Domenic Pittis 1993 Lethbridge Hurricanes 1.76
Valeri Bure 1993 Spokane Chiefs 1.73
Kimbi Daniels 1990 Swift Current Broncos 1.71
Brad Moran 1998 Calgary Hitmen 1.66

 

Of the players that dominated the WHL as 19-year-olds, only Marty Murray, Scott Gomez, and Valeri Bure became NHL regulars, and only Gomez became a regular offensive threat.  Whether Bure was a regular threat is debatable.

None of this is to diminish what Eberle has accomplished in his young career, and I'm not saying that Eberle is going to be a bust.  But an argument based on his points scored as a 19-year-old in the WHL is one on shaky ground.

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