I was inspired to compare these two players when Jason Gregor made the following comment over at OilersNation:
Why are you rating O’Sullivan that much higher than Eberle? O’Sullivan hasn’t panned out to being anything more than a bottom end 2nd liner right now. Eberle could be that or he could be less, but I can guarantee you that the Oilers would consider moving Eberle a bigger cost than O’Sullivan.
I think calling O’Sullivan a "bottom end 2nd liner" is a slight exaggeration, but based on the wording I’d guess that from what Gregor has heard the Oilers are very high on Eberle. I however am not at all convinced that Eberle will ever be a better player than O’Sullivan, so I decided to compare them at the same age.
- O’Sullivan: 68GP – 34G – 58A – 92PTS, -43 (43.4%)
- Eberle: 66GP – 28G – 27A – 55PTS, +13 (25.6%)
O’Sullivan played for Don Cherry’s awful Misssisauga team (11 wins); they were outscored 212 to 327 (-115). Eberle’s team (Regina) was more successful, scoring 234 goals and allowing 220 (+14). The number in brackets after their respective scoring totals is the percentage of team offense they provided. It is calculated using the following formula: Player Points / (Total Team Goals For * Games Player Appeared In/Total Games Played) O’Sullivan was played to death by Cherry, so it makes sense that he’d post ridiculous totals, but I think his edge is still clear.
- O’Sullivan: 56GP – 40G – 41A – 81PTS, -4 (46.4%)
- Eberle: 70GP – 42G – 33A – 75PTS, +5 (35.5%)
Mississauga improved, scoring 212 goals and allowing 231 (-19) under new coach Steve Ludzik. Regina improved as well, although by a lesser amount, scoring 217 goals and allowing 206 (+11). Eberle took a massive step forward, while O’Sullivan’s was more modest, likely due to decreased icetime under a rational coach. Still, yet again there’s a significant difference between the two.
- O’Sullivan: 53GP – 43G – 39A – 82PTS, +6 (48.5%)
- Eberle: 61GP – 35G – 39A – 74PTS, -4 (38.3%)
Mississauga took another step forward, this time under Greg Gilbert, their third coach in three years, scoring 217 goals and allowing 199 (+18). For the third year in a row, O’Sullivan led the team offensively, and he posted his first ever plus rating over an OHL season. Regina, meanwhile scored more goals but was much worse defensively (228/265 = -37) and Eberle posted the first minus total on the season. The better player is once again clear.
Patrick O’Sullivan was a fine junior player and a second round steal by Minnesota. Up until this year he has improved every season, and scored 47 goals and 93 points as an AHL rookie in 2005-06. He tracks well ahead of Jordan Eberle in every offensive category at the same age, and there’s no reason to believe that Jordan Eberle will ever emerge as a significantly better player than O’Sullivan.