For the second year in a row, Jordan Eberle lead the Edmonton Oilers in scoring. That’s no small feat for a second year player, especially when the team he plays for had the previous two 1st overall picks in the lineup.
There’s absolutely no doubt that Eberle benefitted from how Tom Renney managed his bench. Eberle, along with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and to a lesser extent Taylor Hall, were heavily sheltered, both in terms of where they started their shifts and who they played against. There’s also very little doubt that he benefitted a lot from some tilted percentages, not just his own shooting percentage, but by those of his line mates as well.
Under all that though is still a quality young player, who is going to be a very good NHL player for a long time.
Aside from just not liking clutch Canadians who score important goals, Derek Zona had this to say about his 6th place ranking of Jordan Eberle:
It's all been said already by Scott, Tyler myself and others. He got pillow soft minutes, shot the lights out, his teammates shot the lights out and his IPP was crazy. If he gets tougher minutes, has regression in his shooting percentage, his on-ice shooting percentage and his IPP, he's going to drop 25-30 points. I'm not saying all of them will regress at once, but it's not unlikely either.
I don’t think we can expect Eberle to be a routine 18% shooter. That kind of player is just so rare that you can’t rely on that kind of performance, especially after just one year. Eberle has high end NHL shooting skills, but routinely putting up 18% would make him one of the best of this generation. Could he be? Sure. Would I bank on it after one season? Not on your life.
Like all young players, Eberle still has some holes in his game. He’s okay in his own zone, but he runs into trouble getting the puck out of his zone when he doesn’t have clean possession. As a winger, he needs to be a little bit harder on the puck when the opposition is cycling in his area. He’s playing with a smaller C, so any extra he can do in the defensive zone to help out will see a huge jump in his possession numbers.
Offensively speaking, he’s got some of the best offensive instincts of any Oiler not name Wayne Gretzky. He is a sublime passer, he’s very good at receiving passes from all angles while moving and he makes good decisions with the puck, knowing when to make the safe play. When he doesn’t have the puck, he has a knack for finding holes in the defensive zone coverage, whether it’s for an open shot or just to give his teammate an easy outlet. His ability to get open, combined with his shooting skill means he’s going to routinely be an above average shooter by the percentages, especially if he keeps playing with guys like Hall, Gagner and Nugent-Hopkins, who are all excellent at passing the puck.
The holes Eberle has in his game can be fixed with experience. He’s a smart player and based on all reports is a player who is willing to learn and doesn’t buy into his own hype. The next step for Eberle is to see get out from under awning and play some tougher minutes. Taylor Hall is ready, if Eberle can be ready too then Oilers can stop focusing solely on being a developmental team and focus on being a playoff team.