As fans of the home town team we tend to over value the players we cheer for. It seems even more so when you consider that they have been playing for a basement dweller, some of them for their entire careers. In this series I am doing some basic statistical comparisons of Oilers to players across the NHL in the hopes of shedding some light on what league wide value they may truly have. In this post I bring you Dare to Compare – Jordan Eberle
When your team has been bad as the Oilers are for as long as they have been, many players become hot button topics. Who has to go to bring in the players needed for rounding out the roster into a playoff contender? Jordan Eberle’s name has become very popular around water coolers and there is a reason for that.
He’s a player that has shown incredible offensive consistency at a very young age.
Eberle wasn’t a consensus pick in the 22 slot of the ’08 draft. From the cult of hockey, June 2008.
In April, the Hockey News had Eberle ranked 22nd overall, while McKeens Hockey had him at 33 overall. NHL central scouting had him at 33rd overall. TSN’s Bob McKenzie rated him 29th overall.
The Oilers took their shot a few spots higher than what most predicted and it has paid off in spades. Out of his draft year only 3 other players have scored more points than he has and they were all drafted higher. Stamkos, Doughty, and Karlsson. 3 special hockey players. Eberle should be commended for delivering the offense and keeping the company he has to this point. He can be counted on for 65 points a year and approaching 30 goals. That has value, as it should, but how much?
Jordan Eberle’s Even Strength Player Card
Much like Hall, Eberle has put up the crooked numbers at a good clip but his shot differential numbers leave us wanting. This theme is obviously a team wide problem, but I need to include it to show the gap between the Oilers’ young stars and their statictical comparables. Some highlights…
- His even strength points per 60 puts him at 88th in the NHL for forwards who’ve played >40 games.
- His scoring on the power play puts him 26th in the league (20 pts on PP, 1 on PK, 2 in OT).
- He does get a small push in terms of zone starts but it’s pretty standard for player like him.
- Also like Hall, if he ever wants to find his goal totals breaching 30 year after year, he’s going to have to be a little more selfish with the puck and shoot more often. It’s not uncommon to see Eberle try to find the perfect spot to shoot from with one more move instead of letting his deceptive release do the work.
- As mentioned, the possession numbers are a concern and one hopes that, as he matures, he plays a more complete game than he does now (coaching must improve as well as it is a team problem).
- He received fringe consideration for the Canadian Olympic team (something I didn’t mention about Hall) and had it not been for the Oilers’ abysmal October and November, he may have had a shot at making it.
- Eberle is almost solely responsible for popularization of SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE in this city.
When filtering my selections I looked at 3 factors. Those are…
- Even strength points per 60 (+/- 10%)
- PDO (+/- 1.5%)
- Offensive to defensive zone start percentage (>54%)
As you can see there is a wide range of players that meet Eberle’s numbers. I’ll group them as such…
Hossa, Datsyuk and Alfredsson.
Skinner, Saad, Jokinen and Parise
I’m going to put on my mister obvious hat and say Jordan Eberle does not match the first group at all. These are 3 of some of the finest Europeans to play the game in the last 20 years. 2 way aces with offense to spare (all at points in their respective careers).
Jeff Carter is a pure goal scorer with size so it doesn’t make much sense to compare him to Eberle.
Benoit Pouliot is an odd duck, as that link explains, and as a 3rd line player he doesn’t fit the bill either.
What you are left with are 4 players who really do match up fairly well. If I were to rank them alongside Eberle I’d probable order them like this…
- Parise – His years of tutoring under the defensive guiding of the Devils snare give him 2-way ability that we can only hope Eberle develops. Since moving to Minny he’s being used in a power vs power role and his team delivers a lion’s share of the shot attempts while he is on the ice with a Rel FF of 10.3%(!) That is what you call pushing the river. (His cap hit is fierce, at 7.54 million, but so far he is delivering)
- Eberle – You may think differently than me but Eberle is the real deal. Taking nothing away from the remaining 3, Eberle has delivered 1st line crooked numbers, in the Western Conference, on a crap team, repeatedly, and against tougher competition than the others left are facing (He’s also played for 4 different coaches).
- Skinner – Skinner has the shot volume that should allow him to become a threat to score 40 every year. He is a little sheltered in Carolina, in terms of zones starts and competition, but still puts up good point totals and almost break even possession numbers.
- Jokinen – A guy who at one point was put on waivers in Tampa and found his game in Carolina. He was traded to Pittsburg at the deadline of the lockout shortened season and has continued to put up near career numbers beside one of the games best, Malkin. At 31 he probably won’t get any better than what he currently is, but is still a useful top 6 NHLer.
- Saad – He’s young, talented, gets a huge o-zone push and rides shotgun for Patrick Kane who is undoubtedly driving the bus. At this point he is a great complimentary top 6 player but is rather sheltered in terms of who he’s playing against (relative Corsi wise)
There you have it. If Jordan Eberle is on the trading block to help upgrade the D or to add size up front, you can consider his value somewhere between Parise (undersized, 2 way, power vs power winger) and Skinner (undersized, a little sheltered, ‘plus’ goal scoring ability winger). The potential is there for Eberle to become a strong 2 way presence, utilizing his hockey IQ, and the potential is also there for him to deliver more goals if he can shoot the puck with higher frequency.
Eberle compares well as a top line forward. If he is being considered as a movable asset, he should bring back substantial quality on a long term deal (especially if he’s packaged with one of the blooming D prospects). I don’t desire that this happens, but if it does we can at least have some confidence that MacTavish should be able to acquire a significant piece to help get this team moving forward again.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to share some banter with me on twitter, @borisnikov, be it hockey or otherwise.