Eberle "on" this off-season
Busy spring features 11 AHL games, WHL award & Team Canada camp
|Eberle had 50 goals and 106 points in 57 games this past season for the Regina Pats (photo: Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oil Kings).
Despite missing the playoffs with his Regina Pats, Jordan Eberle has been undoubtedly "on" since the WHL regular season wrapped mid-March. The 19-year-old Oilers prospect supplemented his Pats campaign by posting 14 points in 11 games with the AHL's Springfield Falcons and then etched his name in the WHL's record books by being named the league's Player of the Year.
Earning the award was "pretty special" he said after the ceremony Wednesday, but the trophy shining will have to wait: In a few short days, Eberle will be in Germany battling for a spot on Canada's World Championship team.
Two weeks ago, Hockey Canada named 15 NHLers to the squad and announced that Eberle, a veteran of one under-18 and two World Junior championships, would attend the pre-competition camp in Hamburg May 2-6. The tryout might make some players uneasy, but Eberle is looking forward to the challenge.
"That's the way it should be. You should have to try to earn your spot and that's the way I like it," he said.
It's a unique opportunity that the confident forward is eager to capitalize on.
"It's kind of nice going into this situation with no pressure really," Eberle said. "Every minute I can soak in with those guys is just going to be gained experience and going to help me in the long run. Those guys are NHLers and just to be around them, and skate and practice and hopefully play, will be awesome. I'm going to go into camp with the expectation to make the team and try and compete for a spot."
With his small stature, Eberle has had to prove himself at every level of his career.
"It's kind of the way my life's gone, my hockey career. I came into the league a seventh-round draft pick and had to earn my spot in the Western League and kind of turned some heads, kind of as I started scoring some goals," he explained.
Cracking Team Canada is up next, but come September, his sights will be set on the Edmonton Oilers roster.
"There's so much you can do as far as getting stronger and faster, but if you don't have the confidence and you're not ready to step in and jump into camp and feel like you're ready to play, you're not going to make it," Eberle added.
With four WHL seasons and two successful AHL stints behind him, Eberle insists he's ready to make the NHL step.
"I've caught a bit of taste of it the end of the last two years in Springfield and it's fun; you get to play with such great players and you're excited," he said with a smile. "I've had a great four years in the Western League and I feel like I'm ready to step into pro."
Eberle won't be the only Oiler in Germany: Taylor Chorney and Ryan Potulny will be playing for Team USA, while fellow prospects Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Linus Omark, and Anton Lander have been invited to Sweden's pre-tournament camp.
Visit edmontonoilers.com throughout May for regular updates on the Oilers accomplishments at the 2010 World Hockey Championships.