PRINCIPE: Flash Jordan
Gene Principe reflects on the journey and recent play of Oilers forward Jordan Eberle
Jordan Eberle is scoring. Again and again and again. Goals in three straight games tying his longest goal scoring streak of the season. In the process of markers in back to back to back games he has snuck into the conversation about Edmonton's top goal scorer. He has 18 which is only one back of co-team leaders David Perron and Taylor Hall. This isn't strange territory for Eberle as his 16 goals last season were one less than team-leader Nail Yakupov. In 2011-12 his 34 goals were tops on the team.
Before there was Nail Yakupov and Ryan Nugent Hopkins and Taylor Hall, there was Jordan Eberle. While picking #1 generally means you are down to a shortlist of 1 or 2 players, it's a much different story when you are drafting 22. The options are plentiful as they were in 2008 when the Oilers called out Jordan Eberle's name from the Regina Pats. By then the hometown hero was just settling in to his junior career and would go on to hit the 50 goal plateau with the Pats. Results that weren’t necessarily expected of him at the WHL level considering he wasn't chosen until the 7th round and 126th overall in the bantam draft. It just made the Oilers feel even better about their selection.
Credit the Pats for seeing something in Eberle that no one else saw or saw enough of to pick him any earlier. As you might have guessed, it was the "too small' syndrome that the teenager was fighting back in minor hockey days,even if he totaled a Gretzky-like 216 goals in a season while playing novice hockey. For all the things Eberle had, he didn't have size. What you can't measure though is his heart, desire and determination to prove people wrong.
When you look back at the 2008 entry draft, the name Steven Stamkos was announced first. That was followed up by Drew Doughty. Two picks later it was Alex Pietrangelo who was drafted. From there we throw out names likes Nikita Filatov, Kyle Beach, Chet Pickard and Anton Gustafsson. All taken before the Oilers drafted Eberle. Other than Ottawa snagging Erik Karlsson in the 15th slot, Eberle might have been the best of the unexpected stars to surface out of that draft year. What strikes me with the winger was after being drafted and signed, Eberle did his best WHL workgetting 50 goals and 106 points and a CHL player of the year award.
A couple of seasons ago Eberle was an All-Star in waiting, who, because of injury, wasn't officially named to partake in the mid-season festivities. As it turns out, Eberle ended up playing in the 2012 All-Star game as a replacement for Mikko Koivu. The way things are going for the 23-year-old, he'll end up in another All-Star game. He's proving, early in his NHL career, that another game trumpeting hockey's best players should be in his future, and he'll get there on his own merit.
Gene Principe is the host of Oilers games on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet Oilers