By Amanda DiPaolo
The Edmonton Oilers got off to a great start, only to slow down considerably and take their usual, if not rightful, place at the bottom of the Western Conference.
Despite their current struggles, the Oilers are fun and even exciting to watch. They are young, fast and creative. But with creativity and youth comes defensive errors which leads to goals scored for the opposition and continued losses.
Who is the best of the youth in Edmonton? It isn’t last year’s first overall pick, Taylor Hall. True, Hall has had a slow start, but so did Rick Nash, Joe Thornton and Steven Stamkos to name a few first overall players to be a little slow out of the gate. It isn’t even that Hall has had a slow start. He has 2 goals and 5 points in 9 games. It’s just that fellow rookie, and teammate, Jordan Eberle has been all the more impressive.
Eberle is averaging almost a point a game, with 4 goals and 4 assists in 9 games. Eberle not only is an offensive threat on every shift, but he also is a penalty killer, believe it or not. And he has two shorthanded goals for his efforts.
The small forward is listed at 6’0 on the Oilers website, but there is no way that is accurate. Closer to 5’10, if that, Eberle is already a world juniors legend in Canada as a result of a goal he scored in the dying seconds of the semi-finals against Russia to send the game into overtime. Canada would win the game and then go on to win the gold medal.
Last year, with Canada down 5-3 late in the third period, Eberle would score two goals in three minutes to take the Canadians to overtime in the gold medal game against the Americans, only to lose in overtime.
Eberle’s highlight reel is the stuff of legends. Not since Sidney Crosby and Jonathon Toews has there been a player that Canadians have anticipated watching in the NHL. It doesn’t matter how much you dislike the Oilers, you can’t dislike Jordan Eberle.
While he was only drafted 22nd overall, probably because of his size, Eberle didn’t take long to prove he belongs in the NHL. His first in the NHL was scored on October 7th, 2010 during his first game. It was a shorthanded beauty.
His second goal, also shorthanded, was scored against the San Jose Sharks.
Early competition for Eberle? Jeff Skinner is looking sharp with Carolina. The youngest player in the NHL, the 18 year old Skinner has 3 goals and 4 assists in 10 games. PK Subban, Montreal’s star rookie defenseman has 6 assists in 11 games. Tyler Ennis, Tyler Seguin and even Taylor Hall will all receive consideration. As for goaltending wonders out there, Michal Neuvirth has been great for Washington and Sergei Bobrovsky has also stepped up for Philadelphia.
All great players and right now there are another dozen who deserve mention. The potential is limitless. But none of the potential can live up to here and now that is Eberle night in and night out.
Need more proof? How about some highlights from back in the day?