From my point of view, both Eberle and RNH have had excellent seasons. We knew what Eberle was capable of, having scored 76 points in 2011/2012 and 65 points last season. RNH had a few more question marks, as he still needed to develop physically to really reach that next level we expect of a number one pick. Both guys produced well and look to be part of the Oilers future going forward.
Craig MacTavish made a few comments about these two before the start of the season (original interview is no longer available, so thanks to Robin Brownlee for transcribing part of it):
“We all know Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle are really good players but what we don’t know is whether they are star players,” MacTavish told McKenzie as part of a wide-ranging interview you can read here.
“They have a lot of room for growth…but they’ve had enough experience and enough time. I think, in fairness to them, they want this more so than anybody else. We need to see whether they’re going to be good players or whether they’re going to be star players.”
Source: Oilers Nation
To me, star players are those that not only finish in the top 10 in scoring within their position, but are also productive at even-strength where the majority of the game is played. A player’s time on ice has to be considered to really gauge their talent relative to their peers, as well as their zone starts. Taylor Hall for instance, is a star player because he’s been in the top 10 when measuring his total points and point production per 60 minutes of play at even strength.
I decided to breakdown the numbers for both Eberle and RNH to see if they’ve reached star status, or if they’re still working towards it. Here’s how Eberle has done over his five years with the Oilers (even-strength):
|Corsi For %(All, score adj)||47.4||47.7||50.0||44.8||50.0|
|Corsi For % Rel||4.1||1.7||8.7||2.4||4.0|
|Scoring Chances For %||48.7||49.7||51.6||46.2||49.0|
|Shots For %||47.3||47.6||51.7||45.3||49.3|
|Offensive Zone Starts %||48.5||59.7||49.3||55.2||62.7|
Source: War on Ice
What’s encouraging about Eberle is his consistency when it comes to point production (P/60) over the past few years. And good things tend to happen when he’s on the ice…something we’ve come to expect of him. He’s also received a higher percentage of offensive zone starts this year, and he often plays with star players. He was 14th in even strength scoring this season among right wingers (minimum of 250 minutes played), up from 15th place last season. But he’s 36th overall in terms of points per 60 among right wingers, up from 41st the year before.
And here’s how RNH has done over his four years with the Oilers (even-strength):
|Corsi For %(All, score adj)||48.2||49.2||43.8||49.3|
|Corsi For % Rel||1.9||7.0||1.1||2.8|
|Scoring Chances For %||50.5||51.0||46.2||48.5|
|Shots For %||49.2||50.5||44.9||49.2|
|Offensive Zone Starts||61.5||50.9||58.1||61.8|
RNH’s even-strength stats have definitely improved, but not as dramatically as I thought they would’ve just based on what I saw on the ice. He has received a lot more offensive zone starts, thanks to guys like Boyd Gordon and Anton Lander doing some heavy lifting. His overall point total including powerplay points are identical from last season (56 total points), but his even strength production has definitely improved. At even strength, he ranks 17th overall in points among centers, up from 42nd last season. In terms of point production, he ranked 38th among centers, up from 80th the year prior.
For comparison’s sake, here are Taylor Hall’s numbers.
|Corsi For %||47.5||51.2||49.8||43.2||49.0|
|Corsi For % Rel||4.8||5.6||8.2||0.2||3.5|
|Scoring Chances For %||47.2||50.3||49.3||45.2||47.9|
|Shots For %||46.0||50.4||51.4||44.8||46.2|
|Offensive Zone Starts %||51.2||56.7||54.0||56.6||55.7|
He finished 2nd overall among left wingers at even strength last season, and 3rd overall in points per 60. In 2012-2013, he was 3rd overall in points and points per 60 at even strength. He’s obviously had a rough season this year, but I think we can expect him to bounce back to star-level status soon. Let’s hold off on those trade rumors, shall we?
I’d be curious to hear what MacTavish thinks of RNH’s and Eberle’s 2014/2015 season. I don’t think they’ve reached that “star-level” status that he alluded to back in September, but I think, with RNH especially, that potential is still there. We also can’t overlook the consistency of Eberle’s play, who really has established himself as a top line NHL winger.
I see both players as integral parts of the Oilers future and hope that they, along with Hall and Yakupov, could be that core to build around. Here’s hoping the club can solidify a coaching staff for next season, get some help on the blueline, and really put these young forwards in a position to succeed.
RE 14-15 Jordan Eberle: Blue Sky – Lowetide