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Principe's Blog: Jordan has 'air' about him

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Jordan Eberle has scored a pile of highlight-reel goals during his short career with the Oilers (Photo by Getty Images)

It doesn't matter when I say it but every time I utter the name Jordan and it involves sports I think of Michael Jordan. For someone who grew up in that era he was the best, clinical killer of hopes and dreams. He dashed and then crashed opposing teams' desire and will to win. He was a coldhearted player for all the nightmares caused by his 'Airness'.

Nowadays, I cover another Jordan but that's his first name and his last name is Eberle. Now before you start e-mailing me that I've lost my marbles comparing one Jordan to another that's not what I'm doing -- no one compares to Michael Jordan. However the name makes me think of greatness and I think Jordan Eberle, to this point in the season, has been great

Going into the post-Christmas break Eberle is first on the team in points with 38 and 7th in league scoring. He is also first in goals with 16 and is tied in other major offensive categories. He is even with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in assists with 22 and is leading in power-play goals at seven. You start adding up these numbers over the course of an entire season and Eberle would have around 35 goals, 50 assists and in the 85 point range. That would make his rookie numbers (18-25-43pts) that he put up in 69 games look miniscule.

Now I think the Oilers felt like this was something that Jordan Eberle could be capable of but just not in his second full season in the NHL. When Edmonton drafted him 22nd overall the Calgary-raised, Regina-born hockey player was coming off a 42-goal, 75-point performance. Nice numbers but not outstanding considering some of the gaudy goal totals that can be achieved in junior. He just kept slowly building on his potential until he notched a 50-goal, 106-point season.

As if that wasn't enough Eberle became a national hero with his World Junior exploits as he is Canada's all-time leading goal scorer in the tournament with 14. He had done it all with teenagers his age which meant it was time to move on and move up. Edmonton did that by easing him into the pro circuit. Two stints in the AHL totaling 20 games and Eberle had 9 goals and 23 points. Despite calls for him to play for Edmonton and join teams that were basement dwelllers, the Oilers held off seeing no reason to rush him into play. No one knows how that would have worked out but we do know not rushing him into anything worked just right for the right winger.

In 2008, 10 forwards were taken before Eberle was chosen by Edmonton. It was the year Steven Stamkos was first overall. Next forward with the 6th pick CBJ took Nikita Filatov, one choice later Nashville selected Colin Wilson, at eight Phoenix took Mikkel Boedker. The Islanders drafted Josh Bailey at nine, Vancouver at 10 selected Cody Hodgson, at 11 Chicago chose Kyle Beach, Carolina decided on Zach Boychuk at 14, Joe Colbourne was chosen 16th by Boston, Anton Gustafsson 21st by Washington and then came Jordan Eberle at 22. Good things come to those who wait until late in the first round or at least it did the year Edmonton drafted a Jordan who has his own 'Air' of greatness.


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