a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Sunday, 27 May 2012

05/27/12 Can Jordan Eberle Repeat His Performance?

Jordan Eberle had the best season of any Oilers player in a long time. He's certainly got the skill, but can he continue to be as good as he was in 2011-12?

Eberle carried an 18.9% shooting percentage this past season. His 34 goals came on just 180 shots. By way of comparison, Taylor Hall had 27 goals on his team-leading 207 shots in seventeen fewer games than Eberle played.

In 2010-11, Eberle had a shooting percentage of 11.4%, and his high conversion rate in 2011-12 brought his career shooting percentage up to 15.4% in 147 games. Since the lockout, only 17 players (including Eberle) who appeared in at least 140 NHL games had a shooting percentage at or above 15%. Only Anson Carter and Alex Tanguay had shooting percentages above 18% over a stretch of at least 140 games.

So, is Eberle likely to reproduce his 2011-12 performance? In a word: no. That doesn't mean that he won't still be able to score a lot of goals for the Oilers. The way for him to do it will be to get a heck of a lot more shots on goal.

If Taylor Hall had the same career shooting percentage as Eberle, he would already have 60 goals (rather than 49) despite suffering some season-shortening injuries. If Eberle had the same shooting percentage as Taylor Hall, Eberle would have just 42 goals rather than the 52 that he's sitting with at the moment. Taylor Hall has averaged 3.1 shots per game over his career thus far, which is why he's a better bet to be a high end goal scorer over the long haul.

Eberle's 2.3 shots per game is actually closer to Sam Gagner's career total (2.0 shots per game) than it is to Hall's. Jordan is shifty, he has an extremely accurate shot, and he has a definite scoring touch, but eventually percentages will catch up to him unless he starts getting more rubber to the net. That shouldn't be too much of a stretch as he continues to improve as a player and gets better teammates.

But it also begs the question of whether or not Nail Yakupov will eventually have a higher offensive ceiling than Eberle. Long term, might Jordan Eberle be better suited to the second line?

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