Eberle takes WHL MVP honours

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

Jordan Eberle brought his junior hockey career to an end in style.

On Wednesday, the Regina Pats forward and Edmonton Oilers prospect, was named the Western Hockey League's player of the year.

Eberle beat out fellow nominee Craig Cunningham of the Vancouver Giants and was presented the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy at the league's awards luncheon.

"It's an honour to win the award," Eberle said. "You look at some of the names on the trophy and your eyes just brighten up. It's something that you dream of as a kid, and to have this day come true, it's pretty special."

Eberle, 19, was the Oilers' first pick -- 22nd overall -- in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

He finished second in WHL scoring this season with 50 goals and 56 assists in 57 games with the Pats. Eberle also helped Canada earn a silver medal at the World Junior championships.

He'll be the WHL's nominee for the Canadian Hockey League's player of the year, going up against Mike Hoffman of the Saint John Sea Dogs and Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers.

Although Eberle's still eligible to play in the WHL as an overage player next season, it's unlikely, as he'll either be in Edmonton or with the Oilers AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.

"As far as we're concerned, he's alumni now," said Pats general manager Brent Parker. "It's been a great four years, it's been an honour having him, but he's ready to move on."

Eberle, a Regina native, was originally a seventh-round pick of the Pats in the WHL bantam draft. He finished his WHL career with 155 goals and 155 assists in 254 games.

Despite knowing they would most likely lose their star player next year, the Pats decided not to trade Eberle in order to acquire assets for the future even though they didn't make the playoffs.

"I think as much as anything, we didn't trade him because of what he means to our program, what he meant to the kids and the younger guys, and what he meant to the city," Parker said. "As good a player he is, he's a better person. And the spinoff of that is him winning the Western Hockey League player of the year as a Regina Pat."

Following his season with the Pats, Eberle was sent to the Oilers AHL affiliate in Springfield to finish off the year. In 11 games with the Falcons, he had six goals and 14 points.

The Oilers could have called him up to play out the season in Edmonton, but decided against it.

"I didn't really expect it, I knew I was going to go to the AHL," Eberle said. "I wasn't disappointed at all. The AHL is still a great league and you gain a lot of experience by playing there and that's only going to help me push for a spot next year."

Before shifting his focus to the Oilers, Eberle will try to crack Team Canada's roster for the upcoming World Championships in Germany. He was invited to attend a pre-competition camp for the event.

"It's kind of nice going into a situation with no pressure," Eberle said. "I'm going to go in there and try to have a good camp and try and stick. Every minute I can soak in with those guys is going to be gained experience and is going to help me in the long run."

Come September, Eberle is being counted on to be a big part of the Oilers' rebuilding efforts going forward.

"He's the type of person you build your organization around, both as a player and as a person," Parker said. "He's the type of kid that's going to do whatever is asked of him and more. He's going to be great in the community and the best way to describe him is professional, on and off the ice in every aspect."


Videos

Photos