Like a little kid anxiously ticking off his "sleeps" until Christmas, Jordan Eberle is counting down the days before he attends his first National Hockey League training camp with the Edmonton Oilers.
"Ever since I got drafted, I've spent the summer thinking about Oilers training camp, and I want nothing more than to put in a good showing," said Eberle, who was selected 22nd overall by the Oilers this past June.
It's been a memorable summer for the 18-year-old from Calgary.
In addition to being drafted by his favourite NHL team, he was invited to Team Canada's training camp for the world junior tournament and emerged as a strong contender for the final roster at the 2009 IIHF World Junior tournament in Ottawa.
"I put in a lot of work this summer - especially in the weight room," said Eberle, who scored 42 goals and 75 points for the WHL's Regina Pats last season.
"With me not being a very big guy to begin with, I thought it was important for me to try and gain some weight.
"I've been pretty much eating like a horse. I put on 10 pounds, and that's quite a bit for me. I can already see a difference here at the preseason tournament.
"I feel a lot quicker and a lot stronger, and I hope to carry that into Oilers camp."
With former Pats head coach Curtis Hunt off to Ottawa to join Craig Hartsburg as an assistant coach, ex-Pats sniper Dale Derkatch will be the team's new bench boss.
Derkatch coached Eberle at Notre Dame when Eberle was just 14.
"When Dale played he had loads of offensive ability. He'll definitely give our team an opportunity to put the puck in the net," said Eberle.
"For the past couple of years, the backbone of our team has been our defence and we really haven't had a real strong offensive team.
"I think this year our basis will be around offence and for a guy like me that's exciting to see."
Eberle's 42 goals last season put him in the WHL's top five. His expectations this season are much higher.
He wants to make the world junior roster and continue to be one of the WHL's deadliest snipers.
Could 50 goals this season be in his future?
"I would be very happy to see that. At this point, the goal is for him to be the best he can be," said Derkatch.
"His effort is there, and his willingness to compete never changes. He had 42 goals last year, 50 isn't that far off. How about 60?
"He's a competitor and he's got high expectations on himself.
"He wants to be the guy, he wants to have the puck and he wants to score the goals and he's been like that his whole life."
The Oil Kings finished their second annual preseason tournament with a 5-4 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers last night in St. Albert.
Dylan Wruck, a 16-year-old forward from Saskatoon, scored the winner for the Oil Kings at the 10:37 mark of the third period.
Brent Raedeke, Drew Nichol, Jeff Lee and Cam Maclise also scored for Edmonton, while John Stampohar, Josh Koper, Tristan King and Joey Frazer replied for the Tigers.