SUN Hockey Pool

'Now the real stuff begins'

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

He was grinning from ear-to-ear, wide-eyed with the world at his feet.

Jordan Eberle will most likely head back to the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League this season, but the Edmonton Oilers first pick (22nd overall) in this summer's NHL Entry Draft is going to make the most of his first professional training camp.

"I think the nerves are out after the first day," Eberle said. "I think the fitness assessing is the hardest part. We'll get back into the ice sessions (today) so I'm excited for that.

"I'm a little nervous to be playing with some of the faces that you watch on TV, but I think that's over now and now the real stuff begins."

Eberle, 18, was a scoring sensation with the Pats last year. The Regina native had 42 goals and 33 assists in 70 games. The five-foot-10, 174-pound forward was also a member of Canada's under-18 team that won gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in the Czech Republic.

"It's his first camp, but he understands the system very well and what it takes," said the Oilers assistant general manager and vice-president of hockey operations Kevin Prendergast. "He brings something that every team needs, he's a natural goal-scorer. It's a learning process for Jordan here and we'll do everything we can to get him into the NHL as quickly as possible."

Eberle was one of the highest-profile rookies taking part in the first day of camp consisting of medicals and fitness testing.

As a first-round pick, the Oilers hope he blossoms into an NHL talent although it's unlikely Eberle will make the same leap from junior to the NHL that Sam Gagner did.

"I think seeing what Sam did last year helps a little bit," Eberle said. "Sam's not a big guy, I'm sure he had the same thing last year that I have this year with everyone being a little bigger. I'm just looking to have a good rookie camp and feed off it."


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