No pressure for Eberle

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Jordan Eberle has the luxury of just being able to play.

There's little room on the roster for the Edmonton Oilers first-round pick, so it's unlikely he'll stay in the NHL.

Therefore Eberle doesn’t have to worry about the stress of competing for a job, and can just showcase the skills that made him the 22nd overall pick this summer.

“I think a lot of people don’t expect me to make the team, therefore there is not a lot of pressure on me,” Eberle said. “I can just go out there and play my game, hopefully turn some heads and who knows what can happen?

Long odds

“But I know where the odds lay and I just want to get out here, try and catch up to the pace and see where I have to be in the next few years.”

Eberle was impressive at the Oilers rookie camp last week. Yesterday he was equally as good scoring a goal for Team Blue as they defeated Team White 6-2 in the annual Joey Moss Cup intra-squad game.

“Yesterday I was a little nervous going into the game,” Eberle said. “I had to catch up to the tempo, it was a lot quicker than rookie camp. But (yesterday) it felt a lot better, especially in the second half of the game.

“I felt a little more relaxed, a little more poised and I was able to do more stuff with the puck.”

Teamed up on a line with prospects Tim Sestito and Tyler Spurgeon, Eberle scored the tying goal early in the second half of the game depositing a rebound in front over goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

For a recently drafted 18-year-old coming out of junior, Eberle did not look out of place more noticeable in the contest than other prospects, currently higher on the Oilers depth chart.

“I think it’s a little bit of a relief for me,” he said. “You’re always a little nervous wondering how you’re going to fit in. But I felt good out there and when I scored that lifted a little bit of the weight off my shoulders. It felt really good.”

Last season Eberle scored 42 goals and added 33 assists with the Regina Pats as a 17-year-old. The Regina native is expected to go back to his junior team by the conclusion of training camp.

However, the same was said of Sam Gagner last season, but he forced the Oilers to keep him for the entire year.

Gagner is now a key member of the team and was also impressive in yesterday’s scrimmage along with linemates Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson.

“They are unbelievable players,” Eberle said. “It’s a neat experience being able to be on the ice with them and being able to talk to them. The way they move the puck with one another it’s incredible. To hopefully one day play with them would be a neat experience.”

Eberle won’t be in the lineup tonight when the Oilers host the Vancouver Canucks at Rexall Place in their first exhibition game of the season. But he’s likely to see some game action along the way.

Judging by his performance yesterday he’s earned a look over some other hopefuls.

“That would be a good experience for me to get an exhibition game under my belt,” Eberle said. “Hopefully, then, if I have to go back to junior, I’ll be able to take that experience with me and try to keep playing at that level with my junior team.

‘Eye-opener’

“I think the biggest thing coming from this camp, it’s going to be an eye-opening experience as far as what kind of level I need to get up to with my speed and my level of thinking.”

If and when he returns to junior, Eberle is expected to be one of the dominant players in the Western Hockey League this season.

“For me if I get back to my junior team, I think I’ll be able to be one of the leaders, get a lot of ice time and be one of the go-to guys,” he said.

“In that way I’m going to get a lot of opportunity to get into a lot of games. I think we’re going to have a good young team. We still have a lot of guys away at camp, but we’re still competing. I think once we get those guys back we’re going to be good.”


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