A 'next year' worth waiting for

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- When players say "just wait till next year," it's a baseless expression that comes on the heels of failure.

In Jordan Eberle's case, it's a tantalizing vow that comes on the heels of a successful training camp.

Probably not so successful that the Oilers will have him forgo another year of junior to join the NHL right now, but he's certainly not far off.

Whatever happens when the final cuts come, Eberle has proven a lot to himself.

"Coming into camp I'm nervous, you don't really know what to expect," he said. "But I felt like I fit in right away. That's great. Just that confidence and mindset that you know you can contribute and play at this level is definitely reassuring."

UNINTIMIDATED

In a couple of the early games, he was Edmonton's best forward, clearly unintimidated by the surroundings.

"It's funny, coming in I thought I'd have to work on my battling with the puck, coming in and playing against men in the NHL, I felt great. for the most part it's use your skills to beat them and I felt like I fit in."

Eberle has been very good in camp, better than a handful of veterans who were supposed to be ahead of him on the depth chart, but when a club is waist deep in forwards under contract, it's hard to make room for a teenager who wouldn't be hurt by another year in junior."

But he isn't giving up until they tell him to pack his bags.

"I know the situation here, I can't control any of that," he said. "I honestly have no idea what's going to happen. I can't control that stuff. All I can do is go out there and put in a good effort.

"If worst comes to worst and I go back to junior, I'm going to go back a better player just from the experience I got up here. It's a win-win situation. Obviously it's my main goal to play here, but Regina is not such a bad option, and the World Juniors."


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