SUN Hockey Pool

Eberle makes his case

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

CHICAGO -- Down the wing, around the defenceman, juke out the goalie, nothing but net.

Any concerns about Jordan Eberle's ability to do the same things in the NHL that he's done in everywhere else he's ever played are being put to rest one highlight reel at a time.

Questions about his size and speed are being answered by his hands and head as he's proving, just nine games into his rookie season, that he can finish in the NHL, too.

"I feel good," said the 20-year-old, who's going at almost a point-per-game pace -- four goals, two of them shorthanded and all of them sweet, and four assists -- through nine starts. "I'm sticking to the game plan as far as chipping pucks in and getting pressure, making plays. Obviously stuff doesn't go in every night, but I feel comfortable with the level of the speed and the game."

HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU, KIDS: With Jonathan Toews, third overall in 2006, and Patrick Kane, first overall in 2007, the young Oilers got a good look at where they need to be in a few years.

"It's different from playing the other superstars in the league because they're young and they're so close to our own age," said Taylor Hall, who hopes that he, Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi can blaze a similar trail in Edmonton. "Definitely, that's the route that we'd like to take. They're an exciting team to watch. They're going to be a powerhouse for the next five years."

BLOWN UP REAL GOOD: The Hawks didn't have much time to celebrating before salary cap issues forced the club to dynamite its roster. They had to cut loose the likes of Dustin Byfuglien, Antti Niemi, Kris Versteeg and Ben Eager.

"Everybody knew it was coming all season, we knew the situation with the contracts and the salary cap," said new Oiler Colin Fraser, who was also moved in the purge. "We didn't know who or when it was going to happen, but I guess it was good that it happened right away, it gave you a chance to get situated. I'm sure that any guy who was traded would love to stay but it's a business and that's the way it is. We didn't have a choice and Chicago didn't have a choice, either."

Playing against his former mates for the first time was a bit of a shocker for the 25-year-old.

"I've never really been in this situation, being traded and playing against friends," he said, adding there aren't many teams closer than one that wins a title together. "When you're on a championship team you can't say enough about how good the guys are. It's no secret that good teams have good guys in the room, too."

REUNION TOUR: Former Oiler Fernando Pisani is settling in to his new surroundings. He has just the one point in 11 games, but with Kane and Toews and Sharp and Hossa when he's healthy, he's not here to score.

"He's fit in really nicely for us," said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. "We like what he brings to our team. He's predictable, he's dependable, he's an experienced guy. He kills penalties for us. He's helped us out in a lot of ways. Very useful for us. He's played in a lot of different positions with just about everybody since the start of the year."


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