Eberle in Oilers top-gun race

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:29 PM ET

Jordan Eberle seems to have survived the curse of 42 points.

Despite taking an nasty blind-side elbow to the head from Vancouver Canucks winger Raffi Torres — who was suspended for four games — Eberle is still in the Edmonton Oilers lineup and in contention to win the team scoring title.

Heading into Friday’s game against the Minnesota Wild, the rookie winger is in a four-way tie with Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, who are all out with season-ending injuries.

“I haven’t really thought about that,” said Eberle. “With all the guys that have been injured, you just worry about going out there and playing every night. Looking back on this season, hopefully I can take some positives scoring-wise in that I had a pretty productive season and try to take that into next year and try to grow on that.”

Regardless, Eberle is on the verge of becoming the first Oilers rookie to finish the season leading the team in scoring.

Wayne Gretzky led the Oilers in scoring in his first NHL season with the club, but because of his year in the World Hockey Association, he was not considered a rookie.

“We were given a lot of opportunity here this year and I was able to play in a lot of situations where I was able to get that productivity,” Eberle said. “I know I’m going to have to get better and better as the season goes on to boost that.

“I learned a ton of things this year. Personally it’s been a grind, but you learn and you get better. That’s something you want to take into next season and use what I learned to try and motivate me in the summer. You see how big and fast guys are here, and you have to train just as hard to get back here.”

Selected by the Oilers in the first round — 22nd overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft — Eberle, 20, represents the future of the club.

He, along with Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark provided a beacon of hope in what has been another frustrating season for the Oilers.

“Heading into the season, I really didn’t have a target number at all,” said Eberle. “I was just going to go out and try to improve every game and get better, and try and get the game to slow down. I feel like it has. Especially in the last five games, it’s definitely slowed down for me, I see things quicker and definitely that’s a positive.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/DerekVanDiest


Videos

Photos