Young Oiler should contend

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:27 AM ET

EDMONTON - Where is it written that you cant win the Lady Byng in your second season in the league?

Where does it say you have to be around a while and build up a history?

Its usually how it works, said Jordan Eberle.

It seems to be an award you win if you are more of a veteran.

The Edmonton Oiler winger, who for the second win in a row against the Calgary Flames led the way with a three-point night, isnt on the campaign trail to get himself the award.

But unlike Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who scored his 17th and 18th goals of the year Friday night But he continues to contend he isnt paying much attention to the competition for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, Eberle isnt going to be shy about what winning it would mean to him.

Look at the names on that trophy, he said.

Red Kelly, Alex Delvechio, Dave Keon, Stan Mikita, John Bucyk, Jean Ratelle, Marcel Dionne, Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Paul Kariya, Ron Francis, Pavel Datsyuk and Martin St. Louis have all put their names on the trophy.

Im just going to try to keep playing as well as I can play until the end of the season, he said. Im going to try to keep my penalty minutes down. I think those eight minutes I got were in the first 20 games of the season.

Now that the Oilers have played and won their so-called last important game of the year, its all about Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and Hall for the fans in their last 11 games.

And there appears to be a serious need to the Oilers organization to start promoting the two players for those awards. The two players should be considered the leading candidates for either award but, remarkably, dont appear to be.

In the entire league, who has more points with fewer minutes in penalties than Jordan Eberle?

Nobody!

Nobody in the NHL who has more goals (31) or points (69) with so few minutes in penalties (8).

Eberle, who moved back into the top 10 of the NHL s now has two more points than games played and the Oilers havent had a player to average more than a point per game since Doug Weight.

And Eberle has to wait until hes been around the league for four or five more years to be considered?

Nugent-Hopkins being viewed by a significant percentage of the voters as chasing Gabriel Landeskog for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in the NHL is just as big a mystery.

Nugent-Hopkins produced three points Wednesday in a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets and scored two more goals. He almost registered the hat trick late in the game while he was horizontal in the air in front of the net.

Landeskog has played 73 games and RNH 51 and the 18-year-old Edmonton centre is one point back as of Friday night.

Both these kids should be going to Las Vegas in June with a chance to win.

Isnt it about time the Oilers organization started a full-out campaign expounding on the virtues of these two players like so many other teams do with their candidates.

Head coach Tom Renney took the first step toward doing that last night, after declaring the hit on Hall by Corey Sarich to be, after several looks at the replay, clean and said Hall appears much less concussed than the coach himself was a few weeks ago. He added Halls condition will be re-evaluated on Saturday.

They both had great nights. They played well. Thats three games in a row where they have been able to play against big lines and do well, said Renney when asked about Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins.

I think they are both great candidates. I really do.

RNH has played less games than the other guys. He is as important as any other player we have.

He makes five guys on the ice, including himself, better. Probably our goaltender, too, as the puck is usually going the other way or its out of trouble in our end.

Hes right there from a points perspective. I think that speaks volumes as to a Calder candidate.

As for Eberle, he didnt rave any less.

If it means anything to have 31 goals and a minimum of penalty minutes and be as influential as anybody in the league as far as an impact player and a consistent player for us, thats Jordan Eberle.

He has a number of points more than a lot of other guys who have won that trophy.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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