Monday, 23 March 2009

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT???

Congrats Eberle!
Jordan Eberle, (22OA, 2008)

Woohoo! Another one of my Baby Team Canada boys has been signed! TSN reports that the Edmonton Oilers have signed Jordan Eberle of the Regina Pats in the WHL to a three year entry-level contract. The 18 year-old centre, who went 22nd overall is the 2008 Entry Draft, is eligible to play in the CHL for another season as he will not turn twenty until May of 2010. (This means he will also still be eligible to play on the Canadian U20 team at the 2010 WJHC in Saskatchewan next Christmas.)

How can you not love a kid with a smile like that?

Says TSN:

In his time with the Pats, the 18-year-old notched 105 goals, 99 assists and 204 points in 197 games. That included 35 goals and 74 points in 61 games this season.

Eberle also established himself in the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championships while skating with Canada, as he posted the game-tying goal in his team's 6-5 overtime win over Russia in the semifinals. He also notched a shootout tally in that contest, helping move eventual-champion Canada into the gold medal game versus Sweden.
Remember this?



CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!? You better believe it. Because he followed that (his second goal of the game) up with this...



Yup. This kid is clutch. Since the Pats missed the WHL playoffs, I have a feeling my shot at seeing him play (live) for less than 100$ has been seriously compromised. But frankly, I'd rather see him in an NHL uniform anyways. That way I get to watch him on TSN and HNIC. I just kind of hope that, if he does make the Oilers' roster out of training camp next fall, the team is willing to give him up for the WJC. Because I'd like a little more of this, thanks...

Eberle and PK Subban, WJC 2009.

I'm a ridiculous sap, but I love when these boys make those first huge leaps towards becoming career NHLers. Last year about this time (maybe a bit later, actually, since the Hitmen made playoffs...), Karl Alzner was signed by the Washinton Capitals. When I read it in the paper on the bus I literally pumped a fist in the air and shouted "YES!" People thought I was out of my mind. Well, everyone but the guy across from me in the Canucks hat who looked at what I was reading and chuckled and said, "It's always nice when the local kids make it, eh?"

It IS nice when the local kids make it (Alzner is from Burnaby, the part of Vancouver I live in) and what was even nicer was when, a few weeks later, the Coyotes called Kyle Turris down to Phoenix and signed him. Turris, who went 3rd overall in 2007 (after Patrick Kane and James van Riemsdyk) is the highest-ever draft pick to come out of the BCHL, BC's junior A league (which is one step below Canadian Major Junior, which our top junior league). Turris played junior with the Burnaby Express, who play about 8 minutes away from my apartment.

But it's not the 'local' part that matters, it's the 'making it' part, because in Canada it's hard for it not to feel local, despite the unbelievably massive amount of territory the country encompasses. Canada sometimes, honestly and truly, feels like a really huge small town. I know this sounds a little strange since it's got 30 million people and all, but you would NEVER believe the all the connections between people I know. I moved out west and met people who went to camp with my high school classmates. I've met Canadians in foreign countries who LIVED DOWN MY STREET IN TORONTO - of all the places to live in Toronto (which is HUGE) they lived on Sword St in Cabbagetown, around the corner from my place. Screw six degree of separation; in Canada, it's three - tops.

Last spring, during playoffs, I was gushing about how I really like NHL playoffs but I like the WJC better. This lovely woman I worked with laughed and said, "Yeah, that's my nephew's favourite tournament too! He said it was the best two weeks of his life."

I stared.

I HAD to ask.

Yeah. Her nephew? That's right. Kyle Turris.

Small world.

Which is why I don't feel strange being so excited that yet another on of the kids I lost my voice cheering for over Christmas is one step closer to a career that may one day land him in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

And why I'm waiting patiently for it to happen to about twenty other kids. I expect Eberle won't be the only CHL player signed to an NHL entry-level contract in the next few weeks.

A few names to keep an eye out for:

- Zach Boychuk (14th OA to Carolina, 2008), whose Lethbridge Hurricanes are 7th seed in the eastern conference of the WHL;

- Tyler Ennis (26th OA to Buffalo, 2008), whose Medicine Hat Tigers are 5th seed in the east conference of the WHL;

- possibly
Justin Bernhardt (undrafted, I think, so could sign with anyone), who posted 92 pts [35P, 57A] this season with the Raiders in the WHL - possibly, because this season was BY FAR his best campaign, because I'm pretty he went undrafted because of his unremarkable play in his first few junior seasons, and because I'm honestly not sure how signing him would work because I'm not really familiar with the rules and regulations for signing undrafted players (if, in fact, he is undrafted).

Boychuk and Ennis are both are Team Canada alum. Both are on WHL teams unlikely to make it past the second round of playoffs. Bernhardt's Raiders are out of the playoffs, so I'm interested to see what happens with him. I'm kind of hoping he's a late bloomer - he came off three pretty god-awful seasons and just popped out of NOWHERE to rank 5th in scoring in the WHL this season. If he's actually undrafted it means that his pro-hockey career in dependent upon some franchise signing him soon, as he celebrated his 20th birthday in February and just finished his fourth season in the CHL - both of which make him ineligible to continue playing at that level. I hope someone takes a chance on this kid, and he turns out to be a bit like Kyle Wellwood, and just needed to be on the right team, in the right environment, to get the confidence to succeed.

And then there are the lucky ones, who don't really need the right team or the right environment because they're the one who help to create that 'right team' or that 'right environment'. Like Jordan Eberle, who I'd love to see play for 18$ at the Pacific Coliseum... but I'd much rather not-be-able-to-afford-paying-100$ to see play at GM Place.


Congrats kid! And the best of luck!

1 comment:

ali said...

I still can't believe Canada ended up scoring in that game against Russia. It was INCREDIBLE! Best thing was that the television screen was shaking so much because even the cameraman couldn't hide his excitement any longer. (Even though I was starting to get sick to my stomach watching the screen jump up and down like that) I'm not even Canadian, but I really do get chills when I watch that video... wow...

Congrats to Jordan Eberle! Good luck!