Top prospect Eberle among Oilers cuts
Management opting for size, grit in filling out regular-season roster
For now, it doesn't matter that Edmonton Oilers prospect Jordan Eberle is considered a natural goal scorer with gifted hands who is able to create plays in traffic.
New head coach Pat Quinn is looking for size and grit to round out the NHL team's lineup, and those qualities don't exactly stand out when discussing the five-foot-10-inch, 175-pound Eberle.
"Jordan had a terrific [training] camp, and so did [fellow forward] Rob [Schremp] for that matter," Quinn told reporters after Sunday's pre-season 5-4 overtime win over the visiting Vancouver Canucks. "We just had quite a few similar players.
"We are trying to change our appearance here and get some size and grit in our lineup and that was a factor in our decisions."
Oilers management believes Eberle, who scored the game-winning goal to help Canada upend Russia in the semifinals of last year's world junior hockey championship, could use one more year in junior.
The 19-year-old right-winger collected 35 goals and 74 points in 61 games with his hometown Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League last season.
'Be a leader there'
Eberle added three goals and nine points in nine contests with Edmonton's American Hockey League affiliate in Springfield, Mass.
"They [Oilers management] saw that I can compete at this level but they want me to go back to junior and be a leader there," said Eberle, who was taken 22nd overall by the Oilers in the 2008 NHL entry draft.
"It's tough any time you get cut but I'll go back down to junior and hopefully have a good year there and at the world juniors. It's another year to learn and get better."
Forward Kip Brennan, defenceman Taylor Chorney and goaltender Devan Dubnyk were also assigned to Springfield on Sunday.
The Oilers have 27 players remaining in camp with three players expected to be placed on injured reserve: forwards Fernando Pisani and Marc-Antoine Pouliot along with defenceman Theo Peckham.
Each of the NHL's 30 teams must trim their rosters to 23 players for the season-opening night Thursday.