In a draft chalked full of bloodlines, Tanner Eberle has a big shadow to overcome as he continues his hopes of being selected in Pittsburgh this June.
He shares his surname with Jordan, a third or fourth cousin by his estimate, who happens to be an All Star in just his second season in the National Hockey League.
With the family ties being rather distant, the two don’t know each other that well.
“I grew up with him in Regina, so I know him a little bit,” Tanner said. “Me and his brother know each other, he’s a little closer in age to me.”
It turns out name and birthplace, Regina, SK., are about the only thing the Eberle boys have in common.
For one, there is the matter of statistics. In his draft year the five-foot-10, 160-pound left winger has tallied eight goals and 24 points in 61 games this season with the Moose Jaw Warriors, who are second in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. By contrast, Jordan had 42 goals en route to a 75 point season before he was selected by the Edmonton Oilers 22nd overall at the 2008 NHL Draft.
“I’m nothing like Jordan skill wise, but I go out there and I work hard and just try and lay some bodies and get the boys going,” Tanner admitted.
The other contrast between the distant cousins is the types of players they are.
Jordan clearly is a player with a nose for the net, having recently topped the 30 goal mark with the Oilers for the first time in his young career. He had just 104 penalty minutes in four seasons of junior with the Regina Pats. Tanner has 80 penalty minutes with Moose Jaw this season alone.
So while Jordan takes pride in his goal and point totals, Tanner concentrates on the physical side of the game as an agitator.
“I try to pattern myself after Brad Marchand,” Tanner said. “My favourite player growing up was Eric Lindros. He was an all round player who could score and also liked to hit.”
To a larger extent than Marchand or Lindros, Fighting is a part of the role Eberle is playing with his current squad, and one that he relishes.
“I like to fight,” he admitted. “I’ve been throwing some pretty good lefts lately, it’s been fun.”
Including one in particular.
“Probably Marc McCoy of the Red Deer Rebels,” Tanner said. “I four-punched, knocked him out there. It was a pretty good fight for me.”
Tanner knows and understands his position heading into the NHL Draft.
Unlike his distant cousin, Tanner won’t be relying on his skill to earn a selection.
If the Eberle family name makes another appearance in the NHL, it may be as an enforcer and not a scorer.
Which could be Tanner’s ticket to Pittsburgh this June.