Exposing Jordan Eberle in the Expansion Draft

Jonathan Willis
February 03 2017 02:00PM

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Should Jordan Eberle be exposed to Las Vegas in this summer’s expansion draft?

I suppose crazier things have happened but this idea, which seems to be gaining currency among segments of the Oilers fanbase, strikes me as an awful use of resources.

Basically it comes down to this: Eberle has real value, and losing him for nothing would be a waste of that value.

Over the last three seasons, Eberle ranks 47th among NHL forwards by total points with 142. That total ties him with Brandon Saad and puts him one back of Matt Duchene, a player teams will be lining up to acquire if the Avs are foolish enough to trade him. He falls to 61st by points-per-game, a total which puts him just back of Duchene and just ahead of Saad.

Over the last three seasons, Eberle also ranks 93rd among NHL forwards by 5-on-5 points/hour, with 1.79. That number has been dragged down by a lousy 2016-17, but even so ties him with Logan Couture and puts him just ahead of Nathan MacKinnon.

As there are 90 first-line forwards in the NHL, it’s fair to say that Eberle is at least in the mix by scoring totals.

Nor is he a total dunce in other areas of the game. His defensive gaffes get a lot of attention in Edmonton, and while they deserve to be noted there’s a real element of missing the forest for the trees here. Even away from Connor McDavid, Eberle’s lines have been in the black by both shot differential and goals for/against, and that isn’t playing butter-soft minutes.

This is a quality offensive right wing who can be part of a non-McDavid line that can be trusted to out-shoot and out-score the opposition without being sheltered. A bad half-season doesn’t change that.

It’s also important to put that bad half-season into context. Eberle’s presently on an 82-game pace of 50 points, which really isn’t bad. This also happens to be the worst season of his career. He’s a better player than this, and even now he’s still a pretty decent player.

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He is also a player the Oilers might have some trouble replacing. It’s not always easy to simply conjure up an offensively gifted forward in the prime of his career. Looking at free agency, the only right-shooting forward under the age of 30 with similar numbers to Eberle this season is Sam Gagner, who was only able to board his plane leaving Edmonton the last time because GM Craig MacTavish confused the angry mob chasing him by throwing Teddy Purcell at them and shouting “6’2”, 6’2” over and over.  

Other options in free agency include Alexander Radulov (31 in July, already making $5.75 million) and the usual laundry list of cheap bandaids (Kris Versteeg, P-A Parenteau, Radim Vrbata) that the Oilers either passed on or drove away this summer.

There’s always a trade, of course. The problem with dumping Eberle for nothing and then trading something to replace him is that it obviously is going to be a drain on the organization’s resources.

As a rule, I’m a believer in trading players when everything is going right for them. In the summer of 2012, I was one of the leading proponents behind the idea of trading Eberle because his 34-goal, 76-point season seemed an obvious high-water mark and it should have been possible to cash-in on that temporary spike in value.

By the same token, if Eberle’s value has really fallen so far as to consider giving him away for free, it’s obviously the worstp ossible time to move him out of town.

I’m not convinced that Eberle’s value has taken such a tumble, though it's obviously difficult to move a $6.0 million contract in-season. The speculation this morning that there isn't much market for him in the present makes sense, but doesn't mean the same will be true in the summer, or that Edmonton couldn't make something work if they were willing to be flexible financially. Assuming Eberle still has some value, the idea of trading him isn’t out to lunch.

That’s the key, though. An Eberle trade for fair value the other way wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest and would be entirely defensible. Dumping Eberle for absolutely nothing during what is obviously a temporary downturn? That would be a mistake.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Keg on Legs
February 03 2017, 03:40PM
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Don't think Vegas would claim him anyway, unless they need to get to the cap floor

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#52 Trainreck Is Over??
February 03 2017, 03:40PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

I think you are confusing the words "sniper" and "elite". A player who averages better than one goal every three games is a sniper in today's NHL.

A guy who has the ability to snap a shot like Eberle does is a sniper. There aren't many players in the NHL who average 25 goals or more a season as reliably as he has.

Sniper according to Oxfords. A player known for his goal scoring ability CHECK. Snipers usually have excellent wrist shots, does not check that box, Are able to free themselves up from defensive coverage, does not check that box, and go into the scoring areas, does not check that box. Respectfully I think it is you who are confused by the terminology. Eberle misses two out of three by definition.

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#53 Spydyr
February 03 2017, 03:41PM
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Hemmercules wrote:

Spyder doesn't live in the past. He's all about now. Right now, Eberle is not a first line player, and not a sniper.

I like Eberle, but the theory that he can't hold his own now that teams actually play hard against the Oiler feels like it holds some weight. I keep expecting him to start sniping those top corners one of these days but its seems like more and more little dish passes and getting out muscled in the offensive zone. Good player but not a Chia player.

The whole thing lies on a replacement. As far as I'm concerend, they are stuck with him until something better on RW comes along.

Exactly Eberle was given every chance to perform with the NHL leading scorer, one of the top players in the NHL and Eberle failed so miserably he was demoted to the third line. In his defence he was worked his way up but that might have more to do with no other options being available on right wing.

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#54 Not a First Tier Fan
February 03 2017, 03:46PM
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@Spydyr

I really care what Spydyr thinks about Eberle...

...said nobody ever.

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#55 Spydyr
February 03 2017, 03:52PM
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Not a First Tier Fan wrote:

I really care what Spydyr thinks about Eberle...

...said nobody ever.

If my comments about Eberle on a article about Eberle offend you in any way. I don't care.

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#56 Trainreck Is Over??
February 03 2017, 03:54PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Exactly Eberle was given every chance to perform with the NHL leading scorer, one of the top players in the NHL and Eberle failed so miserably he was demoted to the third line. In his defence he was worked his way up but that might have more to do with no other options being available on right wing.

That 3 or 4 game stretch where he was engaged was good to see, unfortunately did not last again. And will continue to do so. If you cannot elevate your game with one the best players on the planet, knowing you are heading to the playoffs for the first time, I doubt there is anything else that could possibly get him motivated. I personally thought he finally had a good centre and had him booked for 30-40 goals this season, so occasionally I guess I drink the Kool Aid too.

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#57 Jay (not J)
February 03 2017, 03:57PM
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Shameless Plugger wrote:

Even the most staunch Eberle haters (Spydyr) would have to agree the notion of leaving him unprotected is ludicrous.

I don't hate the guy (I find the personal investment some people here have in seeing him gone a little bit creepy) but I don't pretend he's worth what he's getting paid and I don't see how leaving him unprotected is ludicrous. First off, I doubt he would be taken. MacPhee's no phool. Even if he is there will be free agents available and there will be young hopefuls looking to fill that spot. Sure letting him go for nothing looks like it would suck, but someone's going for nothing so why not a guy who's worth less than he's getting paid versus someone who is fitting into the McDavid/ Drai centric cost structure that this team will have? I wouldn't like to see him jettisoned at the deadline, I'd like to see him play for the Oilers in the playoffs but after that the team needs to be gearing for its future and that doesn't include carrying expensive underachievers.

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#58 Spydyr
February 03 2017, 03:57PM
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Trainreck Is Over?? wrote:

That 3 or 4 game stretch where he was engaged was good to see, unfortunately did not last again. And will continue to do so. If you cannot elevate your game with one the best players on the planet, knowing you are heading to the playoffs for the first time, I doubt there is anything else that could possibly get him motivated. I personally thought he finally had a good centre and had him booked for 30-40 goals this season, so occasionally I guess I drink the Kool Aid too.

I'm pretty sure when the ice gets tighter, the hitting harder and the games more intense come playoff time Eberle will find it very difficult.

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#59 dolenator
February 03 2017, 03:58PM
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Sir Dudeinstein wrote:

"Eberle is a first line sniper"

How many times have eberle wrist a shot to go for a top corner, only for the puck to ring around the boards and out. I counted three times yesterday vs Nashville. Sure one goal in 30 attempts of that will look pretty, but he is kind of a cyclebreaker

If you look at his career shooting percentage he is 13.4 percent 50th overall since he entered the league and 47th in ppg at. 0.76 maybe not a grade A sniper but those are tough numbers to argue against

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#60 Hemmercules
February 03 2017, 03:58PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Exactly Eberle was given every chance to perform with the NHL leading scorer, one of the top players in the NHL and Eberle failed so miserably he was demoted to the third line. In his defence he was worked his way up but that might have more to do with no other options being available on right wing.

If I'm Chia. I hold on to Eberle until free agency this summer. If a solid RW or C that can play wing is available for less than 6 mil then sign him up. Teams that miss on free agency might bite a little harder at that time and if not, trade him for picks or whatever you can get if getting his cap off the books is all they are worried about.

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#61 TigerUnderGlass
February 03 2017, 04:01PM
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Trainreck Is Over?? wrote:

Sniper according to Oxfords. A player known for his goal scoring ability CHECK. Snipers usually have excellent wrist shots, does not check that box, Are able to free themselves up from defensive coverage, does not check that box, and go into the scoring areas, does not check that box. Respectfully I think it is you who are confused by the terminology. Eberle misses two out of three by definition.

Why are you asking your shoes about hockey players?

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#62 McDavid's Comet
February 03 2017, 04:02PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Ask yourself this:

Would the team be better letting Eberle go then using his six million to sign Oshie.

Or would it be better to let Davidson go and have Eberle over Oshie?

Oshie and Davidson or Eberle.

I know there is no guarantee they can sign Oshie this is just hypothetical.

Yes, it would be better to have Davidson AND Oshie over Eberle, however Oshie is not a guarantee. Wouldn't it be better if we went with Eberle for the playoffs (possibly upping his value in the process) and trade him to LV at the expansion draft, get some asset(s) for him and then try and sign Oshie at free agency providing he isn't signed with NY by then. Remember we won't be the only team vining for his services.

I understand your positioning on Ebs but, it would be better to TRY and up his value before trading him for a "bag of pucks" or letting him go for nothing in return, and no I'm not a fan boy. I'm just not a fan of giving away assets for nothing; no matter how much value they have.

Here's a hypothetical for you: trade Ebs to LV for the guarantee that they take Pouliot in the exp. draft? That will free up 10+mill in cap space.

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#63 Spydyr
February 03 2017, 04:03PM
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Hemmercules wrote:

If I'm Chia. I hold on to Eberle until free agency this summer. If a solid RW or C that can play wing is available for less than 6 mil then sign him up. Teams that miss on free agency might bite a little harder at that time and if not, trade him for picks or whatever you can get if getting his cap off the books is all they are worried about.

I'm pretty sure Eberle will not be an Oiler come next fall. He just has not performed nor does he fit into the type of team Chia is building here. Don't you think Chia offered Eberle before Hall in the Larsson deal?

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#64 916oiler
February 03 2017, 04:17PM
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Are you drunk Willis??

NOOO we should NOT give away a borderline NHL 1st line RW.

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#65 @Hallsy4
February 03 2017, 04:29PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

People have been trying to get rid of Eberle since they drafted Yakupov. I can't understand it. He's an offensive weapon and he's having a bit of an off year but the guy has skills.

If you can trade him for another lunch-pail hero just say no. If you can get value then great. Giving him up for nothing? Give me a break.

Eberle is a first line sniper. You keep those players. Especially when you have a team full of dishers like McDavid, Draisaitl and RNH.

A first line sniper who can't snipe with his new stick. Like a sniper using a water pistol. The writing is on the wall Ebs, sometimes a skills coach does more harm than good. EBS, Use the stick that got you here brother, listen carefully to these words boy.

Eberle did not need a skills coach, his old skills were what made him a good player, before he changed them. It wasn't his defensive awareness or size or the like that got him to a former 1st line NHLer.

Go back to your old stick, and forget whatever your skills coach said. Next, hire Gary Roberts or Leon's Dad to get you in shape. Listen carefully to what I say boy, your'e flushing a lot of god given talent down the drain.

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#66 dolenator
February 03 2017, 04:31PM
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Would a eberle for Bobby ryan trade be insane?

although that's even bigger cap hit

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#67 SSB1963
February 03 2017, 04:37PM
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Shameless Plugger wrote:

Even the most staunch Eberle haters (Spydyr) would have to agree the notion of leaving him unprotected is ludicrous.

Ebs and RNH haters like the bang and crash game. You can have those players because basically move of them have little to no puck sense or skill. The cold hard facts are that Eberle and RNH are not bangers in that sense. They are just to small to play that game.

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#68 SSB1963
February 03 2017, 04:39PM
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Hemmercules wrote:

If Eberle made less money the haters would be far less abundant. His lack of offence is just fuelling the fire this year. I have to a agree with them though, if he's taking up that much cap space his production isnt nearly enough right now. Tough situation, ditching him for nothing is a bad way to go but trading him wont be easy either. I think you have to hang on to him until either: a decent deal comes along, another RW became available somehow (UFA, emerging prospect, etc.) or he has to be moved to clear cap for others. None of those appear to be happening at this point.

Compare him to Johnny Hockey and tell me his production isn't enough? And I might tell you that more is expected out of JG but nobody is calling for his head down here!

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#69 SSB1963
February 03 2017, 04:47PM
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S cottV wrote:

For me - it's more the lack of fit for the new PC vision for the club. A vision that I certainly support.

A vision that makes it difficult to keep a player like Eberle. He is not a hard player to play against.

That said - I would certainly prefer to get something for him.

I think your critique is overly generous.

Had this argument discussion the other day over Toews vs Malkin.

Basing something on mostly points can be misleading. Other factors to consider.

Such as - this is the first year that Eberle has played in a tight - expect to win environment, which means way more emphasis on making sure if any pucks go in a net - its the right one. This puts a significant crimp on being loose with risk vs reward, toward generating offence.

Also - teams take us seriously now. Number one goalies, tight checking and an opposition A game.

All things considered - and I wouldn't bet on any kind of significant resurgence.

Disagree. You can't have a whole team of Lucic's and Maroon's neither of which are great skaters. Spent a good portion of my life coaching young kids and Eberle isn't as bad as some of the posters think. He is just not their type of player.

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#70 SSB1963
February 03 2017, 04:49PM
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Sir Dudeinstein wrote:

"Eberle is a first line sniper"

How many times have eberle wrist a shot to go for a top corner, only for the puck to ring around the boards and out. I counted three times yesterday vs Nashville. Sure one goal in 30 attempts of that will look pretty, but he is kind of a cyclebreaker

as far as that goes how many times have we seen him ring it off the post or crossbar! If those had gone in we wouldn't be having this conversation.

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#71 Not a First Tier Fan
February 03 2017, 04:49PM
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@Spydyr

I would say it's the quantity... Everyone knows how you feel but you spend time every article trying to shout down those who disagree with you.

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#72 SSB1963
February 03 2017, 04:57PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Exactly Eberle was given every chance to perform with the NHL leading scorer, one of the top players in the NHL and Eberle failed so miserably he was demoted to the third line. In his defence he was worked his way up but that might have more to do with no other options being available on right wing.

Failed Miserably?

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#73 SSB1963
February 03 2017, 04:58PM
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Spydyr wrote:

I'm pretty sure when the ice gets tighter, the hitting harder and the games more intense come playoff time Eberle will find it very difficult.

Well then why don't we wait and see how this all plays out then.

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#74 camdog
February 03 2017, 05:11PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Yeah, I have heard him and Fayne are playing well in the AHL but as Lander has shown his entire career playing well in the AHL does not always translate to the NHL.

If the Oilers had a healthy line up Davidson would be getting the same number of NHL minutes that Lander is getting.

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#75 Osto77
February 03 2017, 05:19PM
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It's nice to see people embracing the game like this! Way to make us Oilers fans proud!

http://globalnews.ca/video/3225956/edmonton-oilers-fans-buy-predators-jersey-for-young-nashville-fan/?utm_source=Article&utm_medium=MostPopularVideo&utm_campaign=2017

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#76 Hemi-97
February 03 2017, 05:19PM
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dolenator wrote:

Would a eberle for Bobby ryan trade be insane?

although that's even bigger cap hit

Kevin Lowe once said Bobby Ryan would be a complete flop. That's the kicker sign him up!!

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#77 drew23
February 03 2017, 06:10PM
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Oilers will not make the playoffs after losing 10 in a row in Feburary. It's the Katz Kurse. That troll signed lucic, Pouliot, Eberle and RNH to 22 million a year. They are not worth half that. Our team is too slow!

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#78 McDavid's Comet
February 03 2017, 06:19PM
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drew23 wrote:

Oilers will not make the playoffs after losing 10 in a row in Feburary. It's the Katz Kurse. That troll signed lucic, Pouliot, Eberle and RNH to 22 million a year. They are not worth half that. Our team is too slow!

Is this Drew Remenda?

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#79 Spydyr
February 03 2017, 06:19PM
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On Carolina's first goal Eberle lets a muffin of a shot go. It is ten feet wide. He then gets knocked on his a$$ by a slight bump. He can be seen coasting back as the puck goes into his net he flips his stick in his hands. Yep, he is a keeper.

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#80 OilBlood
February 03 2017, 06:25PM
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Spyder is a plug

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#81 Spydyr
February 03 2017, 06:49PM
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SSB1963 wrote:

Ebs and RNH haters like the bang and crash game. You can have those players because basically move of them have little to no puck sense or skill. The cold hard facts are that Eberle and RNH are not bangers in that sense. They are just to small to play that game.

That's is not at all true. I'm a huge fan of the Nuge's game.

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#82 Spydyr
February 03 2017, 06:51PM
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OilBlood wrote:

Spyder is a plug

A plug that can spell a name literally two inches away from where you are typing.

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#83 TruthHurts98
February 03 2017, 06:51PM
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If only Ebs had half the drive and desire of Connor. He has talent, but listening to his shooting coach is obviously screwing with him. Go back to the short stick and grow a pair, then fans will love him again. He's way too soft at the moment. But to his credit his plus minus has improved since earlier in the season and sometimes he back checks. He's maybe worth 2-3 million a year, maybe.

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#84 OilBlood
February 03 2017, 06:52PM
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Spyder is a plug

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#85 Dolby
February 03 2017, 07:12PM
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Try to trade him at deadline. If no trade value then let Vegas have a pick. If they don't pick him then we are stuck with this baggage handler.

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#86 Spydyr
February 03 2017, 07:19PM
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The boys were working hard in the second. If they keep that up good things will happen barring a bad/weak goal against.

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#87 drew23
February 03 2017, 07:36PM
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oilers suck again. \\\\\\\\katz is a ^^^^^^^^ troll. Don't protect Eberle

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#88 Jay (not J)
February 03 2017, 08:10PM
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Hurting. Like a bucket of sweetsauce or a night in Carolina. They got some sort of rubber magnet in that left post there though.

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#89 Boom or Bust
February 03 2017, 08:20PM
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Thanks Eberle...for nothing

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#90 IRONman
February 03 2017, 08:53PM
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Good bye 93, 67 and 14

16 million ???

Juice is not worth the squeeze.

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#91 NealH
February 03 2017, 09:23PM
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This is going to be the same argument I made with the Horcoff haters:

The fact that Eberle is not worth his contract is NOT the player's fault! That belongs on the management idiot who offered it! Players are what they are, and so it is with Eberle.

Those who buy this argument are basically advocating addition by subtraction. This can be a valid argument, but ONLY after all other options and alternatives have been explored. A team's player resources are it's most valuable asset and cannot just be squandered.

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#92 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
February 03 2017, 11:31PM
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Why don't we wait and see how he does in the playoffs. That should be a good indication if he has a future in Oiler silk.

Or we can see if Jersey will take Lucic for Hall. Reunite the boys. Problem solved.

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#93 I am Batman
February 03 2017, 11:37PM
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The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33 wrote:

Why don't we wait and see how he does in the playoffs. That should be a good indication if he has a future in Oiler silk.

Or we can see if Jersey will take Lucic for Hall. Reunite the boys. Problem solved.

You do not see how he avoids contact????

One, two .... chip.

One, two, giveaway

One, two shoot 7 feet away from the net.

I get we haven't had playoffs, but I watched those and contact is brutal. Especially the first round. Eberle either gets killed or cries in a corner on day 1 of playoffs

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#94 Bills Bills
February 04 2017, 01:28AM
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I am not a huge Eberle fan but let me just say this. Anyone who wants to expose him in the expansion draft or trade him for a 2nd or 3rd round pick is just plain stupid. Seriously, you need to leave your mom's basement and get some vitamin D.

You will never be a GM and I am very happy about that.

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#95 Anton CP
February 04 2017, 03:28AM
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If Eberle is gone by trade deadline then guess we don't have to worry about that.

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#96 MessyEH!
February 04 2017, 06:22AM
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I have wanted to trade Eberle for the last 5 seasons.

When his value was high. I called him Hemsky 2.0. Sell while the league loved him. We knew what he was, a soft undersized winger. There was a time we could have got real help by trading this player. That time is not now.

He will rebound. He will put the puck in the net. I will never deny the man's talent. He is exactly the type of player that will turn things around once he's given another chance. Let's let that turn around be with us.

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#97 reidja
February 04 2017, 10:10AM
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He'll never live up to that contract so any trade would be extreamly one-sided. Is exposing him a good use of resources? No, of course not. But it does get rid of a pretty bad use of about $2M bucks.

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#98 Thumby
February 04 2017, 10:45AM
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Spydyr wrote:

If my comments about Eberle on a article about Eberle offend you in any way. I don't care.

Hey! I care what Snyder says! LOL!

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#99 OilCan2
February 04 2017, 12:02PM
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Ebs is doing just fine. His numbers show he is a good RW.

Keep him for the playoffs and give him a chance to get a few clutch goals.

Honestly I think that players of his caliber (Saad & Duchene) would be a straight push not an upgrade.

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