Oiler trade rumours are always all over the place in terms
of who is going and why, but there has been a common thread during this
rebuild: whichever Oiler is rumoured to be traded will almost certainly be portrayed
as a slug. Now it’s Jordan Eberle’s turn. I have to admit I didn’t see that one coming before this season.
I mean, I should have seen it coming. Every outgoing Oiler
has been subject to the same treatment. You would have thought Hemsky was an
AHL regular when he was moved. If Oiler fans (and certain members of the media)
were to be believed, Jeff Petry was made of paper when he left the club. Jordan
Eberle is no different.
And can you blame everyone? The Oilers are terrible.
Therefore, all their players are terrible. It’s pretty simple.
Of course, we know that isn’t true, but instincts are so
difficult to re-wire.
Jordan Eberle’s name has come up in trade discussion because
the Oilers have been run so poorly for so long that quite literally the only
thing they could do well was draft in the first round. Combined with a natural
(and appropriate) bias towards scoring forwards near the top of the draft, that
left the franchise with more talent up front than anywhere else by far.
Had the Oilers not blown the job of acquiring goaltending
and defense for the last seven years we wouldn’t be mentioning Jordan Eberle in trade
scenarios because he’s a very good player. He’s the kind of player teams should
be holding onto. Instead, the Oilers are in a position where they have to part
with a quality young forward in order to make up for the terrible position the
last two GMs have put the team in.
No doubt, if Jordan Eberle (or God forbid Ryan
Nugent-Hopkins) has to be traded for a defenseman it falls on the failure of
the organization to procure and/or keep any quality right-handed defensemen
much more than it falls on the player himself.
As I’ve mentioned previously, the fans and the media can be
a fickle bunch. While the speculation of the day has fallen back to Eberle for
Hamonic, there is an alarming number of people who are treating Eberle like
damaged goods. As if he’s deficient and the Islanders would lose the deal hands
down. Instead of acknowledging the fact that he’s a first line right winger in
the NHL, people have taken to referring to him as “a 6 million dollar winger”. As
if he’s an overpaid slug.
This is insane.
Let’s not forget for a moment that Travis Hamonic has
demanded a trade to a city in the north-west. Garth Snow has an asset that he
has to trade. He only has 5-6 different teams he can make a trade with to
satisfy the demands of his player. All 5-6 GMs are fully aware of this
In terms of leverage, Snow can only hope to create a bidding
war between those select few organizations and if that fails to materialize
that leaves him between a rock and a hard place.
Jordan Eberle is a quality scorer in the NHL on a team that
struggles to score. The Oilers have not exactly been an easy team to play for during
these dark years. Over the last three seasons the Oilers are 27th in
Goals For in the NHL — #14 in Oiler silks has been getting the job done at an
elite level on a club that simply does not score.
If we limit the discussion of his production to just the last three years then we should get a pretty good handle on the player Jordan Eberle
should be moving forward. He’s 25 years old and should stay reasonably close to
his established level of play for some time. So what is that?
Looking only at points from right wingers over the last three seasons, Jordan Eberle is eighth with 150 in 198 games. That’s more
than Jagr. More than Hossa. More than Ryan and Iginla. Jordan Eberle is not
just some 6 million dollar bill that the Oilers have to pay. He is one of the
best scorers in the NHL playing his position. Period.
In terms of power play points, Eberle is sixth
among RW’s in scoring on the man-advantage. He has 46 power play points in
those 198 games. This while Edmonton’s power play efficiency during that time
was in the bottom third of the league at 17%.
Edmonton is a sub-par power play team and still Eberle has
been killing it on the PP. Edmonton can’t score in general and yet he still
creates offense at an elite level. This is impressive. This is damned
People shouldn’t be talking about how soft Jordan Eberle is.
They shouldn’t be mentioning his name in this trade scenario like the Islanders
would be doing the Oilers a favor by taking him off their hands.
Jordan Eberle’s name has been linked to trade rumours all
year. More specifically he’s been linked to Hamonic and the Islanders. Even
though history tells us Oiler players will be dragged through the mud on their
way out of town until all we can see is the filth, some common sense and a
little thought can cut right through that.
Eberle isn’t soft. He isn’t some overpaid nobody. He is one
of the highest scoring right wingers in the National Hockey League and both we
and the organization would be fools to forget it. The Islanders should be lucky
to land a player of his caliber in exchange for one who has demanded out of New
York and back to this part of the world.