In this week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday, we’re going to start with a simple assumption: The Edmonton Oilers are going to trade one of their expensive forwards, both to land a quality defenceman and with an eye to the club’s long-term salary cap health. This assumption may or not be true, but it is plausible and we’re making it for the purpose of this exercise.
Our question to you: Which one should it be?
Some key figures for each of these players follow, presented in alphabetical order.
- Contract: $6.0 million per season for three years after this one.
- Vital statistics: 5’11”, 181 pounds, turns 26 in May.
- 82-game average, past three seasons: 27 goals, 36 assists, 63 points.
- Underlying statistics, past three season: 1.92 5v5 P/60, 4.92 5v4 P/60, 47.7% Fenwick.
Eberle has some significant items working against him. He is the oldest of the trio, the smallest, and has the fewest seasons remaining under team control. He does not play a physical game, and he has issues defensively, notably with getting the puck out of the Oilers’ end when under pressure.
However, he also has some unique points in his favour. He is a right shot, one of the few on the team and the only one who really belongs on the top power play (his numbers on the man advantage are excellent over the past three seasons). He is a legitimate first-line right wing on a team without another serious contender to that position.
He’ll have significant trade value, but perhaps less than the other two players here, as he lacks Hall’s 5-on-5 dynamism and unlike Nugent-Hopkins, he can’t play centre.
- Contract: $6.0 million per season for four years after this one.
- Vital statistics: 6’1”, 201 pounds, turns 25 in November.
- 82-game average, past three seasons: 26 goals, 47 assists, 73 points.
- Underlying statistics, past three season: 2.42 5v5 P/60, 3.54 5v4 P/60, 48.1% Fenwick.
Hall is the most dynamic five-on-five threat on this list and it isn’t particularly close; he is an elite scorer at even-strength. Despite complaints about the size of the Oilers’ young forwards he’s actually fairly big, and he plays a rambunctious style that makes him unique on this list.
Injuries have been a problem at times, though his instinct for self-preservation seems to have improved with experience. A succession of Edmonton coaches have yet to find a power play role for him that really works.
I’d assess his trade value as being far-and-away the best on this list.
- Contract: $6.0 million per season for five years after this one.
- Vital statistics: 6’, 189 pounds, turns 23 in April.
- 82-game average, past three seasons: 21 goals, 37 assists, 58 points.
- Underlying statistics, past three season: 1.65 5v5 P/60, 4.39 5v4 P/60, 46.3% Fenwick.
The best pure defensive player of this trio, Nugent-Hopkins is also the youngest (he’s still three years away from the heart of his career) and the one under team control for the longest period of time. He’s a strong power play weapon, but he trails the other two players on this list as an even-strength offensive threat.
His position lends itself to multiple interpretations. One common view is that having extra centres is a very good thing indeed, and that one or more can always be bumped over to the wing (something we’ve seen time and again across the league). Another common view is that with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl there’s absolutely no need for Edmonton to worry about keeping a third strong pivot.
I’d assess his trade value as falling between Hall and Eberle, but given his youth, length of contract and position probably closer to the former than the latter
This brings us back to our original question: If Edmonton trades one of these players, which should it be?