This morning in the Mailbag, Steveland Cleamer asked what kind of moves we’d expect the Oilers to do in the offseason and a few of the writers wondered if we’ve seen the last of Jordan Eberle in Blue and Orange. Me? I’m not so sure.
Even though most of the Nation is already sending Jordan Eberle out of town regardless of the return, I spent the weekend thinking about how it’s almost as likely that he comes back next season. Remember last summer when it seemed like Eberle or Nugent-Hopkins were going to be traded in order to shore up the defence? What happened to that? I don’t think many of us expected that it was going to be Taylor Hall that got shipped out before the other two, and the shock of that trade taught me not to expect anything when it comes to player movement.
Something about counting chickens and horses before carts…
From the Oilers’ side of things, there are only so many ways you can lose a trade and they’ve already checked off enough of those boxes. My point is, are you going to be happy getting a mid-level pick or a bad contract back as a return for Jordan Eberle? I mean, I know he had a tough year but can you honestly say that losing a perennial 50+ point guy for nothing is a good idea? Before you start telling me about how bad Eberle’s year was, let’s look at some of the players that signed in the $6 million neighbourhood last summer:
Milan Lucic – (82 GP) 23G, 27A = 50 points
Kyle Okposo – (65 GP) 19G, 26A = 45 points
Andrew Ladd – (78 GP) 23G, 8A = 31 points
Loui Eriksson – (65 GP) 11G, 13A = 24 points
David Backes – (74 GP) 17G, 21A = 38 points
If you’re mad about Eberle’s production (20G, 31A = 51 points) then I bet you’re furious about how the guys on this list have done too, right? Of course, I don’t really mean that but you can understand the point I’m getting at. Did Jordan Eberle have a bad year? Yes, no one is arguing that. Is he still a better option on the right wing than many others? No doubt about it. Believe it or not, Eberle ranked 21st among right wingers in league scoring and that offence is not something that you can easily replace.
Question: If you’re in the ‘Trade Eberle’ camp then who do you think will pick up the slack on those 50 points?
From where I blog, the biggest knock on Jordan Eberle is that he doesn’t really play a style of hockey that fits within Peter Chiarelli’s vision. When you look at the guys that Swag Daddy has brought in so far, you see players that are polar opposites in terms of style of play from what ol’ Jordan provides. Chiarelli likes guys that drive to the net, and are willing to muck around in the crease. Playing on the perimeter isn’t cutting it around these parts anymore, and Eberle is going to have to do some soul searching if he’s going to change his approach. At (soon to be) 27-years-old, you have to wonder if changing his style completely is even possible or if he’s willing to put in the work required to get there.
There’s also the fact that Jordan Eberle has only two years left on his contract (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has four) and that means that a decision needs to come sooner rather than later. The countdown clock is already ticking on whether or not Chiarelli wants Eberle around, and while needing to move him isn’t really imminent quite yet considering they have some cap space to play with and one more year until Connor’s contract kicks in, they can’t let this drag on either. If the Oilers don’t see Eberle being around long term then how can they maximize his trade value? If they do want him around, then what is the plan beyond next season? With only two years left on his deal it could make it easier for Chiarelli to move Eberle (compared to Nuge) if he so chooses.
Question: If you want to keep Eberle then how will the Oilers help alleviate some of the cap pressure they’ll be up against?
WHAT I DO KNOW IS THAT I DON’T KNOW
At the end of the day, what I know for sure is that I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen and anyone that says otherwise is just guessing at best. Even though it may seem obvious that Jordan Eberle will be the one to get moved over the summer, I probably would have said the same thing last year. To me, moving Eberle over Hall in order to bring in a right-handed defenceman seemed like a no brainer and that swinging miss makes me think that I should learn a lesson from history. We have no idea what other GMs think when assessing players on our roster and we certainly don’t know what Peter Chiarelli is thinking either. That uncertainty makes for an interesting summer, and I’m guessing that what we all think will happen and what actually happens will be two very different things.