Yesterday, Peter Chiarelli sat down for an interview with TSN’s Pierre LeBrun to talk about a range of topics from Jordan Eberle trade speculation to Connor McDavid’s new contract to Kris Russell to culture changes. In this article, I’m going to focus specifically on what the Oilers GM had to say about trading Ebs and re-signing the dynamic duo.
Although the Jordan Eberle topic has been beaten to death already, I still think it’s interesting to hear Peter Chiarelli’s thoughts, even though he doesn’t say much. It’s been a while since we’ve had a GM in Edmonton that keeps his cards this close to his vest. Sorry, MacT, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I mean, you could argue that Steve Tambellini didn’t say much, but I think that’s because he wasn’t really doing much either, allegedly in my opinion.
Shots at the failed rebuilds aside, let’s break down the interview.
On Jordan Eberle:
Since every dead horse needs another kick, I’m starting off the breakdown with Chiarelli’s thoughts on Jordan Eberle. LeBrun asked him directly about the heat Eberle has been taking so far this offseason and, once again, Peter Chiarelli downplayed the chatter:
“Part of when you have success and when you haven’t had it (previously), there are a lot of old embers and coals that get reheated and everything is a discussion point… you like the fact that you’re in the news and that people are emotional about the things you do. This is part and parcel with having success.”
That’s some nice deflection there, Pete. Actually, I admire the way you can answer a question without really saying much of anything. You must have learned that at Harvard. It seems like a Harvard thing. What about having to move Ebs because of the salary cap?
“The way we’re going to have to spend our money in the future probably will mean us moving a player. When that future is, I don’t know. Basically, we’ve got a year to play with in my mind.”
I actually agree with that. Even with Leon’s contract being tacked on for next season, the Oilers will still have some cap space to play with to try to load up for a playoff push. That means moving Eberle isn’t a must-do item even though some may wish it was.
“Outside of two players, (Jordan) probably had the most positive touches of the puck on our team. So I really don’t feel the need to defend him.”
Positive touches, huh? I’ve given myself quite a few positive touches over the years but I hardly think that’s something to brag about.
“He didn’t have a great playoff – he didn’t have a good playoff – but he did a lot of things that we expected of him. He just didn’t have the offence that we expected him to have in the playoffs.”
Improving on the defensive side of the puck is definitely something that Jordan has gotten better at over the last 24 months, but the problem is that he still has to score. When he’s not doing that, his defence isn’t strong enough to make up for the lack of offensive production and, I think, that is what’s pissing people off.
“What he does is create space with his touches and I thought he played well. In his defence, it was the first time he’s been in the playoffs. If you look back to a player like Datsyuk… look at Datsyuk’s first time in the playoffs. This is a big step for them. It’s a different level of competition.”
Wait now Eberle is getting compared to Datsyuk? I thought that was Nuge’s schtick. I’m getting confused here, Pete. Can you just tell me what’s going on with Jordan Eberle?
“I don’t feel the need to defend him. I think he’s been unfairly characterized but a byproduct of having success and where the expectations are. I’m happy to have him on our team.”
Happy, huh? Is that like being happy that your scratch ticket just hit $100 or ‘happy’ as in your sunburn only covers 60% of your body rather than the full 100%? Which happy is it?
On McDavid and Draisaitl’s contracts:
With Leon needing a new deal this summer and Connor being eligible on July 1st, everyone in the 7-8-0 wants to know how much and for how long. When LeBrun asked about what the plan is for these two guys, Peter Chiarelli, once again, didn’t offer up much info.
“Well, we’re going to sign them. *laughs*“
“Those are priorities. At our season-ending press conference, I said we have to take care of these guys first. And I told the players that need contracts beyond that they’ll have to wait.”
Now I’m picturing players standing outside of Chiarelli’s office, asking for new contracts like Oliver Twist when he asked for more gruel. The visual is pretty funny depending on which player you use as your Oliver Twist character. But seriously, though. What’s going on?
“We’re in negotiations.”
C’mon, Pete. Give us something here. At least tell us what you’re thinking in regards to term.
“I want to take care of them first contractually. I think that tells you that these are two important parts of our franchise. We’ll take care of those and figure out the rest.”
Okay, so what we know is that no one is getting a new contract until Leon and Connor are done but that really doesn’t tell us much else. Ugh… how many days is it until July 1st?
As you would expect, Chiarelli didn’t give much info in his sit down with LeBrun and it’s always interesting to see how he’ll dance around the questions. My question is whether or not Chiarelli will look to hang onto Eberle for at least one more year, or if he’s just protecting the value of his asset heading into trade season again. I guess we’ll have to wait and see because the words leaving the horse’s mouth don’t shine much light on what’s to come. Then again, I don’t know why that would be surprising considering Chiarelli’s reluctance to show his cards before he has to.