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Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The Way I See It

If I admit my bias when it comes to the type of players I tend to gravitate toward, Jordan Eberle was never much of a magnet for me. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a good player during his tenure with the Edmonton Oilers because he was. It doesn’t mean that he won’t be a good player with the New York Islanders. He will.

While I favor players with more dimensions to their game than those Eberle possessed – for starters, I like more physicality and edginess than he showed – there’s no question the shifty right winger brought a skill-set that many players don’t have. Eberle had the ability to score goals and generate offensive opportunities. That was his calling card. That’s why he’s an NHL player.

The problem for Eberle, as is the case with players of the same specific skill-set, is that if he isn’t scoring and producing points, then lack of other dimensions is magnified and criticism about the other things that player doesn’t do – play a physical game, compete like his life depends on it almost every single shift and on and on – becomes the focus. We see the flaws. It’s human nature.

So, you get what we got when GM Peter Chiarelli traded Eberle and his $6-million annual salary to the Islanders for Ryan Strome, who is younger and cheaper and, at this point, not nearly as productive. The Oilers save themselves $3.5 million in cap space and get a prospect in Strome who still isn’t a finished product. The Islanders get a player who, even in a down year, is good for 20 or so goals a season. They don’t grow on trees.

I understand why Chiarelli made the move. Players named Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are the offensive drivers now. Both of them are going to get paid. Eberle? Given his faltering production and the post-season he had, plus that big ticket, he morphed into an expensive spare part representing money better spent elsewhere. I won’t be a bit surprised if he returns to form and finds a fit with the Islanders. Likewise, it won’t be a shocker to me if Strome finds a niche and blossoms here with his new teammates. Good luck to Jordan Eberle.

WHAT ABOUT OSCAR?

Mar 7, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Oscar Klefbom (77) skates against the New York Islanders at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers’ D-man Oscar Klefbom finished fifth in voting for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy that was awarded to Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames Wednesday. I think that result shortchanged Klefbom and the season he had, but it wasn’t a big surprise, given the history of the award.

Just once in the last 50 years has a defenceman won the award – Brian Campbell of Chicago was voted the honor in 2011-12. Blueliners have won the Byng just five times since the award came into existence in 1924-25. If that’s not an oversight, I don’t know what is. The Byng is presented each year to “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

Klefbom played all 82 games for the Oilers this season. The big Swede produced 12-26-38, averaged 22:22 in ice time per game and accumulated just six penalty minutes. Six! If that’s not an example of gentlemanly conduct with a high standard of playing ability, I don’t know what is. I turned in my PHWA card several years ago after serving as Edmonton chapter chairman for many seasons, so I don’t vote on awards anymore, but I’ve never understood the tilt toward forwards when it comes to the Byng.

WHILE I’M AT IT

  • McDavid winning the Art Ross, Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award was the first trifecta by an Oiler since Wayne Gretzky used to make off with armfuls of silverware annually and was well-deserved. That said, I put more weight in the Lindsay (formerly the Lester B. Pearson Award) than the Hart because it’s voted on by members of the NHLPA.
  • GM George McPhee isn’t finished putting together the Las Vegas Golden Knights yet, not with all the D-men he has stockpiled, but it looks to me like he might have a relatively competitive team right away based on the roster now. I’m not sure how they’ll fare in the standings, but hitting the ice for year one with Marc-Andre Fleury in goal and James Neal up front doesn’t look like a bad place to start.
  • Bless you, Bryan Bickell.

RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  

  • Serious Gord

    I don’t think I’m alone in expecting a lot more out of eberle than we got in the playoffs. And that that expectation was based on what i/we saw him do back when he was a junior when he was so clutch.

    The season some argue that eberle played a better defensive game and they might be right – he wasn’t AS blatantly lazy on the backcheck or covering his man as he was in previous seasons.

    But I don’t think next season will be a bounceback for him. To my eye he seems slower – not just skating, but in the quickness of his release and reaction times. And I don’t think he regains that quickness.

    I am glad he is gone. I wish him luck and that he proves me wrong. But after he disappointed us so badly this postseason (even just a bit of scoring could have gotten the team to the next round) I don’t care that much either way.

    • camdog

      Release was slower last season. The people that don’t watch the game (spreadsheet guys) may not have noticed it but it was evident. Maybe the change in stick was the reason. Maybe it was the way he is defended there isn’t as much time in his scoring areas as there was when he broke into the league. Maybe it’s just age and injuries that have added up. Regardless it’s going to be tough for him to get back to that 6 million form, and he was there for a couple of years, just isn’t anymore.

    • Rob...

      Yeah, as an Oilers fan, I’m glad he’s gone but ticked/sad that he wasn’t able to turn it around. He had some highlight reel performances for the Oilers, but he lost the fire necessary to be an offensive threat night in and night out. His first trip to the big show was the litmus test. If he didn’t get the fire back then, he’ll never have it again for the Oilers. Better he get another chance to find it elsewhere.

  • ScottV

    Too much given too soon to Eberle. Has been playing like an entitled rich guy, trying to soft land into eventual retirement with as little damage to the brain as possible. With the contract expiring soon, it will be interesting to see if he really wants to keep playing.

  • O.C.

    While we are at it and talking about Oscar…
    I saw that Jultz finished 10th overall for the Norris???
    Torrey Krug received a second place vote and was in top 25???
    No K-Bomb or Larsson in top 25.

    Are the Hockey Writers who vote that clueless?

  • jaszby

    Always been a big fan of Eberle. The writing on the wall for me was that playoff game against Anahiem. He was along the boards, saw the hit coming and dumped the puck into the middle of the ice and then Anahiem scored. That was the moment when I didn’t want him on the oilers anymore.
    I wish him all the luck on the island but I’m not sad to see him go.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I’m hoping PC uses the extra cap space for Marleau on a 1-2 year deal in the 4-5 mil range. He’s older but he can still produce and I really like his leadership, plus knowing TMac is a plus as well.

    Having a guy like Marleau could go a long way for Strome, and Nuge. Kind of like what Oates did for Stoll and Horcoff.

  • Jordan88

    Looking at his box cars from Jan 19 onward, after the coaching change, he had 15 points in the final half of the season, while averaging 14 minutes a night. his points per 60 put him ahead of Nugent Hopkins for the season.

    This guy is a player, he might be in the top 6 this season.

  • That's My Point

    “Not nearly as productive” Yes that describes Eberle in NHL PLAYOFFS. Strome 3 goals and 8 pts in 15 playoff games. Eberle 0 goals and 2 pts in 13 playoff games. If the Oilers had Strome they would have made it to the 3rd round against Nashville.

  • OldOilerFan

    We’ve all seen players that are called one dimensional. Back in the day Kent Nilsson was like that. He got challenged though, probably by Messier, and helped deliver as Stanley cup. So sure I liked Eberle’s goal scoring ability, although this year he missed the net constantly. But I hang my hat on the playoffs, as others mentioned he was afraid to get hit. And he got challenged by the Coach to step up, the same Coach that put an “A” on his chest at the start of the year. And the next game he got benched. I would think with a letter on your chest you’re supposed to Lead. So to me he embarrassed the Coach. It wasn’t the fans making him the latest scapegoat, he wrote his own ticket out of here.

    • Joy S. Lee

      If Johnny Gaudreau or Brendan Gallagher were available at 22 this year, would any of the nay-sayers draft him? I know I would. Size is certainly not everything, so it shouldn’t be treated like it is. That said, it’s important in this neck of the woods. Doesn’t mean I avoid a small, talented guy… it just means I want to know how big his heart is before I draft him. If the heart is massive, that’s the key ingredient.

  • TruthHurts98

    Stoked on this trade! Strome was playing much better at the end of last season. Ebs couldn’t produce with Connor, what makes people think Tavares will do the trick?? The Oilers are even bigger now and PC isn’t done. More moves are coming.

    • Rock11

      Has anybody here ever watched Strome play. Everyone here seems to think Strome is Lucic redux. He isnt. Not even close. He’s a soft(ish) skill player without nearly the production of Ebs. I understand the cap savings and yada yada but if all of that money is used to just give raises to guys who were already here(Drai, Russell, Kass etc) then this team is worse than it was last year due to this trade.

      • RJ

        I saw it on an Islanders blog. They’re similar players with similar warts. The biggest difference on one side is that a down year for Eberle produced more goals and points than Strome’s best to date.

        On the other side, Strome is bigger, younger and cheaper.

  • Rock11

    I am consistently and constantly baffled by Oiler fans. Matt Hendricks simply could not play at an NHL basically from the first day he got here. He “buzzed” around the ice looking like he was giving max effort but consistently came up a second or too late to influence the play, provided zero offence, and generally accomplished nothing. He gets a love letter on his way out of town from Chris the Intern meanwhile one of the elite producing RW in hockey is told to not let the door hit him in the ass on the way out of town. At some point this organization and town needs to realize that the way to win is to find and then find a way to keep good players. Constantly trading good players for worse players isnt going to get it done in the long run.

    • Spydyr

      It is because of :

      Effort.
      Giving a crap.
      Taking a hit to make a play.
      Actually hitting an opposing player.
      Standing up for your teammates.
      Never taking a shift off.
      Blocking a shot the busts your can and coming back to play helps too.

      • Rock11

        You know what all those things add up to. Goals. Goals are the only thing that matter in hockey. I dont care if you’re the laziest player in the league and only care about your own numbers if you produce goals. Guys like Hendricks never produce goals and guys like Eberle do. The point of the game is to outscore the other team. Not intimidate them. Not punch them in the face. Not standing around in a scrum acting tough. Some of those things can lead to goals but more often than not it is sound and fury signifying nothing. You think Ryan Getzlaf lost sleep and was thrown off his game cause Matt Hendricks might show up 2 seconds after the puck was gone and throw a “hit” that 95% misses him but sounds good when he smashes into the glass. The mind boggles at how many Oiler fans look at “effort” like that and value it more than controlling the puck and generating shots and scoring chances.

        • Not a First Tier Fan

          You know where some goals from Ebs would have been nice? During the playoff run. I mean, I don’t even remember any particularly good chances he had even. When he did take a shot, it was mostly from outside on the perimeter – and most of those missed the net by a wide margin.

        • Spydyr

          You know what matters just as much as scoring goals? Stopping goals from being scored. Eberle was not very good at that. He cost his team many more goals for then he scored. Don’t believe me look at his plus/minus. Then take into account how many minuses he escaped with his patented Eberle bad line change. Going off after turning the puck over as they play went the other way.

          The team is much better today and they have 3.5 million more to spend.

        • Derian Hatcher

          Ever played the game (or sports at all)? Ever sat on the bench with other teammates that are busting their stones on every shift and watch one of your supposed leaders, wearing an A on their chest, give their usual have a$$ed effort, scared to get hit, giving the puck away, not winning any board battles, then the puck ends up in your own net?

          Where the hell was Eberle in the playoffs? How the hell could he look ANY teammate in the eye after his “I don’t give a crap” playoffs?
          I’m sure he’s a really nice guy and I bet in his own mind he thinks that he is really trying. Addition by subtraction. Hopefully Strome will play with more heart and desire.

    • Not a First Tier Fan

      Nice to hear from Eberle’s Mom. Thanks for writing in, Momma Eberle. Don’t worry – your boy will do fine with the other precious snowflakes on the east coast.

    • Hype? When you consider the players Las Vegas got compared to the cast-offs the 1974-75 Capitals, 1991-92 Sharks and 1992-93 Senators and Lightning got, I find your perspective very underwhelming. Might want to look those teams up.

    • Bagged Almond Milk

      I agree, I honestly think I could have drafted a better team and/or acquired more picks than McPhee did…. As a hockey fan I am dissapointed…. Say if he picked Dumba from minny, could he not have gotten a better return from trading him to someone else than what Minny gave him? For example, Taylor Hall was traded for Larsson…. I love the trade, but that’s the type of return a good D man gets you. Jones got you Johansen. I personally would way rather have Larsson than either Dumba or Jones, but I’m not sure all teams would feel the same…. I feel like some team would have given up a huge return for a young RHD who puts up significant points…. McPhee got Haula (3rd liner) and magic beans. That’s not the only pick I didn’t like, just an example. Also, what in gords name was Florida doing?

  • OilCan2

    Klef is a bargain at his price point. I hope PC pulls a D rabbit out of the hat (college, khl, trade) this summer. I wonder if Vegas stocked up on D for trade reasons?

    Ebs will go down in history as the BEST FIRST NHL GOAL ever. Did we win the trade? Wait and see.

  • Mit167

    The problem with Chia’s deals are that they are close but not quite what gets the nod from the fan base. Hall for Larsson and a 2nd (2017) would have been better received than Hall straight up. Same goes for Ebs. If the trade would have been Ebs for Hamonic or Ebs for DeHaan I think I would have been happy. Ebs for Strome… No. Ebs for for Strome and a 2nd… Yes. Hell even Ebs and a 3rd for Strome and a 2nd and alright… I accept that.

    If its about deconstructing the team in the name of cap space… Okay we’ll follow Chicago and ship out good players to keep our great players… But Chicago did that after they won cups with said good players.

    • Freddie the fog

      Dont u think the ask for more was there? And is ALWAYS there? Bottom line these deals dont happen with a 2nd round also coming our way. In this case Snow said NO. In Halls case Shero said No. Im positive Chia asked for more, we would have right? So dont you think a professional Hockey GM would have also ? Obviously not getting additional assets wasnt going to b a deal breaker for Chia..and im fine with that

  • Leef O'Golin

    I totally agree with your take on Klef. If anything, defencemen should get MORE consideration when you factor in their what their top priority is; stopping chances on net. Sure, the position has evolved over the years, but when you spend most of your time on the ice against the other team’s most dangerous players, 6 PIM is outstanding.

  • GriffCity

    The deal makes a bit of sense, but Oilers still need to make up the loss of production. I would try and sign Vrbata to a short term deal. The old dog can still wire the puck faster than dial up internet.

  • dsanchez1973

    I just wonder why no one ever talks about a guy like Russell and says “if he has a bad game defensively, he brings nothing else to the table”. Because he certainly has bad games defensively. And he certainly brings nothing else. Those “we see the flaws” comment seemingly only applies to certain people.

  • oldTymeOilerfan

    Eberle is talented but he’s past his prime… It’s to be EXPECTED.
    $6M/yr “looks like too much” for him in 2017, but Eberle was a relatively rare commodity when the Oil signed him to the $6M contract. CHIA [if in fact he has majority “say” in player trades/acquisitions] has a history of pursuing a certain type of team composition -perhaps even pursuing specific players of a certain type/size/style- and he’s entitled to do so. Personally, I question [more] whether any good/improving team in the Western Conference “must” get bigger, heavier, tougher, just in order to advance through the playoffs to reach the SC Final: against likely a smaller, faster team from the Eastern Conference. CHIA’s Bruins of 7 or 8 years ago are not a surefire blueprint for success in either Conference in 2018 and beyond.

  • Joy S. Lee

    Something no one can really argue with is whether Jordan Eberle got a fair opportunity to make his mark in Edmonton? In spades. His best year may have been his first, and that was 2010. He had 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and now 2017 to become better, and it didn’t really happen. That is not the fault of the Oilers organization or it’s fans – though experience suggests giving guys the keys to the city and big contracts before they’ve accomplished anything significant is an even bigger mistake. Eight years is enough; Strome is several years younger, and maybe his brothers will consider Edmonton as UFA’s down the road to play with their bro and Connor.