Exposing Jordan Eberle in the Expansion Draft


Should Jordan Eberle be exposed to Las Vegas in this summer’s expansion draft?

I suppose crazier things have happened but this idea, which seems to be gaining currency among segments of the Oilers fanbase, strikes me as an awful use of resources.

Basically it comes down to this: Eberle has real value, and losing him for nothing would be a waste of that value.

Over the last three seasons, Eberle ranks 47th among NHL forwards by total points with 142. That total ties him with Brandon Saad and puts him one back of Matt Duchene, a player teams will be lining up to acquire if the Avs are foolish enough to trade him. He falls to 61st by points-per-game, a total which puts him just back of Duchene and just ahead of Saad.

Over the last three seasons, Eberle also ranks 93rd among NHL forwards by 5-on-5 points/hour, with 1.79. That number has been dragged down by a lousy 2016-17, but even so ties him with Logan Couture and puts him just ahead of Nathan MacKinnon.

As there are 90 first-line forwards in the NHL, it’s fair to say that Eberle is at least in the mix by scoring totals.

Nor is he a total dunce in other areas of the game. His defensive gaffes get a lot of attention in Edmonton, and while they deserve to be noted there’s a real element of missing the forest for the trees here. Even away from Connor McDavid, Eberle’s lines have been in the black by both shot differential and goals for/against, and that isn’t playing butter-soft minutes.

This is a quality offensive right wing who can be part of a non-McDavid line that can be trusted to out-shoot and out-score the opposition without being sheltered. A bad half-season doesn’t change that.

It’s also important to put that bad half-season into context. Eberle’s presently on an 82-game pace of 50 points, which really isn’t bad. This also happens to be the worst season of his career. He’s a better player than this, and even now he’s still a pretty decent player.


He is also a player the Oilers might have some trouble replacing. It’s not always easy to simply conjure up an offensively gifted forward in the prime of his career. Looking at free agency, the only right-shooting forward under the age of 30 with similar numbers to Eberle this season is Sam Gagner, who was only able to board his plane leaving Edmonton the last time because GM Craig MacTavish confused the angry mob chasing him by throwing Teddy Purcell at them and shouting “6’2”, 6’2” over and over.  

Other options in free agency include Alexander Radulov (31 in July, already making $5.75 million) and the usual laundry list of cheap bandaids (Kris Versteeg, P-A Parenteau, Radim Vrbata) that the Oilers either passed on or drove away this summer.

There’s always a trade, of course. The problem with dumping Eberle for nothing and then trading something to replace him is that it obviously is going to be a drain on the organization’s resources.

As a rule, I’m a believer in trading players when everything is going right for them. In the summer of 2012, I was one of the leading proponents behind the idea of trading Eberle because his 34-goal, 76-point season seemed an obvious high-water mark and it should have been possible to cash-in on that temporary spike in value.

By the same token, if Eberle’s value has really fallen so far as to consider giving him away for free, it’s obviously the worstp ossible time to move him out of town.

I’m not convinced that Eberle’s value has taken such a tumble, though it’s obviously difficult to move a $6.0 million contract in-season. The speculation this morning that there isn’t much market for him in the present makes sense, but doesn’t mean the same will be true in the summer, or that Edmonton couldn’t make something work if they were willing to be flexible financially. Assuming Eberle still has some value, the idea of trading him isn’t out to lunch.

That’s the key, though. An Eberle trade for fair value the other way wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest and would be entirely defensible. Dumping Eberle for absolutely nothing during what is obviously a temporary downturn? That would be a mistake.


  • OilersGM

    Jonathan Willis why would you write this article if you think it’s a awful use of resources. Which I agree with your sentiment but I would never write about it because it would never happen.

    Only media like thinks this and writes an article about. No GM is dumb enough to do that.

  • toprightcorner

    Sorry to say, but it is likley Nuge gets traded before Eberle. Not becasue Eberle is a better player, but they will want to have Draisaitl as the 2nd line center and $6 mill that Nuge makes is way too expensive for a 3rd line center. $3.5 to $4 mill is the most you want to pay for that position, so that is where I see a trade being made.

    Both Nuge and Eberle still have value but it would be a mistake to trade either of them this season. Possible in the summer, but it is more likley after next season when McDavid is gonna get paid.

    A possibility is a trade with ANA for Eberle for Lindholm or Vatanen. ANA has 4 dmen they will need to protect and they do not have quality wingers. ANA trading a dman for a winger gives them a more balanced lineup, especially if they only have to protect 3 dmen instead of 4, allowing them to protect an additional player overall.

  • Ready to Win

    If the Oilers wanted to be rid of Eberle and if they were wanting to minimize other losses in the expansion draft wouldn’t the smarter thing to do be make a deal with Vegas rather than just leave Eberle exposed?

    Maybe they could forgo the expansion pick and send the Oilers a first round pick.

  • MillHoodsHockey4Life

    Hypothetically- is it possible to trade a Vegas pick for the Oilers to let Ebs be unprotected?

    I know there are some sketchy rules relating to trades and the expansion draft but this would allow the Oilers to keep Ebs for the playoffs and cap flexibility in 2017-18 while Vegas gets a scoring winger that gets them closer to the cap floor but can also be used as a trade chip as they construct their roster.

  • Spydyr

    Ask yourself this:

    Would the team be better letting Eberle go then using his six million to sign Oshie.

    Or would it be better to let Davidson go and have Eberle over Oshie?

    Oshie and Davidson or Eberle.

    I know there is no guarantee they can sign Oshie this is just hypothetical.

    • McDavid's Comet

      Yes, it would be better to have Davidson AND Oshie over Eberle, however Oshie is not a guarantee. Wouldn’t it be better if we went with Eberle for the playoffs (possibly upping his value in the process) and trade him to LV at the expansion draft, get some asset(s) for him and then try and sign Oshie at free agency providing he isn’t signed with NY by then. Remember we won’t be the only team vining for his services.

      I understand your positioning on Ebs but, it would be better to TRY and up his value before trading him for a “bag of pucks” or letting him go for nothing in return, and no I’m not a fan boy. I’m just not a fan of giving away assets for nothing; no matter how much value they have.

      Here’s a hypothetical for you: trade Ebs to LV for the guarantee that they take Pouliot in the exp. draft? That will free up 10+mill in cap space.

    • Hemmercules

      I wish you could GM a team. Love to see how it turns out.

      I think having Oshie and Davidson would be great. But exposing Eberle and losing him for nothing, while throwing a coin into a wishing well on Oshie signing as a free agent a month later is just bad business.

      Honestly, I’m not so sure Davidson will be the guaranteed pick in the expansion anyway. I like Davidson but he’s not blowing anyone away right now.

    • I am Batman

      I hate Eberle. (Yeah call me hater I don’t care) but it’s not like I think Oshie is that amazing.

      As for Davidson, meh. And you can’t protect him neither cause he is a D, if you protect him you have to expose more players.

      You expose them both, see how stupid Vegas are

  • S cottV

    For me – it’s more the lack of fit for the new PC vision for the club. A vision that I certainly support.

    A vision that makes it difficult to keep a player like Eberle. He is not a hard player to play against.

    That said – I would certainly prefer to get something for him.

    I think your critique is overly generous.

    Had this argument discussion the other day over Toews vs Malkin.

    Basing something on mostly points can be misleading. Other factors to consider.

    Such as – this is the first year that Eberle has played in a tight – expect to win environment, which means way more emphasis on making sure if any pucks go in a net – its the right one. This puts a significant crimp on being loose with risk vs reward, toward generating offence.

    Also – teams take us seriously now. Number one goalies, tight checking and an opposition A game.

    All things considered – and I wouldn’t bet on any kind of significant resurgence.

    • SSB1963

      Disagree. You can’t have a whole team of Lucic’s and Maroon’s neither of which are great skaters. Spent a good portion of my life coaching young kids and Eberle isn’t as bad as some of the posters think. He is just not their type of player.

  • Heschultzhescores

    I don’t like the lack of desire in Eberle’s eyes either, but you can’t just give him away. I’m sure teams would still be interested in him for his potential. If he ever wanted to play again, he could still be a great asset. I’m not sure what happened to him, or if the game just got too big and fast for him. I remember a reckless Eberle the first year or two (with highlight reel goals), now he seems afraid of getting hurt or committing himself to anything that might involve body contact. 6 million a year can make some guys soft. He may be thinking more of retirement health than winning cups and sacrificing the body to do it. That’s just my opinion.

  • I am Batman

    Expose the lazy bastard. No brainer.

    I bet dollars to doughnuts Vegas takes somebody else. They aren’t going to eat a 6 million salary on an “offensive ” player with no offence.

    Sure, if we can get a 3rd rounder let’s trade him but the difference between a 3rd rounder and just straight up losing him is minimum

  • Big Jacks Meat

    Eberle – Lets tale a look at the Jamie Benns, Joe Thorton , Kopitar, and on and on , Joe last I heard hasn’t scored with a goalie in the net yet.
    Kopitar , almighty Kopitar..hmmm not that impressive. Cut Eberle some slack , granted he is one dimensional and offers little else but look at other elite players. Sh-t happens.

    • I am Batman

      Benn, Kopitar, Thornton on the same sentence.


      Well at least it’s not Patrick Kane the comparable anymore!

      Can’t wait for lazy Ebs to be out of town.

  • Bucknuck

    People have been trying to get rid of Eberle since they drafted Yakupov. I can’t understand it. He’s an offensive weapon and he’s having a bit of an off year but the guy has skills.

    If you can trade him for another lunch-pail hero just say no. If you can get value then great. Giving him up for nothing? Give me a break.

    Eberle is a first line sniper. You keep those players. Especially when you have a team full of dishers like McDavid, Draisaitl and RNH.

    • @Hallsy4

      A first line sniper who can’t snipe with his new stick. Like a sniper using a water pistol. The writing is on the wall Ebs, sometimes a skills coach does more harm than good. EBS, Use the stick that got you here brother, listen carefully to these words boy.

      Eberle did not need a skills coach, his old skills were what made him a good player, before he changed them. It wasn’t his defensive awareness or size or the like that got him to a former 1st line NHLer.

      Go back to your old stick, and forget whatever your skills coach said. Next, hire Gary Roberts or Leon’s Dad to get you in shape. Listen carefully to what I say boy, your’e flushing a lot of god given talent down the drain.

    • Sir Dudeinstein

      “Eberle is a first line sniper”

      How many times have eberle wrist a shot to go for a top corner, only for the puck to ring around the boards and out.
      I counted three times yesterday vs Nashville. Sure one goal in 30 attempts of that will look pretty, but he is kind of a cyclebreaker

        • Hemmercules

          Spyder doesn’t live in the past. He’s all about now. Right now, Eberle is not a first line player, and not a sniper.

          I like Eberle, but the theory that he can’t hold his own now that teams actually play hard against the Oiler feels like it holds some weight. I keep expecting him to start sniping those top corners one of these days but its seems like more and more little dish passes and getting out muscled in the offensive zone. Good player but not a Chia player.

          The whole thing lies on a replacement. As far as I’m concerend, they are stuck with him until something better on RW comes along.

          • Spydyr

            Exactly Eberle was given every chance to perform with the NHL leading scorer, one of the top players in the NHL and Eberle failed so miserably he was demoted to the third line. In his defence he was worked his way up but that might have more to do with no other options being available on right wing.

          • Hemmercules

            If I’m Chia. I hold on to Eberle until free agency this summer. If a solid RW or C that can play wing is available for less than 6 mil then sign him up. Teams that miss on free agency might bite a little harder at that time and if not, trade him for picks or whatever you can get if getting his cap off the books is all they are worried about.

          • Spydyr

            I’m pretty sure Eberle will not be an Oiler come next fall. He just has not performed nor does he fit into the type of team Chia is building here. Don’t you think Chia offered Eberle before Hall in the Larsson deal?

          • That 3 or 4 game stretch where he was engaged was good to see, unfortunately did not last again. And will continue to do so. If you cannot elevate your game with one the best players on the planet, knowing you are heading to the playoffs for the first time, I doubt there is anything else that could possibly get him motivated. I personally thought he finally had a good centre and had him booked for 30-40 goals this season, so occasionally I guess I drink the Kool Aid too.

          • Not a First Tier Fan

            I would say it’s the quantity… Everyone knows how you feel but you spend time every article trying to shout down those who disagree with you.

      • Bucknuck

        I think you are confusing the words “sniper” and “elite”. A player who averages better than one goal every three games is a sniper in today’s NHL.

        A guy who has the ability to snap a shot like Eberle does is a sniper. There aren’t many players in the NHL who average 25 goals or more a season as reliably as he has.

  • @Hallsy4

    To me, Chia’s biggest downfall is he’s too loyal to the players he signed or acquired. Drake should be the 13th forward or in the AHL, Griffin should be traded for magic beans, and Benning should likely also be in the AHL. Benning and Drake were great signings, but I don’t think they’ve proven enough to be regular NHLers just yet.

    • OriginalPouzar

      1) what is the point in trading Griff for a “magic bean”? How about the organization continues to let this player, currently on his ELC develop. Apparently, he’s playing the best hockey of his pro career right now.

      2) Matt Benning absolutely deserves to be in the lineup every day right now. That is based on his play – both on the eye test and the advanced stats. Which RH d-man in the organization should be playing over him?

  • @Hallsy4

    Eberle has got to go, sooner rather than later. I wouldn’t expose him unless Chia has a Lucic type agreement with Oshie and signs him the next day. However, I’d be more than open to a trade. I think the entire 2nd line will be gone in a year or two, the only possible exception being the Nuge

  • tkfisher

    Thank god, a voice of reason in Oilersnation to quell the pitch forks.

    Eberle is not a perfect player (never has been and never will be), there are a number of things he does not bring, and it hasn’t been a good year. But, he brings value for what he does (when he’s playing well), and overall he helps more than what you’re going to bring in via trade or get through the UFA market. Giving up that value in the middle of the darkest period for nothing is what terrible organizations do.

    Switch him back to his old stick length or bring on someone (Adam Oates) to work with him for that. He tinkered with his stick and his shot over the summer and it’s turning out to be a terrible decision. His confidence is in the ditch and now is not the time to overreact. This dip will not last.

  • McDavid's Comet

    Leaving Eberle unprotected is about as smart as signing an offer sheet to a player that has to clear waivers first before joining the team.

    Eberle is in the prime yrs. of his career; I’m hopeful Charelli holds on to him for the playoffs and see if he can be the clutch player that he has been in the past. There is no way he is left exposed to the expansion draft.

  • Valar Morghulis

    It would be ridiculous to expose him, but there doesn’t seem to be a trade market for him either.

    With two years remaining, how long do you hang on to him for?

    Do you ditch him in the final year of that anyway?

    Do you resign him for the same?

    Do you expect him to resign for less?

  • Hemmercules

    If Eberle made less money the haters would be far less abundant. His lack of offence is just fuelling the fire this year. I have to a agree with them though, if he’s taking up that much cap space his production isnt nearly enough right now. Tough situation, ditching him for nothing is a bad way to go but trading him wont be easy either. I think you have to hang on to him until either: a decent deal comes along, another RW became available somehow (UFA, emerging prospect, etc.) or he has to be moved to clear cap for others. None of those appear to be happening at this point.

    • SSB1963

      Compare him to Johnny Hockey and tell me his production isn’t enough? And I might tell you that more is expected out of JG but nobody is calling for his head down here!

  • OriginalPouzar

    Agreed – its an absolutely ludicrous idea and there is next to zero chance of it happening.

    As stated, Jordan is having his worst ever offensive season and he is still tied for 19th in the NHL among RWs in points.

    Even in his worst offensive season he is still a bona fide 1st line winger.

    Given his age, its highly improbable that he is now regressing for the rest of his career and his numbers will revert to historical norms.

    Sure, Jordan may not be in the medium or long term plans, however, the need to trade him for value in the future does not equate to giving him away for free.

  • Namudi

    Claim Mike Ribeiro.

    3rd line centre left shot, 25 points in 46 games this season.
    Pretty good at face offs.
    3.5 million last year of contract

    Cheers for yes
    Trash for no.


    • SSB1963

      Ebs and RNH haters like the bang and crash game. You can have those players because basically move of them have little to no puck sense or skill. The cold hard facts are that Eberle and RNH are not bangers in that sense. They are just to small to play that game.

    • Jay (not J)

      I don’t hate the guy (I find the personal investment some people here have in seeing him gone a little bit creepy) but I don’t pretend he’s worth what he’s getting paid and I don’t see how leaving him unprotected is ludicrous. First off, I doubt he would be taken. MacPhee’s no phool. Even if he is there will be free agents available and there will be young hopefuls looking to fill that spot. Sure letting him go for nothing looks like it would suck, but someone’s going for nothing so why not a guy who’s worth less than he’s getting paid versus someone who is fitting into the McDavid/ Drai centric cost structure that this team will have? I wouldn’t like to see him jettisoned at the deadline, I’d like to see him play for the Oilers in the playoffs but after that the team needs to be gearing for its future and that doesn’t include carrying expensive underachievers.

    • Spydyr

      Actually I suggested leaving Eberle unprotected a while back. If it is a choice between Davidson leaving and Eberle with his six million dollar cap hit. I choose Davidson staying. I’m sure Chia would try to trade Eberle before leaving him unprotected though.

      • Valar Morghulis

        The biggest question is whether Eberle is in the long term plans. That answer to me is no.

        So I have a question for anyone who trashed trainwreck’s comment:

        Would you pay half of Eberle’s salary to play somewhere else instead of letting him go for free?

        I’m not exactly supporting that idea mind you, but if he’s going to be inevitably shipped out, is the free option or having to pay salary option a better idea?

        This team has drastically changed over the past two years and I fully expect the same rate of change over the next two.

      • tkfisher

        So by your logic the better play would be to dump Eberle’s contract and what, pick up another UFA like Lucic? How is that going to work out in year 5-8 when that player is 32-36? I worry enough about the Lucic contract, let alone the idea of adding another one to the stable.

        • I was thinking the valuable cap space we need for McDavid & Leon is more valuable than what Eberle brings to the team. In a year or two we will have to adopt the Blackhawks model, and that does not allow for overpaid players who contribute nothing when they are not scoring. As for Looch, less than impressed so far, but I think he will show up big time in the playoffs(TBD), but I am sure Ebs will disappear when the going gets tough.