Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Upgrading the Edmonton Oilers: Evaluating Guentzel and Eberle as trade targets
15 days ago
It seems increasingly likely that the Edmonton Oilers will make an upgrade at the deadline.
However, the big question is what will they upgrade. In our Meet the Sellers series, we look at Edmonton’s needs, as well as players from a certain team that can fit those needs. One such need is a scoring winger, and Edmonton has been linked to two by TSN’s Chris Johnston for quite some time.
On February 1, Johnston and Pierre LeBrun discussed moves that could be made in the near future, with Johnston mentioning that he believes the Oilers are looking to add an impact forward after the market develops. Johnston listed Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel and Seattle’s Jordan Eberle as pending unrestricted free agents whom the Oilers could go for.
It’s not the first time Johnston has connected Edmonton to those players, as he mentioned Guentzel, Eberle, and another former Oiler in David Perron as potential targets on his own show in late January. In late December, he and LeBrun played matchmaker, where Johnston once again said that Guentzel would be a great fit for the Oilers.
So what makes Guentzel so intriguing? This season, the 29-year-old left-winger has 22 goals and 49 points and is on pace for 39 goals and 87 points, with the latter being a career-high and the former falling one goal short of matching his career-high.
This is to say that Guentzel is an elite scorer, hitting the 40-goal plateau twice, along with a 30-goal season and plenty of 20-goal seasons, falling just short in his rookie year, where he had 16 goals in 40 games. That season, he also scored 13 goals in 25 playoff games to help win the Pittsburgh Penguins their second straight Stanley Cup.
As of the afternoon of February 6, the Penguins have 51 points in 46 games played. They are seven points from the Detroit Red Wings but have three games in hand. By the same token, they are tied with the New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals, two teams that could conceivably push for a spot as well.
So, it may make sense for the Penguins to trade the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent, as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin may not be around for much longer. Signing Guentzel to a long-term deal could impact the team when they head into their eventual rebuild when Crosby and Malkin retire.
Speaking of a rebuild, the Penguins just don’t have a good farm system at the moment. The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler ranked the Penguins to have the 27th-best farm system in the league or the sixth-worst farm system, depending on if you’re a glass-half-full/empty type of individual.
It may make sense for the Penguins to re-tool at this year’s deadline, get a few draft picks and prospects, and try again next season. Letting Guentzel walk to attempt to push for a playoff spot may impact the team’s long-term outlook.
According to Puckpedia, Guentzel has a cap hit of $6 million this season and will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Moreover, the Omaha, Nebraska native has a 12-team no-trade clause, and it’s unknown whether or not he has Edmonton as one of those 12 teams.
The Penguins would surely like to re-sign him, and there have been conflicting reports as of late on his situation. According to Nick Kypreos, Guentzel rejected a six-year, $8.5 million deal. However, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period said that’s false, and there haven’t been “any ongoing contract talks” at this point.
May 7, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Kraken forward Jordan Eberle (7) celebrates after scoring a goal during the second period against the Dallas Stars in game three of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
How about Jordan Eberle?
If the Oilers look to improve offensively, Jake Guentzel is their man, as he’s played with elite talent before, has scored at a point-per-game pace in the playoffs, has a ring, and is just the best option available. However, a reunion with former Oiler Jordan Eberle would be a nice homecoming.
This season, Eberle has nine goals and 28 points in 46 games with the Seattle Kraken. The 2022-23 season, in terms of points, was his best since 23014-15, as he scored 20 goals and 63 points to match the last non-Connor McDavid Oiler team.
Despite the rough first playoff run with the Oilers where he had just two assists in 13 games, Eberle has significant playoff experience under his belt now. In 63 playoff games with other teams, Eberrle has 19 goals and 45 points, proving that he is actually a playoff performer and the Oilers made a terrible mistake in trading him. Yes, I’m pontificating about how angry I was with that trade and the subsequent trade tree.
Anyway, Eberle had been heating up heading into the All-Star break, scoring five of his nine goals in the last nine games played, as well as five assists for 10 points.
Like Guentzel, Eberle will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and has a cap hit of $5.5 million. Unlike Guentzel, Eberle doesn’t have a modified no-trade clause or any other clause of the sort, meaning he doesn’t have much leverage in where Seattle trades him.
It’s worth noting that Seattle is in the hunt for a wild card position. They have a 21-19-10 record with 52 points, just two points out of a playoff spot while playing an extra game. They’d only have to jump two teams and have a game in hand on the Nashville Predators, who are also tied with the St. Louis Blues.
Edmonton has a chance to match the 1992-93 record for the longest win streak in history on Tuesday evening. Interestingly, it’s held by the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re in no rush to make moves and will allow things to play out.
The trade deadline is still over a month away, so there’s still plenty of time for Pittsburgh or Seattle to fall out of the race. Heck, maybe even Detroit loses their grasp on the final Wild Card and decides to sell, opening a reunion with David Perron (although Daniel Sprong is the ideal player to target).
It’ll be interesting to see what happens!
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