I never want to be an Oilers apologist, and I know they got lucky as can imaginably be when they won the lottery last spring….but can the Oilers get a freaking bounce?! Top 2 centres and 2 top 4 D-men are out. Pucks are finding every fluky way imaginable to get in their net. Guys are taking pucks off their nuts. I get that winning the right to draft McDavid was insane, but the Oilers have had boat loads of injuries and boat loads of piss poor luck for 10 seasons now!
So last night was the breaking point for me. Been talking about it with buddies lately and we all seem to agree. If you listen to Peter Chiarelli in interviews discuss what kind of team he wants to build in Edmonton, it is just so very clear to me that Jordan Eberle is as good as gone. And I don’t believe this will be a case where he’ll be shipped out for a defenceman. I think he’s gone for the best offer, because he has never developed his game.
He has ELITE hands. It is insane how great his hands are. But what else does he do? Awful in his own zone, awful on the wall and in the corners, hates going into traffic, he’s not at all physical, the next time he strips someone of the puck will be the first time, he can’t carry a line offensively, what is the freaking point of keeping the guy? He is completely useless. Sure, he can score when he plays with good linemates. Congrats, the New Jersey Devils got Lee Stempniak off the scrap heap this fall. They’re the exact same guy, only Eberle is getting 6 million a year and Stempniak is getting 850k. Actually that’s a lie, Stempniak isn’t terrified of traffic.
Am I pissed? Yes I am, because I like the kid. He grew up an Oiler fan. On draft day all the kids have big smiles on their faces, but Eberle just seemed to be a different level of giddy than most kids are. This is the full clip of him being drafted in 08, but his interview begins at the 5:40 mark.
The innocent kid that day has seemingly turned into a guy who couldn’t give a damn about anything except scoring a highlight reel goal. Something I notice with Eberle is if he gets the puck in a good scoring position, he quite often looks to make another move rather than take the shot. The kid has all the confidence in the world in his shot, so don’t tell me he’s just looking to get into a better position. This guy is worried about having the highlight of the night, not winning.
You won’t hear much of this about Eberle because people like him. Just as people liked Sam Gagner. Eberle was the World Junior hero, twice. In victory one year, in defeat the next. But you have to be honest about it, and Eberle has had 4 years now to take that next step. He had a terrific 76 point season in 2012, but his game has never expanded, and he hasn’t matched that output.
I’m guessing that what will happen is that he will play with Connor McDavid the rest of the season. It’s only smart, put Eberle with McDavid and run his numbers up. And he will produce with McDavid. I won’t be surprised to see Eberle get 19 goals in the final 32 games should he and McDavid stay healthy. Sounds great doesn’t it, why move a guy who puts up those kind of numbers with McDavid hey? Because everyone will.
Yakupov looked terrific with McDavid, and Yakupov has been horrible without him. So why not trade Yakupov? Because Yakupov shows a willingness to play the type of game Chiarelli wants to play. Yakupov is on a good contract for another year. And Yakupov won’t bring in what Eberle will. This isn’t to say I believe Yakupov will be with the Oilers next year either, but I’m focusing on Eberle today. Eberle’s skill will still entice another GM to say “I can change him”.
A D-man would be nice to get for him, but a team isn’t going to give up a high end D-man for the guy. Maybe you package him with Griffen Reinhart? That would no doubt get a good return, but I still doubt it would net them the D-man they need.
But as I said off the top, I don’t think that’ll stop Peter Chiarelli from moving him and just getting the best return he can get. If he can get a 1st round pick at the deadline for him, I believe he’ll do the deal. It would be criticized, but that 1st round pick would be pretty damn valuable trade chip come June. Eberle is just everything Chiarelli doesn’t want this team to be. He’s everything that’s been wrong with the Oilers the last 6 seasons. Too small, not good enough wheels, and unwilling to play anything but a 1 dimensional game.
With the 6 mil cap hit off the books, Milan Lucic, Andrew Ladd, David Backes, Loui Eriksson, Radim Vrbata, Jiri Hudler, David Perron, Mikkel Boedker, Kyle Okposo. All are UFA’s, all are better options for the Oilers than Eberle. Maybe a guy like Vrbata will make you say no. But Vrbata won’t be 6 million per, and he’s a better skater.
It reminds me a lot of the Phil Kessel situation. The Leafs haven’t been any worse without Kessel, and the Pens haven’t been any better with him. A 1 dimensional player just doesn’t have any impact on a team. Remember when Peter Chiarelli had 1 dimensional Phil Kessel? His ass was gone in a hurry.
I could easily be wrong about this. Won’t be the first time and it won’t be the last. But I just can’t see a scenario where Jordan Eberle is in an Oilers uniform next season. With the player he’s become, they’ll be better off.
Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups