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Right Wing Contingency Plan

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If Jordan Eberle gets moved, someone’s going to have to find their way into the top six. Start thinking about that now.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames
Patrick Eaves might work out on a short term deal
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Trade talks have surrounded Oilers winger Jordan Eberle for some time now. Local media is doing their best to soften the blow of what could be an underwhelming return. The Oilers will likely be shedding salary and will almost certainly not be getting a top six forward in return if and when Jordan Eberle is moved.

So where does that leave the Oilers? It means one of Jesse Puljujarvi, Drake Caggiula or Zack Kassian will likely be playing top six minutes. Ideally, you’d like Puljujarvi to be there, but the whole ‘throw him in, see if he swims’ idea has been proven not to work in seasons past. Remember when the club was going to move Taylor Hall to centre? Yeah.

If the Oilers are to move Jordan Eberle, they need to have a contingency plan if the Puljujuarvi-Caggiula plan doesn’t work out.

A short list of potential stop gaps:

Patrick Eaves

Eaves finished with 32 goals between two teams (Dallas, Anaheim) this year en route to a 51 point season. Eaves had 209 shots on the season and a S% of 15.9, which is high. He’s got a 2016-17 bargain basement price cap hit of 1 million, and while he’ll be due a raise in 2017-18, he’d be an excellent short term deal to chase if Jordan Eberle is dealt for peanuts.

Radim Vrbata

Vrbata’s 2016-17 deal was a 1 million base with several performance bonuses. He did well for himself. He got a performance bonus if he hit 30 games (which he did), and he got another bonus if he hit 20 goals (he did). Radim Vrbata led the Coyotes in scoring with 55 points, and at age 36 would be a decent risk signing for a year if the cap hit was right around 3.

Justin Williams

35-year old Justin Williams is coming off a 24 goal, 48 point season in Washington. It’s the second straight season for Williams that saw him score 20+ goals since he last did it with the Los Angeles Kings back in 2010-12. Williams would also be a good risk for a year, though his cap hit was 3.25MM in Washington this year. With the Oilers looking to shed salary through an Eberle deal, I’ve the feeling a Williams deal might be too rich for Edmonton’s blood.

If the Oilers move Jordan Eberle, they’re not likely to receive a player (or players) that come near to Eberle’s 6MM cap hit. If Puljujarvi or (and?) Caggiula are ready to jump into the top six, that’s great. The Oilers aren’t exactly stacked on the right side, and having a 40-50 point scorer on the cheap can only help the team over the course of the season.