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The Curious Case of Jordan Eberle

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NHL: New York Islanders at Columbus Blue Jackets
Do you see what I see?
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

I began my last article mentioning that Paul Coffey is my favorite Oiler from the Glory Days. I ended the same article mentioning how smart the Pens were to surround a teenage Jaromir Jagr with players like Paul Coffey. Almost immediately after writing that article, Peter Chiarelli hired Paul Coffey to work with the Oilers.

To me, this means Peter Chiarelli is clearly reading my articles and appreciates my insights.

Dear Pete,

I didn’t literally mean we needed Paul Coffey, I was thinking more Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Sincerely,

Your biggest fan,

Czechboy

Pop quiz! What weighs more? 60kgs of feathers OR 60kgs of heavy steel? I’ll answer this later.

There are many things that polarize Oiler’s fans - Ales Hemsky, Taylor Hall, Adam Larson, Matthew Barzal, Laurent Broisoit, Milan Lucic, Paul Coffey and, today’s topic, Jordan Eberle.

Of all the trades that enrage me, this one might be the worst. Not because I’m a huge fan of Eberle. I am a fan but this isn’t David Musil or anything like that. Simply because the trade didn’t have to happen, didn’t get anywhere near the value it should’ve and we still don’t have a Top 6 RW in January to replace him.

I think people don’t realize what Jordan Eberle represents, how valuable he was/is and what he should’ve landed in a trade done properly.

I recently looked up where Jordan Eberle ranks in league scoring since his rookie year.

He is top 30 in scoring since entering the league. Now look at the names around him. Every one of those guys is getting paid very well and all of them are considered high end talent. The only ones you wouldn’t want on your team are set to retire soon.

I further looked to see where he is among Right Winger’s since entering the league. For some reason, NHL.com has Eberle listed as a C so he doesn’t show up.

However, his point total puts him 6th on this list. He is the 6th highest scoring Right Winger in the league since debuting.

You might think I’m harping on past glories. Here is his current season playing on the second line which puts him on pace for 63 points.

Here are his previous seasons playing for the Oilers:

What I hope you notice is that, outside of one 76 point season, Eberle has been putting up a steady 50 to 65 points a season. If his current pace continues, that 63 points will tie for his 4th best season. If I include the lockout shortened season then 5th best (he projected for 63 points that season as well). I hope this helps with the notion that Eberle is playing lights out ‘all of a sudden’. This is his 3rd season going on a 63 point pace with another 65 point season in as well.

I compared his scoring output to Matt Duchene:

They are almost identical points wise (Duchene is .71ppg on his career and Eberle is .75ppg on his career). It should also be pointed out that they have identical contracts of 6 million per season.

The reason I bring up Duchene is because he was disgruntled and needed to be traded. His GM waited for a very long time until the right package came along. Here is what Colorado got for Matt Duchene in 2017:

  • Defenseman prospect Samuel Girard,
  • Nashville’s 2016 second-round pick
  • Forward prospect Vladislav Kamenev,
  • Nashville’s 2014 second-round pick
  • Forward prospect Shane Bowers,
  • Ottawa’s 2017 first-round pick
  • Goaltender Andrew Hammond
  • 2018 first-round pick from Ottawa
  • 2018 second-round pick from Nashville
  • 2019 third-round pick from Ottawa
  • Cap Space

Now here is what we got for Jordan Eberle in 2017:

  • Ryan Strome
  • Cap Space

Peter Chiarelli traded Eberle after a lousy playoff run while rumors of shoulder injuries were swirling in the media. In his entire career, Eberle’s value could not have been lower than this off season. That is exactly when Chia got rid of him.

I’ve heard the arguments. He had to go. He’s soft. His playoff’s were terrible. He’s done and has a bum shoulder. It was best for Jordan Eberle to leave. We got cap space which is invaluable. We’ll be fine as we have RW depth. ‘I’m glad he’s gone, can’t win with a player like that’. Okay, let me address some of these:

  1. He had to go/Best for him/Glad he’s gone

Fine! He had to go. No way we could keep him in Edmonton. Why not hold out and get a really good deal back for him? Not one guy on that Top 30 list or Top 10 RW list would fetch such a low return. Soon, Evander Kane (who has 100 less points than Eberle in a longer career) will fetch more than Eberle as a rental player on an expired contract. Jonathon Drouin is nowhere near Eberle in stats and landed a really good D prospect (also saving cap space). It is entirely reasonable to assume that Ryan Strome gets traded for a 3rd round pick or does not resign in Edmonton. Thus, 1 year later, we turned Eberle into ‘cap space’ or a ‘third round pick and cap space’.

2. He’s soft - back to my question at the start. The feathers and heavy steel weigh the same. I’ll gladly take 60 points from any Oiler not named McDavid and Drai this season (closest guy is Lucic who’s points are much ‘heavier’) whether they be of the soft, pillowy kind or the truculence kind.

3. That playoff run was garbage. Yeah, it totally was. Another great reason not to trade him right after it. He’d played over 500 games for the Oil, just finished the current season third in points on the team and had a lousy 13 games. Judging someone on one playoff run is the kind of logic that got us Fernando Pisani locked in for a 4 year contract or the kind of logic that got Drai overpaid by 2 million per season this off season. Rewarding guys on one playoff run and ignoring regular season stats is shortsighted at best. No one should be surprised that Eberle is on a 50 to 65 point pace again.

4. That Shoulder injury/He’s done - When you put ‘Jordan Eberle shoulder injury’ into Google, the only stuff that comes up is 2015. Also, I’ve seen him score some beauties this year for the Isles and I gotta tell you, shoulder looks fine.

5. He wouldn’t have these totals for the Oilers this season - We will never know and that is a big problem. Even if Chia felt that way, he needed to replace him with someone who could get those totals. Also, I have 500 games of evidence above to suggest he’d be on pace for 50 to 65 points. I also have his current season and last season to suggest the same.

6. Cap Space/RW Depth - We have almost nothing resembling Top 6 RW depth on this team. Jesse might be one day. Cammalleri was once upon a time. Drake/Anton/Kailer currently are not there. If we had traded Eberle and then used the cap space to get someone I feel that a: I wouldn’t be writing this article and b: we wouldn’t be this terrible.

For instance, we traded Hall and signed Lucic. I hate that swap but I can at least see some logic in it.

We got rid of our third leading scorer and never replaced him. Coincidentally, I don’t think Eberle was meant to be our top line scorer. He’s providing beautiful secondary scoring for the Isle’s and that is a role he is elite at. 50 to 60 extra points couldn’t have hurt our cause this season.

This all circles back to Chia and asset management. I still don’t see what his plan was with this trade or how it made us closer to winning the Stanley Cup. All I see is a classic Oiler tradition of selling low on good assets (Petry, Hemsky, Cogliano, Eberle, Hall, Schultz) that could help build us into a cup contender (either by playing for us or being traded for better parts).