After the victory over the Sharks and the Coyotes loss, the Anaheim Ducks are back in the playoff picture. Of course, their position is nowhere near safe. The team must continue to build off their recent success and begin to separate themselves from the teams on the outside looking in.
Although Anaheim looks like a completely different team compared to the disappointment-on-ice everyone was witnessing at the start of the season, many people feel that there is still room for improvement. For this reason, the Ducks have been one of the most popular teams involved in trade speculation. With the trade deadline approaching quickly, General Manager Bob Murray will need to act fast if he truly feels his team is still a missing piece away from contending for the Stanley Cup this spring.
Luckily for Murray, there are plenty of deals out there waiting to be made. However, the Ducks may not have to look any further than their own division for the perfect addition to their roster. Plenty of rumors have circulated around the Edmonton Oilers looking to shop Jordan Eberle for some much-needed help on the blue-line. If Anaheim would be willing to offer Sami Vatanen, the Ducks could acquire a player who would improve their offensive efforts on a nightly basis.
However, the question must still be asked. Would Vatanen for Eberle be a deal worth making for the Anaheim Ducks?
Anaheim has definitely started scoring more goals as of late but they still find themselves at the bottom of the league in average goals per game. It is no secret that if Murray makes any deal before the deadline, it is going to be for offense. Eberle would no doubt provide the assistance the Ducks are looking for. In 38 games with the Oilers this season, he has contributed twelve goals and twelve assists. In five-and-a-half seasons with Edmonton, the 25-year-old forward has recorded 132 and 176 assists.
The numbers may not jump out you but Eberle would have the second highest amount of goals on the roster if traded to Anaheim. Acquiring Eberle would give Bruce Boudreau another valuable asset he could count on to produce at a consistent level for his team. In addition, Eberle would become another player on the ice for the Ducks that the opposition must know where he is at all times.
Although Vatanen has had an impressive season with Anaheim thus far, he is an expendable asset. The Ducks have a surplus of NHL-caliber defenders and, unfortunately, cannot dress all of them. The 24-year-old blueliner will become a restricted free-agent this summer and his future with Anaheim is uncertain. It could be in Murray’s interest to gain something in return for Vatanen and free up a little space on defense in the process.
When it comes to discussing what could prevent the Ducks from making with Edmonton, it is all about the Benjamins! Eberle is on contract for $6M annually until 2019. Anaheim is already shelling out a lot of money to players such as Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler. It could put the Ducks in quite a financial debacle if they decided to pay another person a large amount of money for an extended period of time. Anaheim needs to focus on signing some of their more valuable RFA’s this summer and need to have the funds necessary to do so.
As I mentioned earlier, the Ducks have plenty of defensemen and could afford to trade away Vatanen. However, it may not prove to be in the team’s best interest to do so. Depth is also a desired commodity for any position on a team looking to make the postseason. Injuries are always a possibility and could cripple a team not equipped with capable replacements. Murray and the Ducks might feel that it would be more appropriate to wait, and deal Vatanen before draft instead of at the deadline.
What To Do? What To Do?
I truly feel that a trade involving Eberle going to Anaheim for Vatanen would prove to benefit both parties involved. The deal might have to include some other small pieces but it would be nothing to sway the trade in the favor of one side or the other. However, Eberle’s contract would be too much of a burden for the Ducks to take on at this point. Dedicating so much money to only a few players rarely turns out good for a franchise. Unless Anaheim could find a way to send another player taking up some cap-space, such as Jakob Silferberg, I cannot see them making a deal with Edmonton for Jordan Eberle.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.