One would think after leading the Edmonton Oilers in scoring for three of the last five seasons that Jordan Eberle would have bought himself a little bit of rope, but apparently that is not the case. Since making his season debut on November 2nd against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the silky smooth sniper has struggled mightily to find his game. Combine that with the Oilers inability to move up the Western Conference standings and suddenly all that anyone wants to talk about is trading one or both of Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
2 shootout goals and a OT goal. Anyone still wanna trade Eberle? #Oilers
— Jason Burns (@jfburns1972) December 5, 2015
Despite the aforementioned duo being among Edmonton’s best players over the last number seasons, along with the underappreciated Taylor Hall, it seemed as though none of that matter. Who cares about the fact Eberle had scored 119 goals and chipped in with 164 assists in 355 career games heading into 2015-16. Apparently having been held off the scoresheet for six straight games heading into last night’s showdown with the Dallas Stars overrode all that. After all, when a guy is as “soft” as the Regina native, what else could possibly matter.
Can you say embarrassing? How soon people forget. Shameful…absolutely shameful.
Eberle Is Pure Magic In the Shootout
After putting together what truly was a god awful performance during the Oilers most recent five-game road trip, it looks as though the 22nd overall pick of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft may have finally started to turn the corner. Despite his recent struggles, Eberle had scored a pair of shootout beauties in two of Edmonton’s previous three games but had yet to leave his mark during an actual game for some time. That all changed against the Stars and it was an absolute godsend for both the club and player.
[Related Article: Trading Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Is Not the Answer]
Be it the endless trade rumours, an unwillingness to sit back and accept his current lot in life or just a matter of bounces starting to go his way but the former Regina Pats star has looked like a different player since the team opened their five-game home stand on Wednesday evening against the Boston Bruins. While he was unable to get a puck in behind Tuukka Rask prior to the shootout, for the first time in what felt like an eternity, the 25-year old had numerous golden opportunities and was quite noticeable for much of the night.
That trend continued to a certain degree against Dallas, as the Lindy Ruff’s crew skated circles around the Oilers for three consecutive periods but could only manage one goal against the red-hot Anders Nilsson. While the towering Swede essentially stole two points for his teammates with a sensational effort, if it were not for a great play from Leon Draisaitl to force a turnover and a fantastic finish from Eberle, chances are Edmonton finds a way to lose that game.
Asset Value Will Be Crucial
From an organizational standpoint, having No. 14 catch fire is exactly what they need. If Eberle starts putting up points at his previous clip, chances are Edmonton will start winning more hockey games and the player’s potential value on the open market will continue to climb. Now does that mean the three-time 60 point man is all but guaranteed to eventually find his way out-of-town? Not at all and in fact, it could possibly have the complete opposite effect.
[Related Article: The Sky Is Not Falling]
Also, let’s not forget that the organization has yet to see Eberle play alongside Connor McDavid. While injuries to both players have kept Todd McLellan from trying this out, something tells me Peter Chiarelli would not even consider making a move without seeing said duo in action. With that said, the Oilers will do something to address the holes on this roster prior to the start of the 2016-17 season. You can book it…it will happen.
Would not having your supposed puzzle pieces firing on all cylinders not be an ideal set up before pulling the trigger on any sort of major deal? One would think so and if Jordan Eberle can put together a strong push over the final 55 games of the current campaign, the Edmonton Oilers should be in pretty good shape heading into next summer’s draft.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.