While it was likely a combination that Todd McLellan was hoping to try out well before game No. 51 on the Edmonton Oilers schedule, the tandem of Jordan Eberle and Connor McDavid will finally see the light day on Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. After watching the duo of Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl carry this team for the better part of the past three months, the potential addition of a secondary scoring line could not have come at a better time for this group.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) February 1, 2016
Yes, the chances of the Oilers climbing back into the Western Conference playoff picture are not good but at this stage of the game, that is secondary. In order for this franchise to take a serious run at reaching the post-season in 2016-17, general manager Peter Chiarelli is going to need to know exactly what he has at his disposal before shuffling the deck in the coming months. Make no mistake, there will be more changes coming but there is no guarantee the guy wearing No. 14 will be the one leaving the Alberta capital.
No Guarantee Eberle Will Be the One Who Goes
Of all of the Oilers’ young forwards, Eberle continues to be the one most frequently rumoured to be headed out-of-town but it may not be so cut and dry. While it will likely take a game or two for the pair to figure things out, if the Regina native and No. 97 create some instant magic…all bets could be off. At some point, one of these kids are going to be traded but jumping to conclusions as to who it will be could prove to be a pointless endeavour.
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There is no question that a productive Eberle could garner quite a bit of interest on the open market heading into this summer’s NHL Entry Draft but there is another part of this equation that cannot be ignored. Should McDavid happen to enjoy his time playing with a guy who has not only shown the ability to put the puck in the net at this level but is also the owner of some of the “softest hands” in the league, do not be surprised to hear the 25-year old being referenced to as a core piece moving forward.
— Paul Almeida (@AzorcanGlobal) February 2, 2016
Let’s take a step back for second and think about this in a logical manner. Does anyone in their right mind believe for a second that this management team would move McDavid’s running mate? Again, all of this is dependent on the two forming a special bond in a short period of time but don’t be surprised if it happens. While there are those who are not fans of what Eberle brings to the table on a nightly basis, the kid puts points on the board and has never had the opportunity to play with a so-called “generational talent”.
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On the flip side of the equation, despite all of his success with Erie Otters during his three-year stint in the OHL, McDavid at no point has played with a player with the finishing ability of Eberle. When you put those two things together, the potential for something special happening is quite real and you can bet that won’t be lost on the guy standing behind the Oilers bench nor the one trying to make trades to improve his hockey club.
Regardless of how things play out over the next 32 games for the Edmonton Oilers, the return of Connor McDavid has essentially saved what has been another disappointing season for fans across Oilers Nation. With that said, should Jordan Eberle be able to rediscover his scoring touch playing alongside McDavid, something tells me the first 50 games of the season will no longer matter….as the focus will almost certainly shift to what could be on the horizon in 2016-17.
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.