When it comes to the NHL rumour mill, there are few teams that are mentioned as often as the Edmonton Oilers. Now considering we are talking about a franchise that has missed the playoffs for nine consecutive seasons, no one should be overly surprised to hear their inclusion in so many trade scenarios.
With that said, perhaps the time has come to let up a little when it comes to Jordan Eberle. While the 25-year old may not be every fan’s cup of tea, this notion that he is supposedly on the trade market is absolutely ridiculous. There is no doubt that Peter Chiarelli would listen to offers on each and every one of his players not named Connor McDavid, like any good General Manager would, but that is a far cry from shopping one of your better players around the league.
However, barring a team offering a deal the Oilers simply could not refuse, Eberle is not going anywhere. In fact, the addition of McDavid into the equation makes the likelihood of Edmonton seriously entertaining the thought even less likely. Contrary to popular belief, this group is not the high-scoring side so many seem to think and are in no position to be shipping productive top six forwards out of town.
Yakupov Hasn’t Proven Anything Yet
Obviously, throwing a “generational talent” into the mix will change things, but this is not a roster that is blessed with an abundance of elite finishers. Outside Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, where else are the goals going to come from? Benoit Pouliot had a very productive first season with the Oilers and hopefully that will continue in 2015-16, but that got this team where in 2014-15?
How about Nail Yakupov or Leon Draisaitl? In my mind, the big German centre is still a couple of years away from making any real mark on a consistent basis, which makes him nothing more than a question mark for the coming season. As far as the talented Russian is concerned, he has always had the potential to develop into a consistent 30-goal scorer at this level and I still believe he will eventually become that player. But is that not what Eberle is now? During his three full seasons in the NHL, the 2009-10 WHL Player of the Year has posted goal totals of 24, 28 and 34.
— Sean Tierney (@SeanTierneyTSS) March 14, 2015
So let me get this straight. Edmonton should trade away the guy that has scored more goals than any other player they have had over the last five years and hope the one they took first overall in 2012, turns out to be just as productive? Again, if you get a king’s ransom in return you jump at it, but in reality that won’t happen. Take a look around the league and how many wingers in today’s game would fetch you a legitimate top pairing defenceman in a trade?
At the absolute most, we are talking about a handful of guys. For a team that is looking to actually try to improve both on the ice and in the overall standings, the plan of attack should not be to get even younger and essentially downgrade on the amount of true goal scorers in their lineup. This seems fairly straightforward.
Eberle May Eventually Go But Not Know
While the “trade” Eberle crowd tends to focus on the shortcomings in his game, they do the complete opposite when it comes to a kid like Yakupov. At this stage of his career, the former Sarnia Sting standout is a liability in his own half of the rink and nowhere near the point producer. Obviously, at 21-years of age he has a ton of time to grow and find his game but at the end of the day, we are probably talking about a 35-goal/70-point guy.
Please, go back and take a quick look at good old No. 14’s stat line since coming to the NHL. He already put that very season together in 2011-12 and fell just short on two other occasions. Not too shabby for a guy who has struggled with his consistency in the last two seasons. Add to that the obvious chemistry with both Hall and Nugent-Hopkins and the arrival of Mr. McDavid and a move seems even more far-fetched. Improvements need to be made, but making moves for the sake of doing so is not the way to go.
At some point along the way, the Edmonton Oilers may come to the conclusion that parting ways with Jordan Eberle may be necessary in order for this group to get over that final hurdle, but then again, maybe not. No matter what side of the fence you land on in, those days are not on the immediate horizon. So please, spare me the endless rumours involving the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators or anyone else, for that matter. It is not happening so let’s all agree to move on to something else.
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.