According to TSN’s Hockey Insider Bob Mckenzie, this could be the case prior to the roster freezing that occurs as a result of the Vegas Expansion Draft.
Let’s look at the facts.
Currently Eberle makes a grand total of 6 million dollars per year, as a result of a contract he signed. While worth the expense at the time, Edmonton’s rising stars will soon need contracts.
Players that need contracts in the coming years: McDavid (RFA 2018), Draisaitl, Griffin Reinhart, Eric Gryba, Kris Russell, Kassian, Desharnais, Hendricks, Khaira, Pitlick (2017).
Further down the pipe players like Nurse, Benning, Maroon, Letestu and Slepyshev need contracts in 2018. Likely not all of both categories will not be in the Oilers long term plan, but time will tell. Nurse will need a multi year, multi million-dollar contract, unless he is dealt prior to he signing.
Projected Salary: realistically McDavid can be one of the highest paid players in the league immediately off of his rookie contract. After leading the league in points in his first full year of the NHL warrants such. McJesus will continue to improve as Crosby will pass the torch for the best player in the league very soon. Draisaitl has earned a large contract as well. Showing he is an integral piece in the Oiler machine, I would expect him to earn anywhere north of 7 million. Pasternak is a winger of similar circumstance in Boston and will likely earn an offer as substantial as Draisaitl.
These are the two locks. The Oilers need to put as much money into these guys as they can in order to keep them in Edmonton for as long as possible. Players such as Eberle that still have the potential, but still take a large portion of the Cap up are the first to be shopped around as their trade value is apparent.
According to Mckenzie “You get all sorts of people who will say that Jordan Eberle is being made a scapegoat for a bad playoff and that he’s been a pretty good player for them over the years, and I think he has. But I also think that the Oil recognize that at some point in time – even if it’s not now, it’s probably a year from now – they desperately need, you know, they can’t afford to pay Jordan Eberle $6 million, is what it boils down to. And that’s what they’re paying him.”
“Now, they can afford it right now. So if they wanted to wait a year they could. But I think they recognize that there is, even in spite of a bad playoff, there’s significant interest in Jordan Eberle. And I think they want to turn the page and I think they want to bring in a different asset and they want to use those dollars elsewhere.”
This is obviously referring to his trade value. Edmonton needs to be proactive in shopping him now prior to the expansion. While Eberle didn’t have a bad season, he certainly didn’t stand out among the Oiler elite, notably in the playoffs. As Macdavid’s contract looms, the value of Eberle goes down. The bargaining power of Peter Chiarelii will decrease as teams will understand he simply needs to get a large contract off the books. As of now Chiarelli should shop Eb’s for a defenseman.
Colorado is a team looking to acquire forwards, make moves and frankly just do something in order to prevent a repeat of last season. Tyson Barrie would be a reasonable trade for Eberle. Barrie is a younger, but skilled defenseman and has a lot of potential on any roster. The only downside of this trade would be the similar contracts, as Barrie earns 5.5 until 2020.
In the interest of clearing more cap space, Chiarelli could send over a second player as Colorado has a serious amount of Cap space. Colorado
In spite of not meeting expectations to some in the hockey media, Eberle earned his contract in the ‘Before Macdavid’ period. The dark ages were a strange time in Edmonton as Hall, Nugent Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov were all selected as a result of first overall picks. As of now, the Nuge is the only remaining former prospect on the roster.
Hopefully the trade talks continue to heat up in the next few days the expansion has made this offseason super exciting.