The Edmonton Oilers traded Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders on Thursday in exchange for forward Ryan Strome.
Eberle was without question a fan favorite in the city of Edmonton. Still, it’s safe to say that the majority of the fanbase was aware that a trade was on the horizon. Though Eberle’s name had been on top of the rumor mill for at least two years now, it was clear at the start of the offseason that a trade was imminent.
At the start, I was completely against any type of move. You would be moving one of the most consistent 20-goal scorers. However, after the team traded superstar Taylor Hall, I warmed to the idea of moving Eberle.
Eberle carries a $6 million cap hit for two more seasons, but his production with the team has continued to decline. He averaged just 53.6 points over the last three seasons, which clearly is not good enough for someone with that price tag.
However, what seemed to be the true turning point was his ineffective performance in the Oilers’ recent playoff run. Eberle managed just two points in 13 games, good for 16th on the team. After that disappointing effort, most of the hockey world realized Eberle’s time definitely could be up in Edmonton.
To put it simply, the Edmonton Oilers needed to complete this deal so they could save money to sign league MVP Connor McDavid and phenom Leon Draisaitl to long-term contracts. These two have leaped ahead of Eberle on Edmonton’s depth chart of talented superstars.
The deal also makes sense from a financial standpoint.
Ryan Strome carries a cap hit of $2.5 million, which is more than half of Eberle’s. Since Edmonton did not have to retain any salary in the transaction, this move not only gives the Oilers a good young player but also enables the team to have more cap flexibility this year and next year.
Plus, Strome is a valuable asset and has a lot of room to grow. He hasn’t been able to get back to a high point total after scoring 50 points in 2014-2015, but a change of scenery could go a long way.
“Ryan hasn’t put the numbers up like Jordan, but he’s got some things to his game that will help us in our division,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “He’s got good size, he’s got a terrific wrist shot … He can play centre or the wing, very good on the half wall. These are all some of the things that Jordan has, but when we can save cap space we have to do it. That’s the reality of building a team these days. It was a good fit [from a] hockey perspective, and a good fit from a team-building and cap perspective.”
While Chairelli admitted Strome is coming off a down year, he’s confident in his ability to rebound.
“He’s a skilled, cerebral player,” Chiarelli said. He’s 23 years old, he’s going to continue to get stronger. He had a little bit of a dip last year, the fact that his game came on rejuvenated our interest in him. We like the sense, we like the shot, we like the way he thinks the game. That really never changed.”
This is definitely a move that could be filed under the category of “Smart Hockey Trade” for both sides. I think Jordan Eberle was in desperate need of a change of scenery. He could be that perfect winger for John Tavares.
For all those reasons, this move makes sense for the organization even if it’s tough to lose such a key member of this team’s core..
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