If Jordan Eberle is Available in Trade Talks, Should the Boston Bruins Pick Up the Phone and Inquire?
NHL trade rumor season is upon us. With the trade deadline less than a month away, it’s normal for teams and players to start coming up in trade speculation. Fittingly, many are anticipating a Boston Bruins trade at some point this season. According to various sources around the league, the team has already kicked tires on a few star players recently such as Gabriel Landeskog and Kevin Shattenkirk.
An interesting name popped up on Friday, however, that might be of interest to the Bruins. When discussing the Edmonton Oilers, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned that Jordan Eberle could potentially be on the move to help free up some cap space for an Oilers team that will need to pay Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl hefty sums of money soon. The Bruins didn’t come up as a possible destination – no team did, but that doesn’t mean general manager Don Sweeney won’t at least pick up the phone and call former colleague Peter Chiarelli in Edmonton to inquire about the 26-year-old forward.
When Talking About the Oilers’ Situation, Friedman Had This to Say:
"“I think they have tried to trade both Eberle and Pouliot for some time now and I don’t think there’s a market (right now). One of the problems is that the cap is going to be flat next year. So I think it makes it harder for those kinds of guys to get dealt.”“I think everything that Peter Chiarelli does is with the realization that Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have to be re-signed. So what are those two guys going to be making… $16 million? $18 million? $20 million? I don’t know. But you have to be prepared for that.”“They used that (forward depth) last year to get Larsson. I’m sure if they were looking to deal Eberle (instead). Do they need another defenseman now? I guess you could always use another defenseman. And they do want to re-sign Russell too, which only adds to that issue. I think they really think that Eberle needs a change of scenery as much as anything else. I think if they could get that contract off there then it wouldn’t be as much as what they would get, it would be as much for they could remove.”– Elliotte Friedman"
Knowing that two of their young stars in Draisaitl and McDavid are going to need to be signed to new deals this season and next season respectively, Chiarelli will need to make a move soon. The interesting part of a deal for Eberle would be the fact that the Oilers would be looking to clear up cap space.
The Hypothetical Cost to Acquire Jordan Eberle
When talking to Silber of Oil on Whyte, the initial ask was exactly as expected. One of Brandon Carlo or David Pastrnak were immediately brought up. As was the case with the Landeskog discussions, both should be untouchables on the Bruins roster. The cost, though, came down to a top-six right winger, or a top-four defenseman as the starting point.
Despite the fact that the Oilers need to clear cap space, Eberle isn’t being traded without a solid return.
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A proposed counter of Ryan Spooner, Joe Morrow, and a first round draft pick was rejected. Neither player possesses the talent that Eberle does, and Morrow is a left-shooting defenseman. The Oilers could use a right-shooting defender more than one who shoots left, and as a result, the deal was simply turned down.
Colin Miller could potentially be brought into discussions with the Bruins having Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy in their system as right-handed defenders, but giving up on Miller so early in his development seems like a bad idea regardless. Miller has shown that he has legitimate NHL potential and though Eberle would fill a need for the Bruins, Miller is also someone the Bruins should look to avoid moving.
Should the Bruins Make A Deal?
If the Bruins are offered a trade that includes Brandon Carlo, David Pastrnak, Colin Miller, or Charlie McAvoy, they should probably move on and find another trade that better suits them elsewhere. This isn’t to say that Eberle isn’t worth any of those players, it’s just a matter of the scenario that the Bruins are in with their lack of identity and internal cap issues to deal with in the coming years.
Trading away the future of a team that isn’t ready to compete for a player in his prime seems unnecessary.
Should they get away with an offer of Spooner, Morrow, and a first, as unlikely as it may seem, the deal should be taken in a heartbeat.
As is stands, the Bruins are probably not going to end up with Jordan Eberle by the trade deadline. His cost will be way too high for a Bruins team that shouldn’t be mortgaging their future for a player that won’t put them over the edge and make them instant Stanley Cup contenders, or even playoff contenders for that matter.
Still, it would be nice to imagine what Eberle could do for the Bruins.
What Could Eberle Bring to the Bruins?
There are certainly a few things to consider. With Eberle in the lineup, he would likely slot in on David Krejci’s right wing. This would give Krejci a legitimate point-producer who could help open up some looks on that line. Krejci’s lines have always benefited when at least one player flanking the Czech-forward could bury the puck.
Over Eberle’s career, he’s scored at least 20-goals in five consecutive full seasons. This includes 25 goals last season and 34 goals in 2011-12. Eberle is a tremendously skilled winger who shines in big moments. Putting him next to Krejci would take some of the pressure off of Patrice Bergeron’s line having to be so dominant each and every night to give the Bruins any chance of winning a game.
This would also likely slot David Backes into a third-line center role. While it’s not ideal to see Backes playing third-line minutes, he is still a natural center. Moving him to the third line would bolster it with a solid two-way, gritty veteran. With the main focus being shifted to the Bruins top-two lines with legitimate scoring threats on each, Backes and his linemates would provide some depth scoring outside of those two lines. When fully healthy, the Pittsburgh Penguins often play Phil Kessel alongside Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin on the team’s third line. This shows that a balanced attack is more important than traditional first, second and third line roles.
The idea of seeing Eberle in a Bruins jersey is certainly a titillating one. Still, it doesn’t seem likely that any deal will happen that sends Eberle to Boston at any time soon. The team is still looking for its identity. If the cost of a player like Eberle is absolutely one of their bright young players, the trade talks should end before they ever begin.