Ever since January 2009, when Jordan Eberle scored an incredible tieing goal for Team Canada, the majority of Oilers fans have been in love with him.
Now 7 years later a lot of fans continue to hold a blind loyalty to him, even though he hasn’t shown any progress since his back to back 60 point seasons in 13/14 and 14/15, in fact from the tail end of 14/15 until this point it’s pretty obvious that Eberle has regressed in terms of his overall game.
The point production is still there:
|Season||Points Per Game|
He has been consistent in terms of how much offense he puts up, which is a very respectable number. In my opinion, if a team is going to pay a player 6 million and play him on your top line, that player better be able to do more than one thing. Eberle doesn’t.
He does have elite level hands, but can you really say there is anything else Jordan Eberle does good enough to make him a top line player?
You can’t call him an elite finisher when you look at how many chances he has had in tight and how little he actually puts the puck in the net and when a player lacks a shot like Eberle does, he better be able to finish more consistently in tight.
You can’t say he brings any sort of defensive responsibility to the top line, if anything, he’s a defensive liability. If you’re looking for someone who seems rather incapable of winning a puck battle in the offensive zone or for a player who can make really good blind passes out of his own end, well then Eberle is your guy. But once again these are just traits that aren’t desirable for a player who I’d want on Connor McDavid’s wing for the next few years.
He does a fairly good job of generating offense through his playmaking, his 1.27 first assists per 60 ranks behind only Connor McDavid and Taylor Hall over the past 5 years of Oilers hockey. But I’ll say it again, if he is a 6 million dollar right winger, I’m expecting more than a player who can play on my second line.
So if Jordan Eberle isn’t a top line player on the Edmonton Oilers, who is?
Well, let me start by saying that I firmly believe, based on what I’ve seen so far this season, that Jesse Puljujarvi will be taking that spot sometime in the next few seasons. His combination of size and speed allows him to both keep up with McDavid while being a dominant player down low. Combine those with his world class shot and you have the perfect match for #97.
But he isn’t ready yet, so who could step up right now? The Oilers do have a couple of in-house options to look at.
Here’s what some people often forget about the 25-year-old: He was a dominant offensive player in junior. To quote a scouting report from his draft year: “Pitlick has pro size, great hands, and a plus shot”. Those are three pretty big assets when you consider what the Oilers are looking for in a top line winger.
Some are saying that even though Pitlick has had a hot start to the year, Todd McLellan shouldn’t throw him up to the top line because it might be a little bit much for him. The reality is that Pitlick is 25 and if he isn’t ready to be a top-six forward now, he never will be.
I think it’s time for the Oilers to finally see what Tyler Pitlicks ceiling is and give him a good, honest opportunity to play with Connor McDavid.
The Oilers are sticking with the system of running three scoring lines, which involves having Draisaitl play on the third line. While it did bring them success early in the year, the team’s luck is starting to run out. It might be time to make a change.
Draisaitl has experience on the right wing from last season so I have no doubt he could be comfortable there. He would also give McDavid a winger with speed, a strong hockey IQ and a large frame that allows him to cycle the puck down low. He doesn’t have an elite shot, but it is still good and he can snap it off quickly, which would be an upgrade from McDavid’s current line mate.
All in all, the Oilers need to do something to kickstart the offense, so why not shake up who they deploy on the top unit?
Let me know what you think and what you would do if you were Todd McLellan on twitter or facebook!
(numbers via puckalytics.com)