No Hamonic, No Problem!

Could one of these fellas be on the move to shore up the blue line this summer?
Could one of these fellas be on the move to shore up the blue line this summer?

Proposing an Oilers Trade That Makes Sense

There was a time not that long ago when landing coveted top pairing defenceman, Travis Hamonic, was a real possibility for the Edmonton Oilers.  Hamonic’s desired trade destination, Winnipeg, had its hands full signing hulking D-man/power forward Dustin Byfuglien, and if they lost him to free agency, the Jets wouldn’t have the D assets to trade.

But then, somewhat surprisingly, the Jets and Byfuglien came to terms, leaving the Oilers in a much weaker bargaining position.

If Byfuglien hadn’t signed, there is a chance the Islanders would have taken one of the Oilers core forwards (likely RNH or Eberle) for Hamonic.  But ideally, Garth Snow would like a defenceman. (If he’s giving up a defenceman), and with big Buff locked up, Winnipeg now has defensive assets to deal: one of Jacob Trouba or Tyler Myers should do fine.  So while no deal has been done as yet, and likely won’t be done until draft day or later, the Jets and Islanders are likely trading partners . . . or are they?  Or should they be?

The question Jet’s GM Kevin Cheveldayoff should be asking is: are the Islanders the best trading partner for what his team needs? Recently the Oiler’s visited the Jets on the tail end of a road trip and squeezed out a 2 – 1 victory.  This doesn’t sound so bad except when you contrast it with the fact the Jets could only manage one goal against one of the worst defences in the league.  A defence where maybe two of the six defencemen dressed that night would be regulars on any other NHL team.The Jet’s scoring issues have been compounded by the loss of their captain Andrew Ladd and while they have a ton of talent in the pipe, that may not translate into immediate scoring help.

So if you’re Winnipeg, and you have a surplus of right shot D (currently Byufglien, Trouba, and Myers are all righties), and you need to make room for 2013 WJC standout Josh Morissey, plus your team has trouble burying the biscuit, what makes more sense?  Moving a major asset like Trouba to bring a native son home?  Or, moving that same asset to bring in some proven scoring?

And that’s where the Edmonton Oilers come in. The Oilers have lamented for years over missing out on skilled american rearguard Jacob Trouba.  Who knew the seventh defenceman chose in the 2012 draft could develop into its best blueliner?  Maybe even the best player.  But that’s the way the draft rolls. Normally Trouba would be considered untouchable but he’s having an off-year and stamping his feet for a huge raise (said to be in the are of $6.5M AAV as he heads to RFA status) and that has no doubt sent some enquiries to Jets GM Kevin Chevaldayoff.  And one of those GM’s likely inquiring, is our own Pete Chiarelli.

So what is the realistic ask for a player like Trouba?  He’s not a proven #1 like Pietrangelo or Doughty but he’s well on his way.

Dashboard 1 (1)

As the above stats indicate he rates as a top pairing defenceman in the majority of categories, but not every category.  The chart seems to indicate he could work on his passing, not something I’ve noticed when watching him, and likely something that would improve when playing with a more skilled forward core.  At any rate, Trouba is a significant upgrade over any RHD we currently have.

The Oilers could offer current number 3 center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but with Sheifele and Little producing well in the middle, there is little doubt which player the Jets would want in return, or more accurately the one that fills they scoring void best: Jordan Eberle.

Eberle is also coming off a sub par season, mostly due to injuries, but on a season when he’s healthy and feeling his oats, he’s a 25 – 30 goal, 65 – 70 point guy, and the Jets don’t have one of those in their line-up.  Making a trade with the Oilers makes perfect sense. The Jets are able to deal from a strength to shore up a weakness.  Additionally Eberle has a bit of an admiration society in Winnipeg, mostly due to his heroics in the 2008 World Junior Championships.  There is little doubt he would be welcomed with open arms.

But from the Oilers’ perspective, would this trade be an imbalanced one?  Trouba is still finding his potential and with his contract demands and shows signs of being a problem child (combined wih whispers of late night bad boy behaviour) is this a trade the Oilers will regret?  Potentially, yes.  But it’s a risk the Oilers should take and the contract concerns about Trouba can be explained away as pre-negotiation positioning.  Trouba’s antics likely indicate he does want a trade, but not necessarily to an American team.  More than likely he wants the opportunity to be unchallenged on right side and put up some points that will translate into a big pay-day.  In Winnipeg he’s intermittently playing behind Byfuglien, and that won’t help him pad his stats.  As for whispers of bad behaviour, at this point they’re only whispers, and the Oilers have a strong and recent track record of getting that type of player back on track.

Now circling back to Eberle, the Oilers would need to find a way to replace the 20 – 30 goals he provides and that would be a challenge.  Scoring is the hardest thing to do in hockey, and Eberle does it better than anyone else on the Oilers.  Not to mention the fact the Oilers actually score fewer goals per game than most teams, including Winnipeg.  But considering the scoring value Eberle provides, the harsh reality is the production of a scoring winger can be replaced with far greater ease than a top pairing defenceman.  And lordy the Oilers know this better than anyone.  David Perron, for example was coming off a 30 goal campaign when he was traded for mid first round pick.  This same pick, and more, was traded for defensive prospect Griffin Reinhart, who ended up spending most of the season in the minors.  Sounds like giving up a lot for not a lot to me.  And should the Oilers look to free agency or elsewhere to find a replacement for Eberle, the best available would likely be lining up for the opportunity to play with Mcdavid and be a part of the magic.  So While losing Eberle would hurt, the pain would go away quicker than the chronic migraines that come from watching a sub-par D.

Is a Trouba For Eberle Trade Too Remote?

Kevin Cheveldayoff
Winnipeg Jets GM: Kevin Cheveldayoff

There is no doubt this player swap is a bit of a stretch.  But hey, at 5’7″ stretch is my middle name. Realistically the biggest obstacle to this trade is Jets GM Chevaldayoff and his unwillingness to take calculated risks.  If Chevy was very creative he could swap Trouba for Eberle, and then Myers plus (prospect or pick) for Hamonic.  However, in Cheveldayoff’s five years as GM he has made only two trades that involved players trading places, and he only made those trades (Kane, Ladd) because he had to.  The guy is like Steve Tambelini on steroids when it comes to methodical indecisiveness.  Nonetheless, a Trouba-Eberle trade does make sense for both teams.  For the Oilers it would be a shame to miss out on Seth Jones, and possibly Hamonic or a potenital opportunity with Trouba.  Lets hope Chiarelli can make the most of what is left out there for young right hand D with promise.

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Lindsay Ryall Written by:

Born in Edmonton, raised in the pumpkin capital of Canada in rural Ab. and an Oiler fan since their first season.

  • Mike

    I wouldn’t trade Ebs. Send over Yak, a 2nd round pick and a prospect. That’s lots for an unproven defenseman. Would you trade Ebs for Klefbom? I wouldn’t. I fyou are gonna trade the most consistant and reliable scorer on the team (minus McDavid) for a D man he better be proven.