The Montreal Canadiens are clearly at a point where they've decided to look to the future, so adding young and talented players seems only logical. That said, the name Jordan Eberle has recently been floating around, and it seems he may be available.
Hearing a name I thought I would have heard a lot more often past few days but have not.... until today. Jordan Eberle this is interesting!— Brian Lawton (@brianlawton9) February 28, 2016
Though not having the best season of his career, his offensive numbers are definitely respectable at 20 goals and 17 assists. When you dig a little deeper into his stats, what you find is a player that is highly effective at the offensive end.
Though he leaves something to be desired defensively, he is great in every other way. He's a creative player who would provide a big boost to the Canadiens offense in the coming years, and with their biggest issue being a lack of goals, they could sure use it.
At even strength this year, Eberle starts 49.9% of his shifts in the offensive zone. On the scoring chance front, he is at 50.3% scoring chances for, and 49.2% high-danger chances for. Not world-beating numbers, but keep in mind that he's playing on one of the few teams that struggle to win more than the Canadiens.
He is very worth the six million AAV that he carries, and in the right situation he could really blow up offensively. Could that situation be in Montreal?
Is he a fit?
His style of play may give Michel Therrien fits, but with proper deployment he is absolutely a fit on the Canadiens. You wouldn't really want to use him on a shutdown line, but on any sort of exploitation scoring line, he's a great addition.
Outside of Brendan Gallagher, the Canadiens are not particularly deep on the right wing, and Eberle fills that need perfectly. Getting him on the Canadiens would go a very long way towards strengthening the top-six, and would make the team's right wing situation look much better.
I envision him skating on the wing of Alex Galchenyuk, and it looks quite enticing. Galchenyuk is far better defensively than people give him credit for, so he takes care of that aspect, and at the offensive end those two could be a very serious threat together.
What would it take?
I've mentioned this before; Edmonton has a pressing need for defence. That said, they'd probably want something like Nathan Beaulieu, plus a draft pick, and perhaps even a prospect as well. Eberle is signed all the way through 2018-19, so the Oilers aren't just going to give him away.
Some analysts have suggested that Edmonton is in the market for some ruggedness on their back end as well. Perhaps the idea of Alexei Emelin and the Canadiens' first-round pick in the upcoming draft would be enough to get him on the Canadiens.
Again, he won't come cheap, but it seems likely that Marc Bergevin would be able to orchestrate a deal that would be acceptable for both sides.
Is it worth it?
I understand that many may be unwilling to part ways with that first-round pick, but considering where the Canadiens are in the standings right now, they are far from guaranteed a lottery pick. If they don't have a pick in the top five at the next draft, which is likely, using that pick to get an asset like Eberle would be perfectly fine.
If the Hockey gods gift the Canadiens with better health next year, their cup window could still be open. That means they have to go for it, and anything outside of a lottery pick isn't going to provide immediate help. Gambling that first for such immediate help is what you have to do if you want to compete.
His cap hit definitely puts a bit of a strain on an ability to pursue free agents in the offseason, but consider his numbers against the biggest free agent name that will be around on July 1.
Eberle is arguably a better option than Stamkos, and almost guaranteed to be cheaper as well. Not to disparage Stamkos, because he is a great player, but the better bargain right now would be to get Eberle.
The big question is whether Marc Bergevin can put together a package good enough to get him, but if he can, he should definitely take a shot at Jordan Eberle.