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Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez - USA TODAY Sports

Should the Vancouver Canucks Pursue Jordan Eberle?

What we’re going through right now is the calm before the Canucks’ offseason storm. They’re far enough past their season’s expiry that their housekeeping’s finished and everyone is left waiting for the drafts, expansion and entry alike.

So when Elliotte Friedman mentions the Canucks in passing as someone who, in his estimation, should perhaps consider checking in on Jordan Eberle’s availability, we listen. It’s the closest thing we’ve had to a Canucks’ rumour in what feels like weeks.

I should add, though, that this isn’t a rumour, and Friedman’s language makes that abundantly clear. As the indispensable Chris Nichols of FanRagSports.com details, Friedman only suggests to the hosts of 630 CHED that if he were Vancouver, he would take a look at [an Eberle move]. Friedman even adds that the Canucks probably aren’t interested later in the interview.

Friedman’s reasoning, from the Canucks perspective, is that “they’re really having trouble scoring goals”, and he’s right. Vancouver produced the third-fewest goals this season (sixth-fewest at even strength), and there isn’t a quick fix within the Canucks’ system.

Since joining the NHL for the 2010-11 season, Eberle has scored at a nearly 27 goals per 82 games pace. In this, a down year for Eberle, he potted 20 goals and 31 assists for a 51 point. Those 51 points would trail only Bo Horvat among Canucks’ skaters.

All the same, Eberle faced scrutiny all season for his dipping offensive production and seemingly indifferent attitude. To make matters worse, Eberle did himself no favours with a paltry two assists to show for the Oilers “unforgettable” playoff run. At one point, even, Edmonton Oilers super fan David Staples wrote about the possibility that Oilers head coach Todd McLellan was “furious” with the 26-year-old winger.

 

As is often the case when a traditionally strong offensive player’s production suddenly drops, Eberle suffered a significantly lower personal shooting percentage this season than his career average. This season, Eberle converted on 9.6% of his shots, whereas his career average is 13.4%.

Since he entered the league, Eberle’s been something of a one-trick pony. His one trick is perhaps the most valuable in the NHL though: he scores goals. When the production dries up as it did this season, though, there’s nothing for a player with Eberle’s skill set to fall back on. Dipping production and a cap hit of $6-million attached to it annually makes him an easy target as a result, rightly or wrongly.

That’s going to make Eberle cheaper than he likely should be, as Oilers Nation’s Jonathan Willis points out. That works in the Canucks’, or any other team’s, interest if they want to add the scoring winger.

For the Canucks, though, I don’t think it’s as simple as adding players who can score because, well, they can score.

Eberle turns 27-years-old in time for Monday. That’s doesn’t mean he’s over the hill, but given the average forward peaks between 24 and 26 years of age, it’s worth asking how much longer until he reaches that point.

The Canucks are, in a best case scenario, two to three years away from getting a sniff of the post-season. Eberle is two years away from unrestricted free agency on a deal that costs $6-million against the cap in each season.

Assuming Eberle bounces back, and that’s a reasonable assumption, how many wins does that add in the Canucks’ immediate future? Is it enough to get them to the post-season? And will the inevitable price hike be worth it when he’s crossing into the twilight of his career?

The problem, as I see it, is that acquiring Eberle from the Oilers means putting a band-aid over the Canucks’ goal scoring problems in the short-term so that they’ve the privilege to overpay for his declining seasons when the rest of this team’s core reaches a point where competing is a legitimate possibility.

For most rebuilding franchises, the rule of thumb should be to avoid making significant investments in players past 24-years-old. Eberle is an exceptional goal scorer when he’s on his game. I don’t think he’s an exception to that rule, though.

  • neal

    The Canucks should be trying to trade for Austin Wagner, a fourth-round pick of LA. Now Playing for Regina. This kid will be very very good. He plays somewhere between Perry, Getzlaf potential. If in this year’s draft he would be in the top five.

  • Boddy604

    The Canucks don’t need another classic perimeter player with no bite. Eberle can score but he would take a roster spot from one of Boeser or Goldobin. I’d rather just focus on developing those guys than surrender assets for an expensive winger who may or may not fit in.

    If they are gonna trade for a scoring forward, I’d way rather it be someone with a bit of nastiness who can throw hits and battle in the crease.

    To me, Eberle is just a short term solution (if solution is even the right word) that doesn’t address what the team is missing. Which is toughness up front.

  • Beef jyrki

    The canucks need to stay away from Eberle and his high price contract. In order to get younger and faster, they need to aquire draft picks and higher end prospects. Trading Tanev, Elder and not bringing miller back is a good start.

    • Northnuck

      Totally agree, maybe bring Demko up and give him 30 to 35 starts. Thus years draft is poop, I am crossing my fingers and hoping beyond hope that Patrick somehow slips down to 5th (miracles can happen). But seriously I hope that JB does a good job in the draft this year, all the mock drafts have us drafting Glass, I personally would rather see Rasmussen, we need the size and speed desperately.

  • Braindead Benning

    Just a simple question…
    What draft pick or player that JB/TL
    Has either traded/drafted/UFA that has made a huge impact to the future that stands out to the team that will be around and to build a team around after 3 years?

    • LTFan

      Simple answer. They haven’t and how could they with their draft position and the assets available for a trade. That being said, IMO, the trading of Shinkaruk for Granlund was a winner as was Baertschi for the 2nd round pick in 2015 to Calgary. They are small steps but positive steps.

      Who would you have traded or drafted to make a huge impact on the future of the Canucks?

  • Northnuck

    No! We already have an Eberle, Loui. The nucks need to really focus on player development, we have several good prospects that would really benefit from a roster spot, of course if they earn it. Boeser looks great, and would benefit greatly from more ice time, Horvat needs his ice time kept up as well, Goldy could use more responsibility, he has inedible skill needs more experience in big game situations. An Eberle would not help at this point. We also have Gaudet and Lockwood coming to, they both are looking really good. JB should not sign any more FAS, we have seen to much of that backfire on us, let’s go through the pains of a true rebuild, retool, and develop the young guys, I like the direction JB and TL are going here, we just need to stop being so entitled as fans, be patient, and watch our team be reborn and turned into a contender again.

    • Tedchinook

      I wouldn’t mind them signing a FA or two to speed up the rebuild, but they definitely don’t need a small, slow guy with skill like Eberle. The FA’s I think they should be looking at are gritty guys with size who can play.