As the NHL rapidly approaches the trade deadline, trade rumours have popped up everywhere. The Flames as usual have been included in a lot of them. Last week, Jordan Eberle was brought up by Dan Rosen as a possible target the Calgary Flames might be looking at. Does it make sense take a look at what a potential Eberle trade could look like? Is it worth it and does he fit? Let’s break it down.
How good is Eberle?
Let’s look at how Eberle has played so far this season, and in the past three years where he was playing with the New York Islanders.
Eberle had his best season recently in 2019–20, but he’s remained pretty consistent since then with 0.60 points per game in both of his last two seasons.
Eberle is currently the Kraken’s first line right winger (as he was on the Islanders before) and is second on the team in points, following only Jared McCann.
Eberle has been a key player in Seattle this season but hasn’t been enough to pull the team out of the bottom of the Pacific division. Due to Seattle’s current position in the standings it would make sense for the team to try to sell hard at the deadline this year.
Eberle, who turns 32 in May, doesn’t fit a young building team like the Kraken. Before digging deeper though it is important to note he currently has a 16-team no-trade clause, but given the Flame’s product as well as the fact that Eberle hails from Saskatchewan, odds on him leaving Calgary off the no-trade list seems high.
What can Eberle bring to the Flames?
The Flames have struggled at times this year, and most of the blame has been on the team’s lack of secondary scoring depth and their lack of a skilled true right wing player. Eberle would likely fit in on the Flames’ second line so as not to split up Johnny Gaudreau , Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk, and he would instantly help to revitalize what has recently been a slumping second line. The injection of more secondary scoring that Eberle could provide would do wonders for the Flames.
The Flames have also struggled to have a reliable right winger for a very long time. Eberle would be able to provide much needed consistent production on the right side of the ice, and would help to pull defensive pressure from the left side, where the Flames have been completely reliant on so far this season.
The visuals from HockeyViz.com reveal the finish issues the Flames have faced. The first plot shows more blue than red, indicating that the Flames are not converting their shots into goals. The second plot shows more red than blue, meaning the Flames are generating way more offence compared to league average.
The combination of the two makes a strong case that adding players with scoring ability would be a key factor in elevating the Flames to the next level of contending for the Stanley Cup.
Eberle also has a lot of playoff experience which is something the top-six is seriously missing. He has played in 62 career NHL playoff games and has 36 career playoff points. In comparison, Gaudreau, Tkachuk, Lindholm, and Andrew Mangiapane have a combined career playoff point total of 38 points.
He knows what it takes to go on deep playoff runs; with the Islanders, Eberle made it to the Eastern Conference Final twice, and the second round once. He also made the second round with the Oilers in 2017.
With the Flames in dire need of some playoff success this year, Eberle could be a huge part of helping to bring a winning playoff mentality into the locker room alongside Blake Coleman.
What would Eberle cost?
With Seattle likely to be sellers at the trade deadline, you can expect that Ron Francis will be trying to acquire future picks and young promising players in exchange for anyone on their way out of Seattle.
The Flames would likely need to give up their first-round draft pick in this year’s draft. Last season, first-round draft picks were included in many comparable deadline deals such as the Anthony Mantha trade.
What makes trading for Eberle difficult is that he isn’t a rental—he has two more seasons after this one with a cap hit of $5.5M. It is unlikely that Seattle would be willing to retain much or any of the salary on his contract. With that in mind, the Flames would need to be able to match most of his current salary. Naturally most fans would want to try and flip Monahan for this purpose. But it seems unlikely that Seattle in its current situation would really want him. Instead it seems more likely that Dillon Dube would be the most likely trade candidate.
While it would hurt a little to see Dube move on, he doesn’t fit the win now timeline the Flames need to be on as well as Eberle would. While he still remains a promising enough young player to entice the Kraken.
If the Kraken are unwilling to retain any salary, the Flames would also likely need to send an expiring depth piece such as Brett Ritchie to make the money work.
Potential lineup with Eberle
Immediately, Eberle would help with both the team’s secondary scoring issue, and filling the hole at right wing. The Flames won’t want to split up Gaudreau, Tkachuk, and Lindholm, so he could play on the second line with a big impact on scoring.
Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk
Mangiapane – Backlund – Eberle
Lucic – Monahan – Coleman
Injecting Eberle into the lineup would give the Flames two lines with high scoring potential, which is something the Flames desperately need. He’s also a definite improvement on players such as Tyler Pitlick, and Brad Richardson who he’d be likely pushing out of the lineup.
Should the Flames go for it?
The Flames should definitely consider acquiring Eberle if he’s truly available and they aren’t on his 16 team no-trade list. He would provide the team with exactly what its missing, and would help bring a playoff mentality the team needs more of. The time for the Flames to go all in is now, and bringing in Jordan Eberle would be a great way for the team to become true cup contenders.
Ahead of tonight’s Flames contest, the bookies have predicted a double underdog, with Betway Sports pricing the Flames at +160 and the Blues at +110 to win the game in regulation, with an overtime decision being priced at +330.
(Image via Seattle Kraken)