Saturday, 21 July 2012
07/18/12 Trading Jordan
That title didn't cause you to throw the computer against the wall? Well then by all means, read on.
The Edmonton Oilers don't necessarily need to trade any of their Fab Four. There's nothing wrong with having four forwards who could all reach elite status one day. But if any one of them ends up getting moved, Jordan Eberle might be the one.
Right now Eberle probably has the highest value of any Oilers player. He's coming off a 34-goal, 76-point season in which he played in the All Star Game and led the Oilers in scoring. The question is how much of that scoring will carry forward into the future.
Of all NHL players in 2011-12 who appeared in at least 30 games, Eberle had the second-highest team on-ice shooting percentage in the league. In other words, a lot of bounces were going the Oilers' way when Eberle was on the ice at even strength. His individual shooting percentage was the seventh-highest of all NHL players who played 30 or more games, at 18.9%. He was the only player in 2011-12 to score 30 goals on less than 200 shots. Jonathan Willis wrote a piece at OilersNation which outlines some historical comparables to Eberle, and also asserts that his goal production is likely to drop off.
All of this data means that it's very unlikely that we'll continue to think of Jordan Eberle as a sure-fire 30 goal scorer unless he can significantly increase the amount of shots on goal that he manages each game. So far he has averaged around 2.3 shots per game in each of his first two NHL seasons. Over 82 games that's in the neighborhood of 189 shots per season. Even at an above average shooting percentage like 12%, that would still only make for roughly 22 or 23 goals.
Average NHL shooting percentage has been in decline almost every year since the lockout, to a low of just 8.94% in 2011-12. It's getting harder to score goals, which makes it less likely for any player to maintain the high average that Eberle had this past season.
A twenty goal scorer is still very valuable to any team, but if Eberle struggles to reach the heights of 2011-12 there's a chance the bloom could come off the rose between him and the organization. The three first overall picks probably have higher long term upside, which means that any significant future move could involve the former Regina Pat.
Trading Jordan Eberle is still a very risky, almost certainly incorrect move. However, if I had to guess which of the four is most likely to go, it would be him.