It was a pretty big possibility that the Edmonton Oilers would have yet another disappointing season last year, which can mostly be attributed to a weak blue line and defensive system. One thing I had not envisioned, however, was that Jordan Eberle would have his lowest goals total in a full season since his rookie year, with 24.
He'd reached 34 in 2011-12 and got close to that rate again with 16 in 48 games in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, but followed that one up with 28 before sliding again this past year.
In his defense, the team was a mess under initial coach Dallas Eakins, the ship was kind of steered right by Todd Nelson, but scoring was spread out more evenly - good news for Nail Yakupov, who reverted back to form while playing with Derek Roy, but a small dip for Eberle.
You might recall Eberle was my choice for captain of the team back in 2013, though they ultimately went with free agent signing and Stanley Cup winner hometown hero Andrew Ference (a fine choice at the time) and instead gave Eberle and Taylor Hall the alternates' ''A'', and now that Connor McDavid is in town, he might be next in line in two or three years, provided he lives up to at least 85% of the hype gone his way.
I'm not yet sold on having Cam Talbot - he of 53 career NHL games - being anointed the starting goalie to lead the franchise out of the depths of the NHL's standings, so perhaps there will be more Eberle trade rumours further down the line, though if I were GM, I'd be more inclined to move Hall of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (who will soon be expendable as a center with McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in the pipeline) to shore up the blue line with a true #1 or #2 defenseman, perhaps even as a conversation starter in Shea Weber talks.
Keep in mind, with Jordan Eberle, you're eyeing this guy:
And so, in all his splendor, here he is sporting the Oilers' retro-current blue uniform, from Upper Deck's 2013-14 Fleer Showcase set (card #S-JE of the Stitches insert sub-set):
god-awful dark blue Reebok Edge lockout-era monstrosities.