When it comes to Jordan Eberle’s future with Oilers, Chiarelli is ‘happy to have him on our team’

AP
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Approaching the one-year anniversary of the controversial Taylor HallAdam Larsson trade, Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli may need to move another high profile forward.

This time, however, any potential move would be to free up cap space in order to re-sign a pair of cornerstone franchise players in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Draisaitl is a pending restricted free agent this year, while McDavid — up for the Hart Trophy at the age of 20 — is a pending RFA at the end of next season.

Draisaitl saw another significant increase in his production during the regular season, with 29 goals and 77 points in 82 games, before he went off in the postseason, particularly against the Ducks, with 16 points in 13 games.

Read more: Some big decisions remain for the Oilers

Both players will be due for a respective raise, and getting both players re-signed to new deals is the key priority for Chiarelli, and he’s admitted as much.

“The way we’re going to have to spend our money in the future probably will mean us moving a player,” he told Pierre LeBrun of TSN. “When that future is, I don’t know. We’ve got — basically, we’ve got a year to play with, in my mind.”

That brings up the point of perhaps having to move a forward. Jordan Eberle‘s name has certainly been circulated in the trade rumor mill as a potential candidate to be moved.

Eberle still has two more years left on his deal that comes with an annual cap hit of $6 million. He had 20 goals and 51 points this past regular season for the Oilers, but only two assists in 13 playoff games, as Edmonton qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2006.

His struggles even prompted head coach Todd McLellan to publicly call out Eberle during the second round versus Anaheim.

There is no getting around the fact Eberle’s playoff production — or lack of — was disappointing, but Chiarelli came to the defense of his 27-year-old right winger, saying he was “happy to have him on our team.”

“I think Jordan, outside of two players, probably had the most positive touches of the puck on our team. I really don’t feel the need to defend him,” he said.

“He didn’t have a great playoff. He didn’t have a good playoff. But he did a lot of things that we expected of him. He just didn’t have the offense that we expected him to have in the playoffs. What he does is he creates space with his touches and I thought he played well. In his defense, it’s the first time he’s been in the playoffs.”