It is not the first time there is some chatter about the Montreal Canadiens being interested in Jordan Eberle. All the way back in 2014, there were already rumours to that effect... But what's different now is that the right wing is set to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time of his career come July 1st.
There's no denying that the Canadiens could use some fire power up front. I mean on the right side, the Canadiens have, in order: Brendan Gallagher (5th round, 147th pick overall in the 2010 draft), Andrew Shaw (5th round, 139th pick overall in the 2011 draft), Joel Armia (1st round, 16th overall pick in the 2011 draft) and Jordan Weal (3rd round, 70th pick overall 2010 draft). During the last season, the Habs had 246 goals for, that's 73 goals short of the league leading Tampa Bay Lightning who racked up 319 goals and it puts the Canadiens in 14th position league wide. Which team came last in that stat? the Anaheim Ducks with 296 goals, 50 goals less than Montreal. Oh and by the way, how many power play goals did the Lightning have? 74 goals...Take those away and the Habs offense doesn't look too bad but that being said, if you take away the CH power play goals (31) you're left with 215 goals.
Could Eberle potentially help the Canadiens' attack? Well, the guy sure has good pedigree, he was drafted 22nd overall in the 2008 draft and has down some sweet stuff wearing a team Canada jersey especially at the World Junior Championships. In the 2009 and 2010 tournaments, he gathered 26 points and is second overall for Canadian players at that event (5 points behind Eric Lindros in first place). At the senior level, he got 13 points in 10 games at the 2015 tournament, one point short of tournament leader Jason Spezza. The thing is though, his career high in points came in 2013-2014 with the Oilers and he's got 478 points in 666 games (well look at that... the devil's number). His production was decreasing with the Oilers and bumped up when he joined Tavares in New York but went down again this season after JT bolted. Meanwhile in 488 career games, Brendan Gallagher has 291 points and is 2 years younger. As for Andrew Shaw, in a more offensive role this season, he reached a career high of 47 points and has 233 points in 504 career games.
Money wise, Eberle's last contract was a 6-year deal worth 36 million. Is he going to be looking for a pay cut? That seems rather doubtful and need I remind you that Brendan Gallagher's cap hit is 3 750 000$ for 2 more seasons. Yes, Gallagher was a bargain but when it's time to ink him to a new deal, he will not come cheap. I guess what I'm saying is I'd rather hold on to the cap room to be able to sign both Max Domi and Brendan Gallagher to contract extensions over Jordan Eberle. Brendan Gallagher might only be 5th round pick but does he play like one? No he does not. Back in 2014-2015 when he had 24 goals we were told, he'll never get that high a number of goals ever again...and yet, he has, twice now. The point is, no matter what the scouting reports and draft rank say they cannot translate the player's determination and work ethic. Gallagher scores because he's willing to do anything to win and that is his sole motivation. Have you ever seen Eberle play with Gallagher like energy and determination? I haven't... Looking at Max Domi last season, I believe he also showed us determination, grit and talent he wants to be in Montreal and he wants to win here. Call me crazy but I'd rather be able to keep those two guys over bringing in a hired gun that might not be gunning that much anymore anyways...
Besides, we may very well get some help up front with the infusion of our talented youth come training camp. Kotkaniemi will be better this season, Poehling will be looking to make his mark (I know he won't keep up his 246 goals a season pace) and Suzuki might also be trying to get in. For me, getting help on the blue line would make more sense than spending the big bucks up front. What say you Habs fans?