Considering Jake Guentzel and Jordan Eberle as potential trade options for the Edmonton Oilers.

It appears increasingly probable that the Edmonton Oilers will pursue an upgrade before the deadline. However, the main question revolves around what aspect of their team they will seek to improve. In our series, “Meet the Sellers,” we examine Edmonton’s requirements and consider players from specific teams who could fulfill those needs. One such requirement is a scoring winger, and the Oilers have been linked to two players by TSN’s Chris Johnston for some time.

During a discussion on February 1, Johnston and Pierre LeBrun explored potential moves in the near future, with Johnston suggesting that the Oilers are interested in acquiring a high-impact forward once the market matures. Johnston specifically mentioned Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel and Seattle’s Jordan Eberle, both pending unrestricted free agents, as potential targets for the Oilers.

This isn’t the first time Johnston has associated Edmonton with these players. In late January, he discussed Guentzel, Eberle, and another former Oiler, David Perron, as possible targets on his own show. In late December, Johnston and LeBrun speculated about potential matches, with Johnston once again highlighting Guentzel as an ideal fit for the Oilers.

What makes Guentzel particularly intriguing? This season, the 29-year-old left-winger has tallied 22 goals and 49 points, pacing for 39 goals and 87 points by season’s end, marking a career high in points and narrowly missing his career-best goal tally by one. Guentzel’s track record as an elite scorer is evident, having reached the 40-goal mark twice, with a 30-goal season, complemented by numerous 20-goal campaigns. Even in his rookie year, he fell just shy, notching 16 goals in 40 games. Notably, during that rookie season, he also contributed 13 goals in 25 playoff games, aiding the Pittsburgh Penguins in clinching their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

As of February 6, the Penguins sit at 51 points in 46 games, trailing the Detroit Red Wings by seven points but holding three games in hand. Additionally, they are tied with the New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals, both of which are potential playoff contenders.

Considering the eventual departures of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins might find it sensible to trade Guentzel, who will soon become an unrestricted free agent. Locking Guentzel into a long-term contract could hinder the team’s prospects during an impending rebuild post-Crosby and Malkin eras. Furthermore, the Penguins currently lack a robust farm system, ranking 27th in the league according to Scott Wheeler of The Athletic.

It could be prudent for the Penguins to reconfigure at the upcoming deadline, acquiring draft picks and prospects, and regrouping for the next season. Allowing Guentzel to depart in pursuit of a playoff berth could significantly affect the team’s long-term trajectory. Guentzel, with a current season cap hit of $6 million, will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Additionally, he holds a 12-team no-trade clause, though it remains uncertain if Edmonton is among those restricted teams, according to information from Puckpedia.

The Penguins are undoubtedly interested in extending his contract, and recent reports have presented conflicting information about his situation. According to Nick Kypreos, Guentzel turned down a six-year, $8.5 million deal. However, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period has refuted this claim, stating that there have been no ongoing contract negotiations at this time.

Regarding Jordan Eberle, if the Oilers aim to enhance their offensive capabilities, Jake Guentzel stands out as the preferred option, given his experience playing alongside top-tier talent, his impressive point-per-game playoff performance, his championship ring, and his overall suitability for the role. Nevertheless, a reunion with former Oiler Jordan Eberle would offer a pleasant homecoming.

Eberle’s current season with the Seattle Kraken shows nine goals and 28 points in 46 games. The 2022-23 season marked his best performance in terms of points since 2014-15, with 20 goals and 63 points, matching the output of the last Oilers team before Connor McDavid’s era.

Despite a challenging initial playoff run with the Oilers, where he recorded only two assists in 13 games, Eberle has accumulated significant playoff experience since then. In 63 playoff games with other teams, he has scored 19 goals and tallied 45 points, demonstrating his ability as a playoff performer and suggesting that the Oilers made a regrettable mistake by trading him away.

Leading up to the All-Star break, Eberle displayed improved performance, scoring five of his nine goals in the last nine games, along with five assists for a total of 10 points. Unlike Guentzel, Eberle will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, carrying a cap hit of $5.5 million. However, Eberle lacks a modified no-trade clause or any similar clause, giving him limited leverage in potential trade negotiations with Seattle.

Seattle remains in contention for a wild card position with a 21-19-10 record and 52 points, just two points behind a playoff spot with one additional game played. Edmonton has an opportunity to match the 1992-93 record for the longest win streak in history, currently held by the Pittsburgh Penguins. As the trade deadline is still over a month away, both Pittsburgh and Seattle have time to assess their positions in the playoff race before making any moves. Additionally, there’s speculation that Detroit may consider selling if they lose their grip on the final Wild Card spot, potentially leading to a reunion with David Perron, although Daniel Sprong could be the preferred target.

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