Darren Dreger may have summed up the Islanders acquisition of Jordan Eberle in the most succinct manor possible on Thursday.
To paraphrase, the Islanders were a team looking to make a splash this offseason and bringing in Eberle was a certainly a ripple. General manager Garth Snow pulled the trigger on a top-six forward that had been on the Islanders radar for quite some time and helped improve the team around star forward John Tavares.
It’s been well documented that Eberle and Tavares get along well, and the success they’ve had playing for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships. And he is quite familiar with what comes with playing alongside a star player, having played with Connor McDavid in Edmonton.
The newest member of the Islanders organization was quick to show his respect for his potential linemate next season.
“Obviously John (Tavares) is a generational player,” Eberle said during a conference call with the media. “A guy who thinks the game at a very high level and he’s obviously the leader of that team. I’m excited to hopefully get an opportunity to get a chance to play with him and hopefully bring some success to the Islanders.”
Tavares has had quite a few linemates play alongside him during his tenure as an Islander, but Eberle is perhaps the most bonafide talent to play alongside the Islanders captain since he arrived in New York in 2009. Eberle, a former first-round pick in 2008, is a five-time 20-goal scorer and has recorded 50-plus points in four NHL seasons, including in 2016-17.
So the expectations will be high on Eberle, who says he’s ready for the challenge ahead.
“There’s always pressure,” Eberle said. “It doesn’t matter whatever situation. The NHL is a tough league to play in, but for me you have to be confident in your ability and confident that you can be in a top-six role. I think I’ve shown in the past that I’ve been able to score in this league. I’ve had previous chemistry with John and played with him.
“Obviously he’s a very intelligent player and the way that he plays I think suits my game. If that’s where I end up I think our games suit each other well.”
With Eberle locked up now, the Islanders appear to still be working on something else, and with the team needing to prove that it’s moving in the right direction that is exactly what they need to do. The Islanders of course have reportedly been linked to several other high profile draft targets, including Matt Duchene and Alex Galchenyuk.
The Islanders have also popped up in rumors involving the Calgary.
The addition of Eberle tightens the Islanders cap situation a bit after freeing up $5 million on Wednesday by dealing Mikhail Grabvoski to the Vegas Golden Knights. Eberle has a cap hit of $6 million over the next two years, while the Islanders only shed $2.5 million by trading Ryan Strome.
Now any new deal will have to include some cap relief in the package, which could complicate another deal, but doesn’t make it impossible.
Trading Strome for Eberle in a one-for-one swap was a good deal for Snow, who earlier in the year or last year could have been looking at dealing away a lot more for the former Oiler forward’s services. Thus leaving the window open for more work to be done.
Bringing in Eberle was a good start to improve the Islanders heading into next season, but it will take another addition for that ripple to turn into a splash for the team’s offseason.