New York Islanders Jordan Eberle Finding a Home On the Second Line

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: (l-r) Jordan Eberle
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: (l-r) Jordan Eberle

With Jordan Eberle finally scoring his first goal with the New York Islanders on the second line this Saturday, fans have once again reached the dilemma of who should skate with the captain, John Tavares. However, Josh Bailey may be the answer we’ve been searching for.

By now, it only feels natural to New York Islanders fans to be faced with a question mark at John Tavares’ wing. Over his tenure with the team, they’ve seen the likes of Matt Moulson to the latest attempt at a fit with newly acquired, Jordan Eberle and have yet to find a player with the right chemistry with the captain.

Last season, there was hope in Andrew Ladd, a free agent signing in the summer of 2016. However, it quickly became clear that the two didn’t feed into one another as management and fans alike had hoped, with Ladd only scoring his first goal as an Islander in November of that same year.

Although it has since been discovered that Ladd was nursing an injury through the first few months of the 2016-2017 season, he soon found himself in the line shuffle, now steadily producing in his role as a second line winger. It now seems that the New York Islanders may be seeing the same story from their newest addition, Jordan Eberle.

Jordan Eberle’s Demotion

While it’s too soon to make any definitive conclusions about Eberle’s permanent place in the team’s line up, he has begun to find his own success on the second line alongside rookie, Mat Barzal. This past Saturday against the Nashville Predators, he not only netted his first but also his second goal as an Islander.

It’s hard to say what will come of this in the long run. Although Eberle did continue his role on the second line in the following game in a 6-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights and remained there during practice, it seems too early to give up on his stint as Tavares’ first line winger. The two weren’t struggling together; Eberle tallied six assists on the first line.  However, he was not finding the back of the net.

Only a month into the season, it’s hasty to demote Eberle for good but scoring depth is never a negative. What the team should strive for is scoring throughout all four lines and if a Barzal-Eberle duo finds the chemistry to put up points, so be it.

Josh Bailey Back On The First Line

This leaves fans again with the question of John Tavares’ wing. It has begun to feel like a never-ending search but the answer may be lying in our own system. Quietly building a seven game point streak, Josh Bailey continues to impress with his increased responsibilities on the team.

The chemistry of the Lee-Tavares-Bailey first line in the 2016-2017 season is undeniable. Earning a career high of 56 points last year, 43 of which were assists, Josh Bailey and his first line quickly became one of the high points of an overwhelmingly negative season.

With Eberle moving to the second line, it only seemed natural for Bailey to return to his spot alongside Tavares. Since then, he has clearly stood out to Isles fans, even managing to change the minds of some nay-sayers.

After his performance last season and what we’ve seen from him so far this year, joining some of league leaders with 14 points already, Isles fans may be seeing the finally fully developed Josh Bailey that was always meant to be John Tavares’ winger.

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While Eberle on the second line was not what most fans were hoping for entering the season, separating such a successful first line seems counterproductive. If this is truly the Josh Bailey we will continue to see shine with John Tavares, he may have found his permanent spot next to the captain. This will give Eberle the chance to work with one of the team’s rising stars, Mat Barzal.