The New York Islanders enter this off-season with a number of open items on their plate. Two of which is, do the Isles sign Anders Lee and or Jordan Eberle long-term.
While all the talk currently about the New York Islanders is about whether or not John Tavares will resign (understandably so), ownership and the front office also need to formulate a plan on a number of other key issues as well.
Both Lee and Eberle are signed through next season, 2018-19. After next season both will become unrestricted free agents.
Lee And Eberle
Lee was a late-round gem (6th round – 152nd overall in 2009 NHL Draft) for the Isles. The 6’3, 231 lbs winger out of Notre Dame put up his best season last year, posting 40 goals and 62 points (both career highs). In fact, over the last two years in the regular season, only four players have scored more goals than Lee (Alexander Ovechkin, Patrik Laine, Nikita Kucherov, and Evgeni Malkin).
Eberle came over in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers last June for Ryan Strome. After a slow start, Eberle was one of the Isles top performers in 2017-18, posting 25 goals and 59 points, as well as a plus-five rating. Not many players on the Isles roster this past season could say they had a plus rating.
The Islanders can sign both Lee and Eberle to extensions as of July 1st, 2018.
Sign Them, But…
Regardless of whether or not Tavares stays both Lee and Eberle should be re-signed unless their contract requests are outlandish. The Isles cannot go into another season with two key players heading towards unrestricted free agency.
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While everyone and his brother have been critical of the Isles not trading Tavares when they couldn’t get him signed to a contract last summer, yours truly can understand their thinking. Tavares is the face of the franchise and in his prime. Trading him last summer or during the season was not a winning situation. The Isles decided to bet on themselves and we will have to see if that wager pays off.
Having said that Lee and Eberle are not Tavares. The front office and ownership should be aggressive in signing both forwards. If they can’t be signed by early summer then both players must be moved this off-season.
Eberle’s current contract is with a $6 million annual cap hit. His new contract should be in the same ballpark, getting him signed to a long-term deal will be all about the years of the contract. That could range anywhere from five to seven years.
Lee is a bit more complicated. Based on his production the last few years (has scored at least 25 goals, three of the last four years) the Minnesota native will get a huge raise (current cap number $3.75 million). To resign Lee this summer it will take an extension worth between $50 – $60 million.
The Isles ownership and front office need to have a smart, aggressive plan for both Lee and Eberle so they can act immediately come July 1st. being indecisive or taking a wait and see approach is not an option.