The New York Islanders have a crowded forward group, and can’t afford to lose another solid forward for nothing at the end of the year.
With two months before the season even starts, and the trade deadline six months away, how could you possibly think about the New York Islanders trading away Jordan Eberle? Pretty easily actually, you need to have a plan for the future past this year.
As the Islanders sit right now, they’re likely the seventh best team in the Metro, which means no playoffs for the third year in a row. In a year that doesn’t yield a playoff birth, you have to be mindful of the future.
The Isles have a choice to make with Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle becoming UFA’s after the season. Yes, without Tavares you could probably afford both but do you want to lock into two long-term deals that will bring both players to their mid-30’s? Probably not.
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In the past, I made the argument that Eberle should be the one picked, but that was before Tavares left and the Islanders drafted Oliver Wahlstrom. That changes things immensely.
As of right now, the Islanders have five right wingers for four spots, and six if you include Oliver Wahlstrom for 2019-2020. Josh Bailey, Leo Komarov, and Cal Clutterbuck all have multiple years on their deal, which leaves one spot open for Jordan Eberle, Josh Ho-Sang, and Oliver Wahlstrom.
If you’re serious about building a youthful, and exciting team, then Jordan Eberle doesn’t have a place on this team long-term. That’s not to say that he isn’t a good hockey player, that’s far from the truth.
He just has more value as a trade piece than someone who will likely require a seven-year $49 million contract at the end of the year. Ideally, the Islanders 2019-2020 right-wingers are Oliver Wahlstrom, Josh Ho-Sang, Josh Bailey, and Cal Clutterbuck.
Both Ho-Sang and Wahlstrom have high ceilings in this league, especially playing under Barry Trotz. Trotz recently complemented Ho-Sang’s play saying he needs to be a part of their future. Ho-Sang is a dynamic skater who is a half point per game player in 43 games at the NHL level.
Under proper guidance, proper ice time, and adequate linemates, Ho-Sang should be a 50 point player at the NHL level.
Then there’s Wahlstrom, who should be ready to go by 2019-2020. Wahlstrom is a dynamic goal scorer who should be a 30-40 goal scorer very quickly. Wahlstrom and Ho-Sang’s game’s are similar to Eberle’s in the sense that they’re more finesse, while Lee uses his body to dominate. In order to prevent too much similarity to the Islanders lines sticking with Lee over Eberle seems to make more sense.
Instead of just letting Eberle walk at the end of the year, the Islanders should be looking to move him via trade. His value is high as a perennial 25 goal scorer who can hit in the high 50’s to low 60’s in points.
At the deadline, teams are always willing to overpay. Last year, Tomas Tatar, who is a far inferior player to Jordan Eberle yielded a first, second and third-round pick. Granted, Tatar has three more years on his deal but even so we can look at rentals too getting huge returns.
Evander Kane got a return of a first round pick, a fourth-round pick, and a depth forward on an expiring contract. Even if the Islanders are still in it they should make this move to get back at minimum a first-round pick and a prospect.
I fully expect Lou Lamoriello to be a lot more active at the deadline, unlike Garth Snow, and moving Eberle would be the smart play no matter where you are in the standings.