With Anders Lee becoming the New York Islanders 15th captain in team history, what does that mean for fellow pending unrestricted free agent Jordan Eberle?
It’s happy days for Anders Lee. He’s the New York Islanders newest captain. The Isles 40 goal scorer from last year deserved the honor. He’s a vocal presence, he’s responsible and accountable (two key factors for new management) and he leaves it all on the ice.
With only a year left on his contract Anders Lee is months away from being eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. The team must be comfortable in negotiations with their new captain to give him the captaincy.
Who might feel a certain unease from the news is fellow pending UFA Jordan Eberle. In terms of the Islanders valuable and tradable assets Jordan Eberle is now at the top of the list.
It’s Not About Money
If the Islanders wanted to keep both Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle they absolutely could. Going into 2019-2020 the New York Islanders have 14 players under contract with a projected $47.5 million cap hit and $31.8 million in projected cap space.
If the Islanders gave both Eberle and Lee $7 million a year that’s only an extra $4.25 million hit. They could get both under contract and still have plenty of room – approximately $27.5 million – to fill out the rest of the roster.
If the New York Islanders trade Jordan Eberle at the trade deadline, it won’t be because they couldn’t afford to keep him. It’s because they were able to pick up what they needed to round-out the roster.
And it’s not because Jordan Eberle is some sort of bad player. He’s good. He put up 59 points in 2017-18 and could very well repeat that in 2018-19, even if he isn’t playing with Barzal at 5on5.
The Islanders have a number of promising prospects in the system at right-wing. Josh Ho-Sang is in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers even though he should be playing in the NHL right now.
Oliver Wahlstrom, the New York Islanders eleventh overall pick in the 2018 draft is playing in the NCAA this season, but he should be ready for the NHL by 2019-20 as well.
Trading Jordan Eberle not only opens the door for one of these youngsters, but it also allows the Islanders to try and pick up something they need somewhere else on the roster.
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With the type of season that the New York Islanders are projected to have it was clear that the Isles would try to move at least one of their valuable UFAs at the deadline. By giving Anders Lee the ‘C’, the New York Islanders have clearly indicated who they’re going to keep.