When the New York Islanders return on February 1, Barry Trotz should swap Jordan Eberle and Josh Bailey on the first two lines.
After a slow start to the season, Jordan Eberle has begun to heat up for the New York Islanders. In his last 10 games, he has four goals and six points. Eberle, who is a UFA at the end of the year, is getting hot at the perfect time.
While many, including myself, thought trading him midseason would be the move, the Islanders have since shocked the hockey world with a first place appearance at the All-Star break.
With a trade unlikely now, it would be in the Islanders best interest to move Eberle up to the Barzal line. Using Natural Stat Trick’s WOWY tool, it looks like Jordan Eberle is better this year when on the ice with Mathew Barzal.
When they’re on the ice together, Eberle has a 51.06 CF% while posting a 46.95 without Barzal. In addition to that, he also has a better SH% (shots on goal for percentage), 52.29 versus 46.10.
Keep in mind, last year while playing with Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier the Islanders had one of the most productive second lines in the game. Eberle finished the season with 25 goals and 59 points playing a majority of it with Mathew Barzal.
The Beauvillier – Barzal – Eberle trio seems like the best line to get the most out of each one of those guys.
On the contrary, don’t think of this as a demotion for Josh Bailey, who has been just fine this year. Bailey is on pace for 62 points this year, but he seems to be better suited playing with Anders Lee than he does with Mathew Barzal.
Just last year, the Islanders had one of the most productive top lines in the game and Anders Lee and Josh Bailey made up two-thirds of that line. While Brock Nelson is obviously a step down from John Tavares, Nelson can still hold his own as a productive center.
Both Lee and Bailey are on pace for 62 points with the Islanders this season, pairing him off with Brock Nelson who is on pace for a career-high 52 points seems like a wise move. Again, it’s not moving Bailey away from Barzal because he doesn’t deserve to be there, it’s because he would be better suited playing with Lee and Nelson.
The Islanders have over a week before their next game, which is rather upsetting, but it’s something to think about for when this team returns to action on February 1.