He was supposed to be a big part of the New York Islanders top six in 2018-19, but unfortunately, Jordan Eberle wasn’t able to live up to expectation. Until the playoffs at least.
In one he wasn’t any good. He equaled a career low and looked entirely out-of-place. In the latter, he looked like a point-per-game player, scoring seemingly at will. Unfortunately, that latter part was only nine games long while the former was 82 games long.
How does that affect his end of season grade?
Through his previous eight NHL seasons, Eberle scored 50 or more points in all but three seasons.
One was his rookie year where he scored 43 points in 69 games (a pace of 51 points). The second season was the lockout-shortened 2012-13 year. He still managed to score 37 points in 48 games (a pace of 63 points). The third was 2015-16 when he missed 13 games and still scored 47 points (a pace of 56 points).
Going into 2018-19 that 50 point player was expected to show up and again be a big part of the Islanders top six. And for some reason he didn’t. In 78 games, Eberle scored a career-low 37 points.
What happened is about as clear as “why is the sky blue?” We know there’s an answer, we just don’t know what the answer is. We know there’s a reason Eberle just didn’t perform well in the regular season, but no one knows why exactly.
Sure, most of the New York Islanders forwards took a step back in terms of production. But there’s nothing in Eberle’s game that was a glaring problem in this season from the last. He just didn’t seem to fit in Barry Trotz’s system.
Eberle failed to fill a top-six offensive role for the Islanders, and they suffered for it.
But in the playoffs, something changed. It wasn’t the system. Barry Trotz had his team play the same way they played all 82 regular season games. In the playoffs, things just fell into place for Eberle.
He scored nine points in eight games. His performance against the Penguins in round one was perhaps his shining moment. He’d score a goal in each of the four games and add another two helpers as the Islanders swept the Penguins.
Even against the Hurricanes Eberle was productive. The Islanders didn’t score much across four games, but Eberle still had three points in the series. Those three points were tied for the team lead in the series.
Eberle was finally able to find a place in the Barry Trotz system, it only took him 82+ games to figure it out. And when he did, the Islanders seemed unstoppable.
Without that playoff performance, Eberle was certainly looking at a D+/C- grade. With it, he gets a C+.
Sure, he was good in the playoffs. But if he isn’t going to be good in the regular season, who says you even make the playoffs?
The New York Islanders could have used playoff Eberle during the regular season. Heck, Eberle himself could have used playoff Eberle. Because now that he’s a few months away from free agency who knows what could happen.