The New York Islanders have been a pleasant surprise so far this season for the blue and orange faithful. The Isles brass needs to make some big calls on a number of potential unrestricted free agents and one of them is Jordan Eberle. Mark it down, he will be traded in early 2019.
Almost every NHL insider predicted gloom and doom for the New York Islanders this season. Going into Sunday’s action the Isles have performed well above expectations by going 15-12-4.
However, the last few weeks scoring goals have been a major issue for the Isles. One of the reasons the Isles offense is struggling so much is because Jordan Eberle is off to a very tough start.
Eberle had a really good first season with the Islanders last season, posting 25 Goals, 59 Points, along with a +5 plus-minus. This season has been a different story for Eberle as he has struggled under Barry Trotz’s system.
The former Edmonton Oiler current stat line is 6 Goals, 13 Points, along with a dismal -12 plus-minus. Also, consider how much the Isles power play has struggled so far this season (ranked 26th – 14.4% entering Sunday) and Eberle hasn’t made much of an impact there as well.
Eberle becomes a UFA at season’s end. He will turn 29 in May and currently carries a cap number of $6 million.
Lou Lamoriello has to decide soon if he wants to extend Eberle past this year or move him for future assets. By moving Eberle in early 2019 Lou would also free up quite a bit of cap space that he can use this off-season either via a trade or free agency.
When you evaluate Eberle’s age, potential cap number, production, and him being a fit on a Trotz team, Lou’s decision is an easy one. Eberle must be moved.
In terms of trade value for Eberle, the Isles are probably looking at a draft pick (2nd rounder?) and a prospect (not a blue-chipper).
Sooner Rather Than Later
The Isles are going to want to get a look at some of their young forwards in Bridgeport in the second half of the season. Josh Ho-Sang (26 Games, 2 Goals, 22 Points in Bridgeport) is now up with the big club and we will have to see what he can bring to the table.
Michael Dal Colle and Kieffer Bellows both deserve a major look as well. Dal Colle (5th overall, 2014 Draft) has shined this year in the AHL (14 Goals, 23 Points, 23 Games). After a slow start, Bellows (19th overall, 2016 Draft) has started to get it going (7 Goals, 12 Points, 28 Games).
Remember Bellows had a strong training camp and made an argument for himself that he should have made the opening night roster.
It’s a no-brainer for Lou, Trotz, and the front office on what they have to do regarding Eberle.