The New York Islanders have acquired winger Jordan Eberle from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for center Ryan Strome, the teams announced Thursday. The trade finally gives New York a high-end winger to pair with center John Tavares on its top line next season.
The Islanders have reportedly been working hard all offseason to add more talent around Tavares, who could become an unrestricted free agent next year. They’re hoping a better team will convince him to re-sign, and GM Garth Snow has been aggressive in making that happen.
New York already traded a first-round pick and second-round pick to the Golden Knights in order to shed the final year of Mikhail Grabovski’s contract. Now it’ll be using all of those savings to pay for Eberle, who has a $6 million cap hit for the next two seasons before he hits free agency.
Eberle is the third prominent Oilers forward traded in the past two years, following in footsteps of Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov, who were both traded last offseason. Edmonton hasn’t been shy about reworking its entire forward corps now that Connor McDavid is the cornerstone.
Taken 22nd overall in 2008, Eberle wasn’t as high a pick as Hall or Yakupov. He showed remarkable promise in his second season when he notched 34 goals and 76 points in 78 games, but hasn’t been able to sustain that level of production. After a 20-goal campaign and no goals in 13 playoff games, Edmonton decided to move on.
The Oilers wanted to clear some cap space by moving Eberle’s deal, and getting Strome in return allows them to do that. The No. 5 overall pick from the 2011 NHL entry draft has one year at a $2.5 million cap hit remaining on his deal before he hits restricted free agency in 2018.
Strome is coming off a campaign in which he recorded 13 goals and 17 assists in 69 games. He’s struggled to live up to the hype of being a top-five overall pick, but he’s the kind of solid two-way center that Edmonton was hoping to acquire in exchange for Eberle.
The Islanders also have to be thrilled to get a prime scorer to help convince Tavares to stay in New York. Eberle has averaged over 27 goals per 82 games over the past six seasons. Paired with an elite center like Tavares, the Islanders should have a fierce No. 1 scoring line next season.