Isles Get Eberle; Rebuild Gets Serious

If Garth Snow intends to rebuild the Islanders in a manner that entices captain John Tavares to re-sign with the club, he’s off to a solid start.

By dealing Ryan Strome to the Edmonton Oilers for Tavares’ (Junior) Team Canada teammate Jordan Eberle, the Islanders’ GM has set off what could be a chain reaction of changes.

In virtually every numerical way, Eberle kayos Strome.

During the recent season, Jordan had seven more goals, 14 more assists and proved much more durable. Eberle played in every Oilers game (82), while oft-injured Strome missed 13.

“I’m super-excited to be a part of the Islanders organization,” said Eberle. “Also grateful for the chance the Oilers gave me coming into the NHL.”

In 2009, the Regina, Saskatchewan native teamed with Tavares helping Team Canada win a Gold Medal at the World Junior Championships.

OTTAWA – DECEMBER 31: Jordan Eberle #14 of Team Canada celebrates his first period goal against Team USA with John Tavares #19 of Team Canada during the IIHF World Junior Championships at the Ottawa Civic Centre. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

“I know a lot of the guys on the Islanders,” Eberle noted. “I played with John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, Thomas Hickey and Travis Hamonic. Having also played against them, I know how tough they can be on the other side.”

Eberle stressed that he’s enthused about “a fresh new start” and praised his pal, Tavares.

“John is a generational player — a leader — and I’m really looking forward to play with him.”

Eberle, 27, scored the game-tying goal against Russia in the semi-finals with five seconds remaining. None other than buddy-teammate Tavares set him up with the gilded pass.

Later in the game, Jordan and John teamed to both score in the shootout which won the contest, sending them to the Gold Medal game.

For some in Islanders Country, it’s hard to curb the enthusiasm over the move.

“We’re excited to add a proven offensive weapon like Jordan to our lineup,” said Snow in a prepared statement. “He brings speed and a knack for scoring, not only consistently, but scoring big goals in big games.

“Also, he brings leadership and experience into our room; qualities that will continue to help us build toward our goals of being a consistent playoff contender and winning the Stanley Cup.”

As for Strome — a first-round pick, fifth overall in 2011 — he failed to achieve the offensive goals many believed possible after his best year (2014-15) when he tallied 50 points (17-33) in 81 games.

After that, the likable Ryan seemed less dependable a forward who avoided the grit game expected from a hoped-for young stud.

Ryan Strome (Credit: AP Images)

Expectations of a Strome trade date back to last season. The evidence was there ever since he was demoted to AHL Bridgeport in his rookie year (2013-14). It happened again in 2015-16.

Management’s hope was that the demotions would increase his motivation to play a more energetic, productive game but the results never were positive enough to convince the general staff that he really had the goods.

By contrast, Eberle brings more to that table both spiritually and arithmetically.

“In my years with Edmonton, I’ve grown both as a person and a player,” Jordan concluded. “I’ve learned to mold my game defensively.

“I have shown that I’ve been a proven goal-scorer in the league, but I knew that a trade was going to come.”

The trick now is to see how the acquisition of Tavares’ chum affects the captain’s decision to sign again in Brooklyn. Certainly, Eberle hopes so.

“I’ve had experience and chemistry with John in the past.”

Snow hopes it continues well into the future.

The Oilers selected Eberle in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2008 National Hockey League Draft. He made his NHL debut in 2010-11 and has been an alternate captain with Edmonton since 2012-13. Eberle scored a career-high 34 goals and 76 points in 2011-12 and was selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

On the international stage, Eberle has represented Canada at five World Championships, winning gold in his most recent tournament in 2015.

All in all, good start for the Isles’ rejuvenation.