The New York Islanders added a top-line winger on Thursday afternoon, acquiring Jordan Eberle from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Ryan Strome.
In Eberle, the Islanders bring in a proven offensive talent, a five-time 20-goal scorer who has put together three 60-point seasons with career-highs of 34 goals and 76 points.
"I'm excited," Eberle said. "From a fan of hockey and the game, the Islanders are a storied franchise. There's a lot of winning past there and obviously as part of the team now, I want to bring that back."
The most exciting prospect about joining the Islanders is the potential to play alongside John Tavares. Eberle and Tavares are longtime friends and previously played together at the World Junior Hockey Championship in 2009 and at the World Championships in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
They combined for 28 points in six games before winning gold at the 2009 World Juniors including the assist on Eberle's last-second game-tying goal against Russia in the semi-finals. While that doesn't guarantee future success there's comfort and familiarity between the two. That's a good start when trying to match an elite center with a high-end winger.
"Obviously John is a generational player," Eberle said. "I've had previous chemistry with John. He's a very intelligent player and the way that he plays suits my game. If that's where I end up, our games suit each other well."
Eberle described his hockey sense as one of his top attributes, as well as his finishing ability. He's scored 20 goals in the last five full seasons he's played, but said that his defensive game is improving now that he's transitioning into being a veteran player. He feels he can bring some leadership as well.
"We're excited to add a proven offensive weapon like Jordan to our lineup," Islanders President and General Manager Garth Snow said. "He brings speed and a knack for scoring not only consistently, but scoring big goals, in big games. Jordan brings leadership and experience into our room, qualities that will continue to help us build towards our goals of being a consistent playoff contender and winning the Stanley Cup."
As tight as he and Tavares are, Eberle's Islanders ties run much deeper. He trains with Thomas Hickey, Travis Hamonic and Andrew Ladd in the offseason, and those connections are helping him settle on what he called a whirlwind day.
And after a year of trade rumors, he's happy to be able to turn the page and start a new chapter in a new shade of orange and blue.
"The Islanders are a team where I know a lot of the guys," Eberle said. "They are a tough team to play against and they have a lot of potential. I'm excited to be a part of that and get a fresh new start."