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Eberle agrees to five-year contract with Islanders

Forward could have been unrestricted free agent July 1

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

Jordan Eberle agreed to terms on a five-year contract to remain with the New York Islanders on Friday. No financial terms were disclosed.

The 29-year-old forward has played the past two seasons with New York after being acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers for forward Ryan Strome on June 22, 2017. Eberle could have become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Selected by Edmonton in the first round (No. 22) of the 2008 NHL Draft, Eberle has 478 points (209 goals, 269 assists) in 666 regular-season games with the Islanders and Oilers, and 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 21 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"The negotiations didn't really start until the end of the year," Eberle said Friday. "I like obviously the coaches, the GM. I liked where their mindset was at. I was really happy with the way I was playing and wanted to pursue that for a full year. I found my niche within the team. I obviously talked to [general manager] Lou [Lamoriello] at the end of the year and really focused on trying to get something done. I really liked the team, the guys. My wife and I love it there. It just made sense.

"You need a place that you feel comfortable in with your family as far as living, and then you need a place that supports your hockey team. Long Island has both."

Playing in more of a defense-first system under coach Barry Trotz this season, Eberle had 37 points (19 goals, 18 assists) in 78 games with the Islanders (48-27-7), who were second in the Metropolitan Division, after finishing with 59 points (25 goals, 34 assists) in 2017-18. He had nine points (four goals, five assists) in eight games during the playoffs, helping New York advance to the Eastern Conference Second Round. Eberle scored in four straight games during a sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round.

Video: NYI@PIT, Gm3: Eberle snipes wrister from tough angle

Five of Eberle's 19 regular-season goals were scored in New York's final seven games. He didn't score his fifth goal of the season until Nov. 13 and went 10 games without a goal from Nov. 24-Dec. 15.

"I think if you look at my year, it was definitely up and down," Eberle said. "Obviously, it wasn't a great start. It wasn't until maybe February that I really got it going, and, I thought anyways, took my game to another level and into the playoffs. It was really from that moment on I really wanted to try and get something done and be a part of the Islanders. I liked what we had going."

Trotz, a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, given to the man voted NHL coach of the year, was Eberle's eighth coach in nine NHL seasons; he had six in seven seasons with the Oilers, and Trotz replaced Doug Weight as Islanders coach on June 21, 2018. Eberle said the stability in New York played a role in his decision to stay.

"The way that our team plays in general, we're very defensive-minded," Eberle said. "When you're winning games like that, it's fun. But you have to learn how to play that way, and it maybe took a little bit of time. But once I found it, things started to get a lot better and we were obviously winning games.

"For me, I haven't gone many years without having the same coach two years in a row. It's nice coming back with some stability and some familiarity and somewhere where I can pick [up] where we kind of left off last year. I haven't really had that. My first year with the Islanders, obviously Doug was there, and in Edmonton we had a handful of coaches. That definitely played a factor too."

The Islanders have two remaining important potential unrestricted free agents, forward Anders Lee, their captain, and goalie Robin Lehner. Center Brock Nelson, who could have been an unrestricted free agent, agreed to terms on a six-year contract on May 23.

"Anders is on his own path," Eberle said of Lee, who led New York this season with 28 goals. "No one can really blame him for taking his time or going to free agency. He's earned the right to that. I know in his mind he loves Long Island. He's our captain and he's a great guy. Ultimately, it'll be his decision. I support whatever he does. It's obviously going to be a tough decision either way."

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