Forward Jordan Eberle, a five-time 20-goal scorer, will get a fresh start after he was traded to the New York Islanders by the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday for forward Ryan Strome.
Eberle had played his entire NHL career with the Oilers, who chose him in the first round (No. 22) of the 2008 NHL Draft.
"Obviously, this is a first experience for me," Eberle said. "It's been a bit of a whirlwind day. It's something I've never gone through before, and it's a different experience but something I definitely knew would eventually come. For me right now, I'm very excited to be a New York Islander."
Eberle, 27, had 51 points (20 goals, 31 assists) in 82 games with the Oilers this season. He had two assists in 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games; it was the first time he competed in the NHL postseason. Eberle has 382 points (165 goals, 217 assists) in 507 games since making his NHL debut on Oct. 7, 2010. His best season was 2011-12, when he had 76 points (34 goals, 42 assists).
"We're excited to add a proven offensive weapon like Jordan to our lineup," Islanders 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."
Eberle is entering the fifth year of a six-year, $36 million contract (average annual value $6 million), according to CapFriendly.com, and can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season.
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Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli said the move frees up money for other signings.
"No secret we've got to clear up some space to sign both Connor [McDavid] and Leon [Draisaitl]," Chiarelli said. "There are times that these deals come about and you have to act on them, and we just felt it would improve our team."
McDavid is entering the final season of his three-year, entry-level contract. Draisaitl, who was second on the Oilers with 77 points (29 goals, 48 assists) can become a restricted free agent July 1.
Chiarelli said Strome should fit in well with Edmonton.
"You've got a player like Ryan who hasn't put up the numbers like Jordan, but he's got some things to his game that we feel could help us in our division. He's got good size, he's got a terrific wrist shot. He's a very, very cerebral player. He can play center or the wing, very good on the half wall. These are all some of the things that Jordan has, but when we can save some [salary] cap space going forward, we're going to have to do it. That's the reality of building a team these days. It was a good fit from a hockey perspective, it was a good fit from a team-building and cap perspective."
Eberle will likely begin training camp in September on the Islanders' top line alongside center John Tavares, who has one year remaining on his contract.
"We've played together at the World Juniors when we were a lot younger," Eberle said. "We've played at World Championships together. Obviously, John is a generational player and a guy who thinks the game at a very high level and he's obviously the leader of that team. I'm excited to hopefully get an opportunity to get a chance to play with him and hopefully bring some success to the Islanders.
Video: Isles, Oilers swap Ryan Strome and Jordan Eberle
"It's kind of been rumored I guess for the last year now, and to kind of have it done with, I'm excited. The Islanders are a team where I know a lot of the guys. I've trained with [defenseman] Thomas Hickey, I've played with John Tavares and Andrew Ladd and [Travis] Hamonic as well. I'm excited to be a part of that and get a fresh, new start here."
Strome, 23, was taken by the Islanders in the first round (No. 5) of the 2011 NHL Draft. He joined them midway through the 2013-14 season and had his best offensive season in 2014-15, finishing with 50 points (17 goals, 33 assists) in 81 games. Strome had 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 69 games this season and has 126 points (45 goals, 81 assists) in 258 NHL regular-season games, and eight points (three goals, five assists) in 15 playoff games.
Strome has one year remaining on a two-year, $5 million contract ($2.5 million average annual value), according to CapFriendly.com, and can become a restricted free agent on July 1, 2018.
"Super excited, honestly," said Strome, who is in Chicago for the 2017 NHL Draft, where his brother Matthew Strome is expected to be selected. "I was at a loss for words. Other than the emotional aspect of missing some teammates and stuff like that, I couldn't be more excited for the new opportunity.
"Obviously, a lot of great things going on in Edmonton, so just from watching them in the playoffs this year, I'm really ecstatic about joining the group."
Strome will go from playing with Tavares to McDavid, who on Wednesday won the Hart Trophy as the NHL most valuable player after leading the League in scoring with 100 points (30 goals, 70 assists). McDavid played with Ryan's brother Dylan Strome with Erie of the Ontario Hockey League.
"He's been at my house a bunch of times; him and my brother are very close," Ryan Strome said of McDavid. "He reached out to me already. He's a great kid, I know him. Obviously, if not the best player in the League, [he's] right up there. Obviously, the connection is pretty cool. It's always nice knowing a couple of familiar faces."