This post is part of Islanders Day on PHT…
Jordan Eberle had a difficult season at times in 2016-17.
Yet he still managed to score 20 goals, hitting that mark for a fourth consecutive season and fifth time in six years. (He put up 34 goals in 2011-12.)
You can understand why having a skilled winger to perhaps play alongside center John Tavares — at least that’s the expectation prior to training camp — would be intriguing for head coach Doug Weight as the new season approaches.
“Jordan, to me, is really, really exciting,” Weight recently told the NHL Network.
Eberle’s first foray into playoff hockey was a struggle, as he recorded only two assists in 13 post-season games and the Oilers made it to the second round.
And that is where Weight’s extended comments get interesting, because it sounds like the 27-year-old forward’s confidence took a bit of a hit during his final campaign in Edmonton and, in particular, during the playoffs, when his offensive production wasn’t there and the public scrutiny intensified.
Several weeks later, Eberle was traded to the Islanders.
“I want him to come in with that eye of the tiger; that fire back that sometimes gets lost,” Weight continued. “It’s tough. You can get cemented in certain roles, you can have some tough times. But Jordan still produced. He’s a helluva talent and I’m excited to get that confidence back in him and excited for him to get here.”
It didn’t take long after the trade for discussions about a possible Eberle-Tavares reunion to begin. Playing for Team Canada, they combined for a thrilling tying goal against Russia in the dying seconds of the 2009 World Juniors semifinal.
One of the Islanders’ top priorities is to get Tavares secured to a new contract, as he enters the final year of his current deal.
Adding a proven scoring winger to Tavares’ line may also help the team’s captain rebound from a season in which his bottom-line production dropped as well, which would certainly boost the Islanders’ chances of getting back to the playoffs.
“[Eberle’s] bringing a right-handed shot as a forward that can obviously shoot and score from anywhere,” Islanders forward Anders Lee recently told NHL.com.
“He’s a playmaker out on the ice and sees the ice extremely well. He can add some extra threats for us on the power play that can really help elevate us.”