There is a history between the two talented forwards that famously dates back to the 2009 World Juniors.
Back then, the draft-eligible Tavares was expected to go No. 1 overall in a few months time. Eberle was a first-round pick from the year before. It was Tavares shoveling a backhand shot toward the net and Eberle scooping up the puck and putting it behind the Russian goalie in the final seconds of regulation to send the semifinal game into overtime.
It’s one of the iconic moments in Canadian World Juniors history.
They will be reunited with the Islanders, and potentially on the same line, in order to give Tavares a scoring winger.
“From me, you have to be confident in your ability and confident that you can be in a top-six role. I think I’ve shown in the past that I can score in this league and I’ve had previous chemistry with John,” said Eberle, who scored 20 goals and 51 points for the Oilers this past season.
“Obviously, he’s a very intelligent player and the way that he plays suits my game. Maybe, if that’s where I end up, our games suit each other well.”
Eberle goes from a team that had Connor McDavid, the 2017 Hart Trophy winner, to Tavares, the first overall pick in 2009, an Olympian, and a player with two 80-plus point seasons under his belt.
They are both, as Eberle said, generational players. But with two totally different styles on the ice.
“I think you look at their attributes as players. I think Connor, the first one that sticks out to mind, is his speed. He’s maybe one of the fastest guys with the puck and you have to be able to keep up with that,” said Eberle. “John thinks the game, maybe, better than any other player in the league.
“Each does his thing in their own way, but gets the job done. For me, it’s more of, in my mind, to get ready to the best ability that I can to get into camp and hopefully fit in.”