The New York Islanders have re-signed the second unrestricted free agent of this off-season: right-wing Jordan Eberle. While it’s surprising that he was re-signed before Lee and Lehner, that’s just half of it.

On Friday, June 14, the Islanders re-signed Jordan Eberle to a five-year deal at $27.5 million. That’s $5.5 million per year in cap hit and far less than his previous contract which was a six-year deal at $36 million. The Islanders inherited his previous contract from the Edmonton Oilers in the Strome-Eberle trade before the 2017-18 season.

The right winger is clearly eager to remain with the Islanders and Barry Trotz. After the announcement of his new contract, he told media that free agency was the last resort. He also waited to begin negotiations until after the season was over, most likely so not to divide his focus from the team’s success.

According to Shannon Hogan, Eberle loves how tight-knit the Islanders are, saying they are the closest teammates he’s ever played with. He also praised the stability and familiarity that Trotz and Lou Lamoriello brought to the Island.

“I obviously talked to Lou at the end of the year and really focused on trying to get something done,” he explained. “I really liked the team, the guys. My wife and I love it there. It just made sense… You talk to a lot of people who have played on Long Island, they all say the same thing. It’s a great community. Fans love their hockey. They’re passionate about it.”

As previously discussed on Islanders Nation, Eberle was not one of the pending unrestricted free agents that most fans were anxious to re-sign. Although the franchise is short on right-wingers, he had a disappointing 2018-19 season, scoring just 19 goals and 18 assists. His line simply would not click consistently throughout the year. It left fans angry, wondering if he just didn’t fit in the new regime and hoping to sign a better winger from free agency who would.

Yet in Eberle’s two years with the Isles, he has been a relatively high-scorer, consistent in his first year, which is exactly why the Islanders traded for him. Overall, he’s played 159 games for the Island and accumulated 96 points (44 goals, 52 assists). He finally found a groove this season in the playoffs series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring 4 goals and 5 assists.

Between Eberle’s playoffs performance, the pay cut he willingly took to remain on Long Island, and his commitment to the Island, Trotz, and Lamoriello, Eberle has shown real character and given the fans new hope for the future.

“I’m not a young buck anymore,” Eberle said. “I’m 29. Definitely winning becomes more of a priority… In my mind, I like the direction the Islanders are going… I think we have as good a chance as any team, in my mind.”

Eberle’s comments also echoed those of Nelson back in May during the center’s own re-signing, proving that Trotz and Lamoriello have truly turned the New York Islanders around in just one season: from the Metropolitan Division’s laughingstock into a real destination for free agents who want to play for a fun and successful Stanley Cup-contention team.

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