When the Islanders acquired Jordan Eberle from the Oilers in June, it was expected that he'd play alongside former World Juniors and World Championship teammate John Tavares.
Instead, Eberle has linked up with rookie Mathew Barzal on the second line and the results have been better than the team could have expected.
"They've been tremendous this season, you can see their chemistry and their ability to feed off one another," Tavares said, via Cory Wright of the Isles official site. "Their games compliment each other really well. Knowing Ebs from our time in junior, it's amazing how quick his hands are, how smart he is out there and he's got a great release both forehand and backhand, so he's always a threat."
Barzal leads the team with 69 points (18 G, 51 A) while Eberle's 23 goals rank third for the Islanders.
"He's super easy to play with," Barzal said. "Top end skill in the NHL. I love playing with him."
Off the ice, the pair has formed a bond. Despite Barzal being seven years younger than Eberle, the two have hit it off.
"We're not hanging out all day long, but he's one of my best friends on the team," Barzal said. "I have a really good relationship with him, I go to his house every once in a while and hang out. He's kind of a younger soul."
Eberle and Barzal will hope to end the Islanders' eight-game skid on Sunday against the Flames at 7 p.m.