Islanders RW Jordan Eberle took the ice for the first time with a handful of his Islanders teammates on Tuesday, and said he feels rejuvenated by a change of scenery.
"I needed a fresh start, to get some change," Eberle, who was traded to the Islanders on toldNewsday's Art Staple. "I'm happy to be where they want me, to get an opportunity, and I think this summer was one of the better ones I've had getting ready for an NHL season."for Ryan Strome,
And while most assume Eberle will get first crack at a spot on C John Tavares' wing, LW Josh Bailey's career year in 2016-17 could certainly act as a case for him remaining on his captain's flank.
"I'm all for winning, whatever makes this team better," Bailey told Staple. "That's what we're all focused on. Everyone here knows, wherever they put me I'll go out and give it my all, hopefully contribute the same way I did last year."
I think everyone assumes Eberle will get the first crack at the first line, and he probably should. I know Bailey was incredible there last season, as he posted a career-best in assists and points, but Eberle is the pure goal scorer that the Islanders have always lacked to pair with Tavares. JT and Eberle are so close off the ice that I think Doug Weight has to see what the chemistry is like before just defaulting to Bailey.
Plus, I think dropping Josh down the lineup could help sure up some of the Islanders' secondary lines. The Isles are going to usually dominate the attempts when John Tavares is on the ice. The problem is usually when he isn't. So if Bailey's defense can help down on another line, it could stabilize what was a really awful possession team last year, even when they got hot in the second half. If the Isles can do that, then it could be a much more fun season in Brooklyn this year.