With a lackluster season in 2016-17, it had been rumored for some time and finally happened on Thursday morning. Jordan Eberle was traded to the New York Islanders for Ryan Strome. This deal seems to center more around the fact that the Edmonton Oilers wanted to move salary, get a useful player at a lower cap hit in return and make room for future transactions. The Islanders were clearly looking to upgrade their offense and find a winger for John Tavares.
With the NHL's newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights, clearly in the mood to help teams out with their cap issues, the Islanders offloaded salary to the expansion franchise and as such, Islanders' general manager Garth Snow was free to make a splash on Thursday. The rumors were he'd be going for one or both of Matt Duchene or Eberle. It happened almost exactly as predicted.
For the Oilers, the priority was getting both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on long-term extensions. McDavid was already projected to become one of the highest-paid players in the NHL, but after sweeping the NHL Awards on Wednesday night, the Oilers were facing the possibility that it might cost north of $17 million, maybe as high as $20 million per year for the two players. Eberle's $6 million salary over the next two seasons was problematic in that regard.
On the other end of the deal is forward Ryan Strome. At 23 years old, he was the fifth-overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. Strome has played a total of 258 NHL games in the NHL, posting 45 goals and adding 81 assists for 126 points. In 15 career playoff games for the Islanders, Strome has three goals and five assists.
Strome offers a willingness to go to the tough areas of the ice, hit and play a more rugged style of game than did Eberle. The Oilers will like his grit and determination as well as his ability to play either winger or center. Strome was left unprotected in the NHL Expansion Draft, but one has to assume part of the Vegas and Islanders trade dealings at the draft centered partially around Strome staying with the Islanders so they could then trade him to Edmonton.
This summer appears to be all about moving salary around the NHL. The Oilers and Islanders accomplished that with the optics that made this trade a reality. Eberle is a first-line player on most teams and he likely will be with the Islanders. They are banking he rebounds, getting back to form and scoring 60-plus points. Strome is younger and useful forward and Edmonton now has money to make critical moves. While not necessarily a "hockey trade", it appears to be a good trade for both teams.