The New York Islanders re-signed Jordan Eberle to a five-year deal worth a $5.5M AAV today. It’s a bit surprising, seeing as though many players would opt to look for a fresh start after a down year, despite Eberle's playoff performance.
Eberle is coming off a year which saw him score just 19 goals and 37 points in 78 games, tying for the least points of any season in his career (and note that in 2012-13, the season in which he also scored 37 points, he did it in 30 less games).
Despite the rough year though, this looks to be an excellent deal for the Islanders. His deal comes with a reasonable term, the same length of James van Riemsdyk’s deal that was signed last offseason at the same age. Usually if the term is decent that means the money value is higher than it should be but Lou Lamoriello managed to keep that down as well. At $5.5M per year, the Islanders took a smart gamble while Eberle's value is at an all-time low that he'll bounce back next year.
Eberle is usually good for 50-60 points and that’s what you should expect him to produce for at least the next two or three years. Even after that though, $5.5M is a low enough number that with the cap continuing to rise, it’s going to be even less significant in a few years. Another surprising factor in this deal is that you have to expect Eberle could have gotten more on the market. The deal was very reasonable and you have to think a few teams in need of a winger capable of Eberle’s production would have been willing to take a bigger gamble.
In signing Eberle, the Islanders have some secondary scoring locked down but have by no means put their chances of signing a big-name free agent in jeopardy. With the deal, Lamoriello has cut his number of key free agents to sign in half, with Eberle and Brock Nelson off the board and Anders Lee and Robin Lehner still without contracts. You do have to wonder how it will effect the Anders Lee contract though, who will be the same age as Eberle heading into next season. Though Lamoriello has given out too much AAV and term to some depth players, he’s still kept the AAV down to $6M or below on every contract. So if Lee is looking for big money and term, especially after seeing how reasonable Eberle's deal is, it might be more likely that Lee heads to free agency.
Regardless though, the Islanders took a calculated risk bringing Eberle back on a reasonable deal that could benefit the team in a big way.