The Islanders’ top line of captain Anders Lee, center Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle are impending unrestricted free agents, and the NHL trade deadline is just a week away. But given that the team is leading the Metropolitan Division and is second overall in the Eastern Conference, the three forwards expect to be part of the playoff push, even if there’s little to report toward new deals.
“I’ve been in situations where maybe I thought there was a chance [to be traded],” said Eberle, in his second season with the Islanders and in the last season of a six-year, $36 million deal he signed with the Oilers. “This year, with the way the team has been playing, we’re a pretty strong group together and I can’t imagine. But you never know.”
The Islanders (35-17-6), who matched their win total from last season with Saturday night’s 5-2 win over the Oilers at Barclays Center, did not practice Sunday. They will open a three-game Western Canada swing Wednesday night in Calgary.
The trade deadline is next Monday, and there has been league-wide speculation that president and general manager Lou Lamoriello could be aggressive in his moves. That includes reportedly speaking to the Senators about center Matt Duchene, one of the elite rental players available.
“The way the team is going right now, there’s not too much noise about it,” Nelson said of the atmosphere in the Islanders’ dressing room. “Everybody wants to just keep going out and playing hockey.”
Nelson is playing on a one-year, $4.25 million deal.
“Obviously, it’s a business, but I don’t think anybody is talking about that or anticipating being elsewhere,” he said.
Lee was named to succeed former captain John Tavares, who left via free agency for a seven-year, $77 million deal with the Maple Leafs. He has maintained since the start of the season that he expects to remain with the Islanders.
When asked again Saturday, he said nothing has changed in that regard.
“Things are still good,” said Lee, in the last season of a four-year, $15 million deal. “There’s nothing to be worried about at this point. It still needs to get done and all that stuff. But there’s nothing that’s worried from either side. Status quo.”
Lee was pressed as to whether there has been progress in any contract negotiations.
“It’s continued on the same path, and things are good,” he said.
He also repeated his belief that he will be with the Islanders for the long term.
“That’s been my expectation from the get-go, and that’s definitely not changed at all,” he said.
The Islanders’ other impending UFAs include goalie Robin Lehner (one year, $1.5 million), center Valtteri Filppula (one year, $2.75 million), forward Tom Kuhnhackl (one year, $700,000) and defenseman Luca Sbisa (one year, $1.5 million).