EDMONTON, Alberta — Jordan Eberle’s return to Edmonton, where he spent seven seasons, was big news here before Thursday night’s Islanders-Oilers game at Rogers Place.
But it also was a significant event in the life of the flip side of the trade that sent Eberle to the Islanders last June.
“It’s definitely weird, but at the same time it’s kind of exciting,” Ryan Strome said of facing his old friends and teammates.
Strome, 24, was drafted by the Islanders in 2011 and spent four seasons with them. He said when the Oilers visited Brooklyn on Nov. 7 the move was recent enough that he felt as much like an Islander as an Oiler. But no longer.
“It was definitely really weird, I think just because it was at the beginning of the season,” he said before Thursday’s game. “Obviously, things were pretty fresh, and those friends you have, it feels like you’re almost part of the team still.
“So I saw those guys and there was a lot of emotion, but I think now things have kind of changed for me and now it’s kind of settled in.”
Entering Thursday night, Strome was fifth on the Oilers in scoring with 31 points. Off the ice, the native of suburban Toronto said experiencing life on a Canada-based team has been eye-opening.
“As a kid growing up, it’s nice to see that Canadian passion,” he said. “I mean, the Islanders have a very passionate fan base, but there’s something about a Canadian city, right? So it’s kind of cool to have that. The spotlight is good and bad. I think it depends how you take it.
“Some people might take it negatively, but if you use it to your advantage and are positive and try to have fun with it, I think that’s the most important thing. It’s been good. I’ve enjoyed my time here, a lot of good guys and we have a pretty good time at the rink every day, and that’s what it’s all about.”
One adjustment is the greater media scrutiny, which Strome said is not a big deal for him on a team featuring the likes of superstar Connor McDavid.
“If anything, it’s just the volume of media that guys might not be used to,” he said. “Just the amount of questions and cameras is different for me, at least, but other than that hockey’s hockey and media’s media.”
Weight impressed with Oilers’ arena
Doug Weight spent nine seasons as an Oiler, all at the old Northlands Coliseum, which last season gave way to the palatial Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton.
So while Weight is nostalgic for the old place — as he is for Nassau Coliseum as a former Islander — that only goes so far.
“They did such a good job that I thought I would be a little more saddened when I got in it last year, but it’s such a beautiful place,” he said of Rogers Place. “The (Northlands) Coliseum, I mean, it’s a lot like Nassau . . . It’s an amazing symmetry between the two in my mind.
“But what they did with this building, I have trouble complaining about it. You always think of your last time at the old (Northlands) Coliseum, but the memories are there, and they built a special thing, as expected.”
Barzal concerned about Boeser
Less than a week ago, Mathew Barzal was answering several days’ worth of questions about his Calder Trophy showdown with the Canucks’ Brock Boeser.
Then, with 27 seconds left in regulation time Monday night, Boeser’s lower back crashed into an open gate on the Canucks’ bench and he was lost for the rest of the regular season with a small fracture.
“Honestly, that was a scary hit,” Barzal said. “I saw his arm holding his back there. I didn’t know what was going on . . . It was tough to watch, tough to look at it. I’m hoping he’ll be back better than ever. He’ll have a great season next year.”