The Devils appear on the verge of trading Taylor Hall, and there’s certainly a bit of a drool factor imagining what it would be like having the former Hart Trophy winner rushing up ice alongside Mathew Barzal, the Islanders’ elite playmaker.
Most likely, that will be an image limited to fantasy. The marketing-driven Devils are unlikely to deal their superstar left wing to another New York-area team, even as a rental.
Up to six teams reportedly are engaged in trade talks with the Devils — it’s unclear whether the Islanders are in the mix — but the consensus is the most likely destination for Hall is a Western Conference team.
As this concerns the Islanders, who did not practice on Sunday after pushing their winning streak to three games with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Sabres on Saturday afternoon at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, it would seem their most immediate avenue for increased scoring on the wing comes from Hall’s former Oilers teammate, Jordan Eberle.
Eberle extended his point streak to three games (one goal, three assists) on Saturday with a third-period score off Brock Nelson’s feed that put the Islanders ahead 2-1.
“I feel like the last seven, eight games, I’m really starting to feel my game,” Eberle said. “First and foremost, I’m feeling healthy.”
He missed 10 games from Oct. 14 to Nov. 7 with an ankle injury and had only two assists in his first nine games back in the lineup.
“When you come back from an injury, you’re a little rusty and you’re hurting a little bit,” said Eberle, who has three goals and nine assists in 21 games. “You’re playing through it. Now it’s starting to feel better. I’m starting to feel some confidence and the puck is going in.”
President and general manager Lou Lamoriello certainly invested in more point production than the 12 points Eberle has when they agreed on a five-year, $27.5 million extension.
Eberle had a disappointing 19 goals and 18 assists in 78 games last season, his second with the Islanders after former general manager Garth Snow fleeced former Oilers counterpart Peter Chiarelli in a straight-up deal for Ryan Strome, now with the Rangers.
But Eberle finished strong with six goals in the season’s final 11 games, then scored a goal in each game of the Islanders’ first-round sweep of the Penguins. He had four goals and three assists in eight postseason games.
So that’s the hope for the Islanders now: that the streaky Eberle again is heating up.
“If you look back, probably the last eight, 10 games, he’s been scoring pretty regularly,” coach Barry Trotz said. “You see what he can do in the offensive zone and how he complements different players on our roster.”
Trotz has started Eberle and Anders Lee on Derick Brassard’s third line the past five games, though that may change if right wing Michael Dal Colle, who left Saturday’s game in the first period with an upper-body issue, is unavailable.