Rumours of Jordan Eberle leaving Edmonton finally stopped Thursday.
Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli found a trade partner in Islanders counterpart Garth Snow, sending Eberle to New York for fellow forward Ryan Strome.
Eberle, 27, is coming off a 20-goal, 51-point season, his seventh full NHL campaign since Edmonton drafted him 22nd overall in 2008. A year ago, Chiarelli moved 2010 first-round forward Taylor Hall to New Jersey for defenceman Adam Larsson.
"It's something I've never gone through before, it's a different experience," Eberle said on a conference call. "But it's something I definitely knew would eventually come. For me right now, I'm definitely excited to be a New York Islander."
The right-winger didn't fare well in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs, mustering just two assists in 13 games with a minus-6 rating, as the Oilers were eliminated by Anaheim in Game 7 of a Western Conference semifinal after securing their first post-season berth since 2006.
"Jordan brings leadership and experience into our room, qualities that will continue to help us build towards our goals of being a consistent playoff contender and winning the Stanley Cup," said Snow in a statement.
Trade talks surrounded Eberle for a lot of his time in Edmonton, with the notion of shipping him out for a lesser, cheaper forward re-surfacing late in the 2016-17 regular season.
"I think moving forward this will be a new chapter, it'll be great with a new fresh start and a new team," Eberle said.
He departs Edmonton with 165 goals and 382 points in 507 regular-season contests. A Regina native, Eberle has scored at least 20 goals in each of the past four seasons, and had a career-high 34 in 2011-12.
$6 million US cap hit
At the NHL's Vegas expansion draft on Wednesday night, Snow dealt a first-round pick in this weekend's draft, a 2019 second-rounder, the $5 million US contract of forward Mikhail Grabovski and defence prospect Jake Bischoff to the Golden Knights.
The move was made for Vegas GM George McPhee to agree to select goalie Jean-Francois Berube, leaving Snow with prime assets and extra salary cap space since Eberle carries a $6-million cap hit for the next two seasons before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency.
The 23-year-old Strome, also a right-winger, disappointed in his third full NHL season, recording 13 goals and 30 points along with a minus-8 rating.
Two years ago, the native of Mississauga, Ont., and No. 5 overall pick by the Islanders in 2011 had 17 goals, a career-high 50 points and was plus-23, but dipped to eight goals, 20 points and minus-9 the following season.
Next season, Strome has a cap hit of $2.5 million before becoming a restricted free agent.
He learned of Thursday's trade while flying with his family to Chicago, where his brother Matthew is expected to be drafted this weekend. Strome's other brother Dylan was drafted third overall by the Arizona Coyotes in 2015.
"Super excited, honestly," Ryan Strome said, while repeatedly noting his eagerness to get started with the Oilers. "I couldn't be more excited for the new opportunity."
Strome added he hoped to regain some "swagger" offensively with Edmonton, perhaps skating alongside top forwards Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl.
Thursday's trade frees up cap space for Chiarelli, who is looking to sign McDavid and Draisaitl this off-season. McDavid, who won his first Hart Trophy as NHL MVP at the league's awards ceremony in Las Vegas on Wednesday, is entering the final year of his entry-level deal but could be signed to an extension on July 1.
Draisaitl, who played on a line with McDavid for portions of this past season, will see his entry-level contract expire July 1. He finished second to McDavid in team scoring at age 21 with 77 points in 82 games on 29 goals and 48 assists.
Rival GMs could be looking to strike and present Draisaitl with an offer sheet, but Chiarelli didn't believe such a scenario was imminent, "but there's always the chatter and I want to be firm and clear that we have a significant amount of space and will match anything."
The last offer sheet came in 2013 when Calgary offered Ryan O'Reilly a two-year deal while the centre was a member of the Colorado Avalanche.
He sent Vegas a 2019 fifth-round pick for Schlemko, a 30-year-old Edmonton native who collected 18 points in 63 regular-season games this past season for San Jose. He added two goals and three points in six playoff outings.
Vegas GM George McPhee, who drafted defenceman Trevor van Riemsdyk from Chicago on Wednesday, flipped him Thursday to the Carolina Hurricanes for Pittsburgh's second-round selection (62nd overall) this weekend.
Carolina also acquired the Golden Knights' seventh-round pick in 2018. Van Riemsdyk, 25, posted a career-high 16 points and plus-17 rating in 2016-17. He won the 2014 Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks, and very affordable at $825,000 next season.
Trevor van Riemsdyk said last 24 hours have been whirlwind. Says being with Canes should "definitely be cool, a different change."— @ice_chip