New York Islanders Top 25 Under 25 #1 Mathew Barzal

By Jennifer Lapka
Sep 27, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) and New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) battle for a loose puck during the first period during a preseason hockey game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 27, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) and New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) battle for a loose puck during the first period during a preseason hockey game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports /
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Swimming in offensive skill, Mathew Barzal tops the Eye on Isles’ New York Islanders Top 25 Under 25 list.

After Mathew Barzal’s first NHL training camp with the New York Islanders, he turned heads. He made the kind of impression that also caused some head-scratching when he didn’t get that nine-game look in the beginning of the season.

Barzal went back to junior and had a solid year with 88 points in 58 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds. He also scored two goals and added an assist in five games for Canada at the World Junior Championships.

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Barzal’s overall numbers (161-53-146-199) in junior hockey suggest skill as a playmaker and the general scouting reports on him pretty much say the same thing: good instincts, sees the ice well, has offensive skill. He’s served as assistant captain of the Thunderbirds for two seasons so he’s gained leadership responsibility, too.

If there’s a knock on Barzal, it’s his size and play in his own end. Both are areas to improve and learn as he grows into the position of an NHL forward.

Barzal is a smart kid and he knows what he’s got to do. He showed up to camp this year a week early and skated with the first smattering of veterans. While there’s been talk that a roster spot is essentially his to lose, he’s saying the right things, working hard, and letting his play do the rest.

Now training camp is close to an end and Barzal has been exciting while taking his knocks. He’s right in the thick of the job hunt with fellow 2015 first rounder, Anthony Beauvillier, the Isles’ sleeper surprise. Knowing nothing is set in stone for him has been a good motivator and he’s the kind of kid who will use that.

Next: Parenteau's a Place Holder for Ho-Sang

He lifted his own bar and he welcomes the pressure. Add that to his skill and it’s a cocktail that will hopefully spell his success.

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