New York Islanders Making Room for Barzal
While the off-season has begun for the New York Islanders, Mathew Barzal plays on in the Western Hockey League Conference Finals. The 2015 first-round pick once again showed this season in the WHL that he has a very bright future ahead in the NHL. The Islanders need to make room for Barzal.
The New York Islanders have to be happy with the season Mathew Barzal is having this year for the Seattle Thunderbirds. He compiled 79 points in just 41 regular-season games and was one of the core players for the T-Birds this past season.
Once the Thunderbirds season ends, the focus for Barzal will be playing for the Islanders full-time in 2017-18.
Coming to the Isles
Barzal is a gifted player with an elite level of skills. In the recent, Hockey News Future Watch issue, Eric Cairns, director of player development for the Isles described Barzal as follows:
"“Speed, poise, smart with the puck. He’s going to be a great offensive player for us down the road.”"
In addition to a big season with Seattle, Barzal had a strong World Junior Championship this year playing for Team Canada. With eight points in seven games he along with Thomas Chabot and Dylan Strome lead team Canada to a silver medal.
New York Islanders
Barzal could give the Islanders another dominant offensive player as soon as next season. What yours truly likes the most about Barzal’s game is he makes everyone around him better.
Finally, Barzal is a force on the power-play. Obviously, that has been an area the Isles have under performed over the last couple of seasons.
Someone Needs to Go
With Barzal coming on board and getting meaningful minutes, that would mean out of Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, or Josh Bailey someone has to go.
In fact don’t be surprised to see two of these players leave this summer if the Isles land a proven offensive player.
One option is the Islanders land a scoring winger to play alongside Barzal and give the Isles two dynamic lines. The Isles could package a defenseman (Travis Hamonic) and either Nelson or Strome to land a proven goal scorer.
If Garth Snow could pull off such a trade he would be set with his top two lines and then have Andrew Ladd play with the kids (Josh Ho-Sang & Anthony Beauvillier) and return to having the best fourth line in hockey with Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, and Jason Chimera.
When Doug Weight took over behind the bench last season, everyone saw good things from the youngsters especially Ho-Sang and Beauvillier. Taking Weight’s guidance and expertise and putting it with Barzal’s skill will lead to a special player. That combination could make Barzal a Calder Trophy finalist next season.
Next: Lee & Bailey's Breakout Years
Bottom line Barzal needs to be part of the Islanders next season. Weight and Snow should have #13 of the Seattle Thunderbirds a big part of their plans next season.