In the end, the New York Islanders did not land Matt Duchene. By many accounts, the player the Colorado Avalanche insisted on in a Duchene trade with the blue and orange was Mathew Barzal. The Isles were smart not to trade Barzal for Duchene.
The New York Islanders quest for Matt Duchene is now officially over. It probably has been for some time.
The Isles were trying to land Duchene so they could bring a strong number two center to the team. It looks like the Isles already have one in the 20-year old Barzal.
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Smart Not to Trade Barzal
Barzal is currently centering the second-line with Jordan Eberle and Andrew Ladd on his wings. Barzal’s play has improved with each and every game so far this season. This was on display the other night when Barzal posted a 5-point night against ironically the Colorado Avalanche.
Barzal has also made his presence felt on the power play which all of sudden is on fire. If he stays healthy Barzal has a good chance to hit 50 points this season (3 Goals & 13 Points through Sunday’s game).
Then one gets to the big picture regarding the 16th overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft. While Duchene is a terrific player, Barzal has a chance to be a special player to an NHL franchise. Maybe as a special as number 91.
Fans can forget today’s NHL is a cap world but general managers cannot. That would be a grave mistake by any NHL general manager.
Barzal is the first-year of his entry-level contract. The Isles have him under team control for the next seven years.
Duchene is signed through next season (2018-19) with an annual cap hit of $6 Million. Then Duchene becomes an unrestricted free agent. With the current market of player salaries, Duchene should land a contract worth at least $8 Million annual for seven or eight years.
So Barzal has a higher ceiling, cost certainty, and team control for many more years. These are the reasons why the Isles could not include Barzal in any deal for Duchene.
Landing Duchene would have been a great move by Snow. But just maybe it was a blessing in disguise for the Isles that a Duchene deal did not happen. Reason being Barzal now has the opportunity to take the second-line center job.
Barzal is going to be a cornerstone player for this franchise the next decade. Take that to the bank.