New York Islanders: Mathew Barzal Must Lead The Line

By Frank Molinari
GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 22: Mathew Barzal
GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 22: Mathew Barzal /

Mathew Barzal must step up big for the New York Islanders. Barzal is going to have to be the No. 1 center. Barzal will have to take on a new role in 2018-19.

With the dust starting to finally settle on John Tavares, the spotlight is undoubtedly on Mat Barzal. It’s pretty obvious too.

The New York Islanders’ reigning Calder winner was always going to succeed Tavares should he leave. Barzal finished the season with 85 points, one more than the Islanders’ former captain.

However, unlike last year, in this upcoming season, Barzal is going to face other team’s best defensemen. Barzal was the second line center this past season and since he is now going to the first line, he will have to up his game. Barzal has the potential to be a 100-point scorer.

100 Point Player

No guarantees on that, but he is likely to be better than Tavares if their rookie years are anything to go by. Barzal will have to lift his linemates as Tavares did. Anders Lee scored 40 goals with Tavares as his center. If Barzal can get at least 30 from him, they will be a pretty dominant offensive pair.

It will be interesting to see what the Islanders do with Josh Bailey in terms of what line he will be on. Bailey has finished this past season with 71 points, which is certainly 1st line worthy, but I am not confident he hits those heights next season. Beauvillier and Barzal have been dynamic with each other last season, with Beauvillier finishing with 21 goals as Barzal’s linemate.

The first line of Lee-Barzal-Beauvillier would certainly be threatening. With Barzal’s playmaking ability, Beauvillier’s speed, and Lee’s physical prowess, this line would be hard to keep cool. Another route the Islanders could go down is moving Beauvillier down to 2nd line center, with Nelson and Bailey/Eberle on his wings.

However, that splits up Barzal and Beauvillier, but it may be something the Islanders have to try if Nelson at center doesn’t work (which is likely).

Next: Isles Should Trade For Anaheim's Josh Manson

With one door closing on John Tavares, another one opens with Mathew Barzal. It will be the year(s) of Barzal.