2017-18 Stats: 22G, 63A, 85P
Cap Hit: $863,333 | 2 Years
There’s no doubt that Mathew Barzal is the best center on the team. He was arguably the New York Islanders best center last season. A team that still had John Tavares as their number one center and captain.
Going into the 2018-19 season, the “kid that won the Calder” is going to be the center of the Islanders attack. Both literally, as the team’s number one centerman, and figuratively as the player who will be asked to carry the bulk of the Islanders attack.
The New York Islanders offense will center around what Mathew Barzal can produce night-in and night-out.
Based on what we saw in 2017-18, that shouldn’t be a problem. Barzal seemed 100 percent comfortable carrying the Islanders offense.
But how will that look now that Tavares is gone?
Barzal didn’t play alongside Tavares, but there’s something to be said about forcing teams to chose who they devoted most of their attention to. If they sought to cover Tavares, it made it theoretically easier for Barzal.
Barzal won’t have that this season. As the center of the Islanders offense, he will also be the center of the opposition’s defense every night. That extra attention might be too much for the second year player. Or not.
Barzal still faced a 50.05 CF% quality of competition in 2017-18 that was only bettered by a few teammates. Most of which were staples of the Isles first line. Barzal still faced tough competition last season. A player of his caliber will relish the extra attention.