Mathew Barzal had an impressive rookie season with the New York Islanders in 2017-2018, how will he fare in the 2018-2019?
In two games in 2016-2017 Mathew Barzal looked completly lost for the New York Islanders. He played the puck while still standing in the penalty box and even admitted to being star-struck at times.
None of those characteristics followed him over to the 2017-2018 season. He played in all 82 games with the Islanders and was brilliant.
His first career point came against the Kings in the sixth game of the year. He followed that up with his first career goal as a New York Islander against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. He was off and running from there.
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Barzal ended up playing with Jordan Eberle and finding incredible chemistry with him and a mix of Andrew Ladd and Anthony Beauvillier on the left wing, more so with Beau on the second line. By the end of the year, Barzy finished with 85 points (22 goals, 63 assists).
His performance yielded him a Calder Trophy and he was just voted as the 16th best center in the league. He has very big shoes to fill in 2018 though.
Barzal will be taking over as the number one center with John Tavares north of the border. It’s assumed that linemate Jordan Eberle will join him on the top unit but his left wing is still up in the air.
On the one side, you can keep the dynamic duo of Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal, but Anders Lee and his 40 goals is also a good pick for the top line. For me, I’d prefer to keep Lee and Bailey together, on the second line, and keep Beauvillier – Barzal – Eberle together as the top line.
I have a couple of concerns heading into the 2018-2019, well I have a lot but, with Barzal I have just two. Will he be able to handle the load of being “the guy” of an offense and will he hit a sophomore slump?
Well, when you look at past Calder winners the last guy who didn’t put up better or comparable numbers in year two was Nathan McKinnon who spent a good portion of his second season injured. The last guy before that who played a full season and regressed was Steve Mason when he won the Calder back in 2009.
On paper, Barzal should be able to handle everything and improve, just like he showed last year.
I’ll take an optimistic approach when it comes to Mathew Barzal. I don’t think he regresses, he’s too talented to come crashing down to a 60 point player. If he finishes with 70 plus points this year I’ll be satisfied but I’ll go full positive and say he increases his point total from year one to year two, like what Crosby and McDavid did before him.
26 goals, 65 assists (91 points)
If Barzal does improve like this he may single-handedly will this team to a playoff spot no matter how much depth they lack at the center position after him.
Mathew Barzal’s development is going to be one of the more fun storylines of this season. In a year with tampered expectations watching Barzal, Beauvillier, Pulock and hopefully Devon Toews, Josh Ho-Sang and Kieffer Bellows at some point would make 2018 worthwhile.