EA Sports might not think that any New York Islanders player belongs in the top 50 of the NHL today. But Sportsnet disagrees. Mathew Barzal is in the top 40.
The Calder Trophy winner in 2018 was not only the best rookie in the league he was one of its better players. As the NHL gets faster and more skilled he’s exactly what the Islanders need to compete.
But as we saw with the EA Sports rankings for NHL 19, Islanders players don’t always get the attention they deserve. Barzal didn’t make the popular video game franchise’s top 50 players. Sportsnet, on the other hand, ranked him 40th in the league.
Still Seems Low
"Barzal blew the rest of the Calder competition away in 2017–18 with his 85-point season. Now, for his second act, the 21-year-old will attempt to fill the hole left in the Islanders’ lineup after the departure of John Tavares. The soon-to-be No. 1 centreman showed plenty of poise with the puck as a rookie and found instant chemistry with Jordan Eberle and Anthony Beauvillier — both of whom will be returning for 2018–19. The best part of Barzal’s game? We’ve only just seen the beginning."
Barzal absolutely deserves to be in the top 100 of the league right now. I understand why they ranked him 40th overall. While Barzal did have an incredible season in 2017-18 who knows what he’ll do next season.
(Although we’re all pretty sure he’ll be just as fantastic as he was in 2017-18 if not better in 2018-19.)
With only a single season under his belt, Barzal isn’t a known quantity. I get it. These rankings reward consistency. That’s why Niklas Backstrom ranks above Barzal even if he wasn’t as dominant as we’re used to see from the Capitals center.
But then again, that singular season returned the 16th most points in the NHL last season and was a player that had the most offensive possession in the league.
Again, I understand being a little bear-ish on Calder winning seasons. Over the last ten years, Steve Mason and Tyler Myers have both won Calder Trophies. Neither has gone on to have all-star careers.
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Mathew Barzal is young. Real young. The 21-year-old still has years to go before he peaks. Until that time he’s going to get better. By 2019 he’ll be in the top 20, or better.