Putting Tom Kuhnhackl with Mathew Barzal on the New York Islanders second line is a sin. The Islanders have to do better by Barzal.
The New York Islanders just won in dominant fashion in Columbus Thursday night, but an obvious need was put on display on the Islanders second line. Mathew Barzal played alongside Tom Kuhnhackl.
I really don’t want this to be a hit piece on Tom Kuhnhackl. He’s a fine fourth line player and has two Stanley Cup rings to his name from his time in Pittsburgh. That being said, there is simply no reason that Mathew Barzal should be subjected to that.
Kuhnhackl has played in 190 games over four years, and his average time on ice is 11:01. The past two years he played primarily on the Penguins fourth line. Last night, just his fourth game since the calendar flipped to 2019, he found himself with Barzal and Josh Bailey.
Out of everyone the Islanders have on their roster how is it possible that Tom Kuhnhackl, whose career high in points is just 16, was deemed worthy to play with two forwards who put up over 70 points last year.
I understand he ended up putting up a point last night, his seventh in 22 games with the Islanders so far in 2018-2019, but this can’t continue. We saw it already this year, he flashed for a game or two and then went back to being his regular fourth line self.
If he’s getting 13 or more minutes, like he did last night, there’s an issue. It probably sounds really spoiled because the Islanders won the game and they’re in first place but if you think he’s the long-term solution on that line you have another thing coming.
There are four more games left before the trade deadline, and come February 25, if Tom Kuhnhackl’s name is listed next to Mathew Barzal Islanders fans have every right to be upset.
Yes, Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz have done a phenomenal job with this team this year. Barry’s a lock for the Jack Adams and they are just about a playoff lock. That being said, passing on an opportunity to go for it, and thinking Tom Kuhnhackl is a sustainable top-six winger is just not fair to Mathew Barzal or Josh Bailey.
Barzal deserves a sniper to play with, not someone with 14 career goals.