In his sophomore year with the New York Islanders, Mathew Barzal’s production dipped. How much does that impact his overall grade?
Mathew Barzal’s rookie season with the New York Islanders was about as perfect as you could get. He was over a point per game player, with 85 points (22 goals, 63 assists) which was good enough to yield a Calder Trophy.
Expectations were high for Barzal, especially when John Tavares left making the 21-year-old the new face of the franchise. Barzal came out of the gate on fire with 10 points (1 goal, 9 assists) in the Islanders first nine games.
He was right back on pace to be a point per game player again. Eventually, Barzal fell off of that point per game pace. On five separate occasions, he went three straight games without a point for the Islanders.
Unfortunately, that’s not going to cut it for someone looking to hit that point per game level. Instead, Barzal finished with 62 points (18 goals, 44 assists). There are a few theories as to why Barzal’s numbers dropped off.
The first is natural regression. When you way exceed expectations, sometimes the following year shows a regression. When Barzy was still an unknown prospect, many projected him to be a 60 point player.
Last year he obviously showed signs of being better than that, while this past year he was exactly what scouts thought he would be before joining the league.
Another theory you have is the new system. Nearly everyone, excluding Casey Cizikas and Brock Nelson, saw their offensive numbers dip. Maybe there’s an adjustment period for the forwards learning the new more defensive style of gameplay.
Perhaps, under Barry Trotz, the Islanders aren’t going to have someone play at an 85-90 point offensive minded level. If their goal differential is a positive one, that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
The last, and arguably the best theory, is the constant rotation of linemates. Barzal spent a solid chunk of the year with Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier who both went through some pretty significant scoring droughts.
Eventually, the Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle additions worked out for Barzal but both Lee and Eberle saw a decline in offense this year too, leading to Barzal’s regression.
Barzal had a good, not great sophomore season. A strong playoff performance helped save the narrative for Mathew Barzal this past season. In eight games Barzal had seven points (2 goals, 5 assists).
Mathew Barzal’s season was good enough for a B-. Numerous factors held him back this year, and he is going to have to shoulder the load even more so next year.