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Analysis

New York Islanders Mathew Barzal Can Easily Get Mitch Marner Money

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 02: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders celebrates his goal at 13:46 of the third period against the Los Angeles Kings at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on February 02, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Kings 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 02: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders celebrates his goal at 13:46 of the third period against the Los Angeles Kings at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on February 02, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Kings 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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New York Islanders Mathew Barzal can easily become an $11 million player next season now that Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner signed for a $10.893 million AAV.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal‘s entry-level contract will expire at the of this season. How much can he get in his next deal? It depends, but seeing how Mitch Marner signed a deal that carries an AAV of just under $11 million, its easy to see Barzal get an $11 million cap hit.

Toronto Maple Leafs RFA Mitch Marner finally signed on Friday. He re-upped with the Leafs for a $10.893 million AAV over the next six years. All of that drama and he takes a deal that’s longer than Matthews and carries a lower cap hit.

Seems like this could have been done a lot sooner. But I honestly can’t be too mad, it gave us something to talk about this offseason. So, thanks for the drama, Mitch and Kyle? I guess?

The impact of Marner’s deal will be felt by the New York Islanders when they have to re-sign Mathew Barzal.

Comparing

You might ask how on earth a 62 point center can be worth $11 million per year (on average). That’s a fair question. Again, it all depends on what Mathew Barzal does this season, and if he can put up the same production he did in his rookie season.

But first I want to highlight what Barzal has been able to do in his first two years in the NHL versus what Mitch Marner did in his first two seasons in the NHL.

*Stats from NaturalStatTrick.com
**Barzal stats from 2017-18 to 2018-19
***Marner stats from 2016-17 to 2017-18

Both are virtually identical when it comes to underlying numbers. Both retain possession of the puck at about the same rate with Barzal getting a slightly better rate. Both generate virtually the same number of expected goals, a measure that is now seen as a good predictor of future production.

Based on their first two years in the NHL Mathew Barzal and Mitch Marner are neck and neck in terms of quality. Year three is where Marner pushed himself into the second-highest-paid-winger conversation with a 94 point season.

Year three, this year, is where Barzal is going to justify an $11 million price tag.

He’s a Center

Barzal doesn’t need to score 94 points to get Marner money. If he can get back to a point-per-game he’ll easily justify that hefty price tag.

He’s a center. Centers that can produce are worth more than wingers who produce at the same rate. That’s why of the 13 players that carry an AAV of $10 million or more, only three are wingers. Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin, and Mitch Marner.

Getting back to a point-per-game in year three will cement Barzal as such. A point-per-game center. That’s worth a major payday in today’s NHL. Even if he’s only played for three seasons.

There’s also the small matter of the Islanders showing they’re ready to pay and keep their star players.

Again, it depends on what Barzal can do this season. Can he get back to where he was in his rookie season or will he remain as a 62 point player? Captain Anders Lee seems to think that Barzal will have a big year this season.

Back to Form

There’s no reason to think that Mathew Barzal can’t get back to where he was in his rookie year. Yes, he took a 23 point dip in his production from his rookie year to his sophomore year.

But that sophomore year also included a power play that was efficient only 14.5 percent of the time. A power play where Barzal put up nine points less than he did in his rookie year. With Jim Hiller now as the power play coach and with a focus on improving the man-advantage, the Islanders will be better on the power play.

Last year was also a season where everyone around Barzal produced less. Just about everyone in the Islanders forward line outside of Brock Nelson and Casey Cizikas had a down year.

At 5on5 Barzal created more rebound chances and more high-danger chances than during his rookie year. It’s hard to believe that Islanders wingers will once again have down years in 2019-20.

All of that will benefit Mathew Barzal.

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Barzal can easily get a payday like Mitch Marner once his ELC is over this season. Yes, it depends on how he produces this season. But there’s no reason to think he can’t get back to a point-per-game in 2019-20.

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