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New York Islanders Need to Sign Mathew Barzal to Long-Term Contract

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 18: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 18, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. The Islanders defeated the Coyotes 3-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 18: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 18, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. The Islanders defeated the Coyotes 3-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders and Mathew Barzal have apparently opened discussion on a contract extension. Barzal’s next deal needs to be long-term.

According to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun (subscription required), the New York Islanders have opened discussions with Mathew Barzal on a contract extension. The discussions are still in the early stages, but according to LeBrun, negotiations will open as early as this fall.

Barzal is in the final year of his three-year entry-level contract (ELC). He’ll be a restricted free agent when he comes to the end of that ELC.

We’ve seen post-ELC extensions go one of three ways. Either it’s a short bridge deal, like Anthony Beauvillier‘s. It could be a medium length deal like that five-year deal that Auston Matthews signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Or it could be for the full eight years like Thomas Chabot signed with the Ottawa Senators.

For the New York Islanders sake, I hope the deal the two parties sign is for a full eight years.

Long-Term Is Best Term

Here’s what Pierre LeBrun had to say on the contract extension process between Mathew Barzal and the New York Islanders:

"My understanding is that the Islanders and Barzal’s camp led by agent J.P. Barry have already had dialogue to the extent of wanting to get together to get the process going at some point in the fall. -Pierre LeBrun"

We’re still in the infancy of this new era of the New York Islanders. We’re in the post-John Tavares years and we need our superstar. Thankfully, the Islanders didn’t have to tank a full season to get a top prospect to usher in this new era.

That superstar player was already here. The Islanders already had Mathew Barzal. It’s a tough situation for a young man to be thrust in. But then again, it’s common for NHL teams to hitch their futures on the shoulders of young men.

The New Jersey Devils are hitched to 18-year-old Jack Hughes. The Vancouver Canucks are all in on sophomore Elias Pettersson. Connor McDavid is only 22 and he’s not only supposed to drag the Edmonton Oilers out of the basement but help push the NHL to a global audience.

As the Islanders transition into this new era, we’re looking for some stability. For the first time in years, we finally have it with our home arena. Sure, the Islanders will play home games on Long Island and in Brooklyn this season. But we know that a new arena has been secured in Belmont.

Now we want some stability in terms of on-ice personnel, like our superstar center. An eight-year contract with Mathew Barzal will be that nod Islanders fans want.

I can understand why Mathew Barzal would sign a shorter deal. NHL players have short careers, maximizing the amount of money he can get in that short career is a respectable priority.

He can sign a five-year deal now worth, say, $10 million per year. Then when that deal is done he could sign another five-year deal worth a bit more. It makes sense.

My hesitations towards a medium-term deal, say five years is that by the end of that five-year deal, Barzal will be able to hit unrestricted free agency. I’m not saying he will leave as Tavares did, but it’s certainly a risk and something I’d like to avoid.

Yes, he will also be an unrestricted free agent at the end of an eight-year extension. But signing him to the maximum length allowed under the CBA would be a great shot of confidence.

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Getting a full eight-year contract extension should be the Islanders first priority with Mathew Barzal. Hopefully, with negotiations about to open up, they can get that done.

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