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New York Islanders: Assessing The 5 Youngest Players On The Roster

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 14: Oliver Wahlstrom #26 of the New York Islanders skates in his first NHL game against the St. Louis Blues at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on October 14, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 14: Oliver Wahlstrom #26 of the New York Islanders skates in his first NHL game against the St. Louis Blues at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on October 14, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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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)

Mathew Barzal

Age: 22 years, 143 days

Barzal needs no introduction. In his third season at the NHL level, “the kid who won the Calder” is the brightest young star this New York Islanders team has. He’s the prototypical new-ager. Dazzling skating ability, and the dangles to go with it.

A keen nose for the net, and exceptional vision in the offensive zone, he can only get better under the tutelage of Barry Trotz. Barzal saw time on the penalty kill during the preseason, and he’s taken 56.9% of his faceoffs in the defensive zone, according to Hockey Reference. A different look for the normally offense-driven center.

The improvement I’d most like to see from Barzal this season is at the faceoff dots. Barzal is at 42.2% for his career FO%. Last year he finished the season at 41.8%. That said, center is one of the toughest positions for young NHL’ers to acclimate to, and being the man on the draw plays no small part in that. I’d expect to see his FO% numbers go up as time progresses.

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