Looking around the NHL rumor mill regarding New York Islanders negotiations with Mathew Barzal paints a clear picture: Don’t panic.
The New York Islanders have a number of items to check off their checklist before the 20-21 NHL season begins. The one at the top of the list is extending RFA Mathew Barzal. But with perhaps less than a month before the puck drops on the regular season (and less before training camp), should Islanders fans worry?
Judging by how a number of people “in the know” around the league are talking about the negotiations between the Islanders and their start center, there’s no reason to panic.
Pierre LeBrun (TSN)
On TSN’s insider trading, LeBrun was asked by host Geno Reda if there was any update on players still without a contract. LeBrun focused on two RFAs Pierre-Luc Dubois (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Mathew Barzal.
Here’s what LeBrun had to say:
"They’ve [Barzal’s camp and Islanders] had constant communication between the two sides throughout all this. They’ve talked short-term, medium-term, long-term deals. Again, getting positive vibe out of that negotiation."
Elliotte Friedman (Sportsnet)
On December 14, Freidman was a bit more specific with what he had heard about the Mathew Barzal negotiations and the New York Islanders. According to the Sportsnet insider a bridge deal is likely for Barzal:
"“That’s still what I’m hearing,” Elliotte Friedman said on Sportsnet 960 The FAN’s Big Show. “They still have a lot of cap issues, so that’s what I expect."
A bridge deal shouldn’t come as a surprise. Lou Lamoriello is a big believer in bridge deals after ELC’s expire. Devon Toews, Ryan Pulock, Michael Dal Colle, and Anthony Beauvillier were all signed to two-year bridge deals by Lou Lamoriello once their ELC’s expired.
The same will certainly apply to Barzal. I expect the deal to carry a $7 million AAV over three years. Here’s a post on how I think that deal is going to be structured from years one through three.
Arthur Staple (The Athletic)
On Friday, Staple tried to project what the Islanders cap hit could look like next season (2021-22). Before he even begins talking about the 21-22 season, Staple indicated that Barzal ‘will’ be re-signed.
Staple rightfully points out that the economic situation in the NHL has closed the door on any possible offer sheet for Barzal, meaning the Islanders would be safe in taking their time negotiating with the star center.
And, as we all know (or should know by now) when Lou has time, he takes it.
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Andrew Gross (Newsday)
This one isn’t new, but I believe it’s important to add in this context.
When Ryan Pulock signed his two-year $10 million contract extension with the Islanders he mentioned that he had spoken with Mathew Barzal and both agreed they wanted to sign deals that worked for both sides.
“They want to win here.” If that doesn’t convince you that Barzal will re-sign with the Islanders I don’t know what will.