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Islanders: Impact of Pierre-Luc Dubois Signing on Mathew Barzal

Aug 26, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers in game two of the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 26, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers in game two of the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Islanders and Mathew Barzal are reportedly far off on agreeing to a new contract. Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets have just agreed to a new contract for Pierre-Luc Dubois.

The New York Islanders and Mathew Barzal have yet to agree on a new contract with the 2020-21 NHL season less than two full weeks away. But the Columbus Blue Jackets have just agreed to a two-year, $10M deal for their young RFA center, Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Much of the recent reporting on the Barzal-Islanders negotiations has stated very plainly that the two sides are far off from a deal, but that Barzal is in New York and ready for Islanders training camp to open on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, Darren Dreger’s TSN colleague

Pierre LeBrun had reported

on rumors heard from several teams that Dubois may have been looking for a trade. In the end, Dubois and the Blue Jackets obviously managed to come to an agreement.

Economic Impact

A two-year, $10M bridge deal probably wasn’t what Jarmo Kekalainen was seeking. But in this economic climate, and with uncertainty about when we will see fans return to many NHL arenas, it’s what was feasible for both sides. Dubois’s deal will pay out a base salary of $3.350M in 2020-21, and $6.650M in 2021-22, for an AAV and cap hit of $5M.

With the economic impact hockey has felt due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen some odd outcomes on the free-agent market this year. Mike Hoffman, who led all 2020-21 unrestricted free agents in goals last season, waited three months to sign with the St. Louis Blues, and it was on a professional tryout (PTO) that’s expected to become a single-year contract.

So the question turns back to the Islanders, who will open their season on January 14 at the New York Rangers, will they be with or without their number one center under contract?

Common sense would dictate that Lou Lamoriello will not start 2020-21 without his brightest forward talent signed. It’s also pretty safe to assume that Barzal will get more money, if not years, than Pierre-Luc Dubois.

In terms of offensive production, Barzal has reached heights that Dubois hasn’t gotten close to. The Islanders center should probably be getting a contract closer to Carolina’s Sebastian Aho than to Pierre-Luc Dubois. But, as stated, the reality of this 2020-21 free agency period has been that players and teams have had to compromise in order to find a deal, and it will likely be the same here.

Barzal likely won’t be getting Aho’s contract, not this offseason and in this environment of uncertainty. But he won’t be getting $5M a year either, and in reality, he’ll probably be pushing $5.500M or $6M as his desired minimum salary now.

I’d expect a bridge deal. Something similar to Dubois’s, but with a higher base salary. Of note is that Dubois’s deal does not include any of the lockout-proof signing bonuses that we’ve seen become very popular with players negotiating contracts in recent years. I’d expect Lou Lamoriello will likely push to minimize any of those on any potential Barzal deal as well.

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