The New York Islanders have re-signed Mathew Barzal, on Saturday he spoke to the media for the first time since signing. Here are the takeaways from that availability.
It was the first time the media (and by extension the fans) were able to know how the negotiations went and to check-in with the star center. Here are three of the most important takeaways from Barzal’s media availability.
Loves it On the Island
Islanders fans constantly hear that players don’t want to play on the Island. John Tavares leaving for the Toronto Maple Leafs confirmed that narrative to many outside the Island. But since Lou Lamoriello has been at the helm that narrative has flipped. Queue Mathew Barzal.
Barzal mentioned a few times that he loved playing on the Island and didn’t want to be anywhere else.
Look, I know that Barzal is an RFA and didn’t have anywhere else to go unless he asked for a trade. But he didn’t and we know he was on the Island in the lead-up to the signing. In fact, Barzal was skating with former Islanders Dennis Seidenberg, Tom Kuhnhackl, and Johnny Boychuk while the rest of the team was in camp.
Barzal loves it on the Island and committed to the team for as long as was economically possible.
Would Have Signed Long Term
On the length of his contract, Barzal indicated that he would have been willing to sign a long-term contract but due to the economic climate in the NHL, the two sides agreed to a shorter-term contract.
I had heard that Barzal was asking for a six-year deal with a $9.5 million AAV. That would have been difficult for the New York Islanders to fit under the $81.5 million ceiling. Not impossible but difficult. Now, with a $7 million AAV, they don’t have to worry about it.
Consistency is Key
Armed with a three-year deal, Barzal spoke about what he needs to do in 2021 to improve as a player.
We forget that Barzal is only 23 and has only completed his third year in the NHL. He’s still young and will still get better than what we’ve seen. Working on his consistency sounds cliché, but he’s absolutely right.
At the start of 19-20, Barzal was on pace to hit 30+ goals but in the second half that dipped considerably. He fell victim to trying too hard and doing too much. In 2021, he’s got to just realize he can carry this team by doing what he normally does, doing more or holding onto the puck too long will only harm the team.