It’s been brought up that the New York Islanders should trade Mathew Barzal for Columbus Blue Jackets Pierre-Luc Dubois and that’s ridiculous.
New York Islanders fans spent most of the offseason worrying about when Mathew Barzal would be signed to his next contract. But on January 8, six days before the start of the 2021 season, Barzal was re-signed to a three-year deal.
The Islanders now have their most important piece locked for the next few years and can concentrate on pushing past their Eastern Conference Finals appearance from the 2020 playoffs.
But according to Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons, the Islanders should trade their star center for Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois. And that’s ridiculous.
Simmons argues that Dubois is the better fit for the Islanders because he’s bigger and a more defensive player than Barzal (who is 6’0″ 180lbs by the way).
"If I’m Lou Lamoriello, now that I’ve signed restricted free agent Mathew Barzal, I’d turn around and trade him to Columbus for Pierre-Luc Dubois, who wants out. Barzal may be the more dynamic offensive player, but Dubois is the better three-zone player, which is Islanders style, and he’s three inches taller and almost 30 pounds heavier than Barzal, and $2 million a year less expensive – Steve Simmons"
Simmons isn’t wrong about Dubois. The third overall pick from 2016 is certainly a better defensive player than Bazal and by that virtue alone he fits the Islanders defense-first style. But the Isles already have three great “three-zone” centers in the lineup.
Brock Nelson is easily a top-end second-line center in the NHL and has developed into a defensive asset rather than a defensive liability under Barry Trotz.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau is easily the best third-line center in the NHL. There should be no questions about Pegeau’s two-way play. It’s why Lou Lamoriello was comfortable sending a first and second-round pick to Ottawa for him. Pageau is an excellent two-way player and fits the Islanders system to a tee.
Just like Pageau, Casey Cizikas is easily one of the best fourth line centers in the league. He’s so good at what he does that he drives the entire Islanders identity.
The picture I’m trying to paint here is that the Islanders have enough “three-zone” players that at some point, the Islanders have to think about playing offense. And that’s where Mathew Barzal fits into the equation.
There is no better player in the NHL at taking the puck through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone than Mathew Barzal. Honestly, the data backs that up.
Barzal is also regularly one of the top players at generating offensive zone possession in the entire NHL. The Point Hockey regularly has Mathew Barzal at the top of their Ozone Puck Possession (per game) rankings.
Mathew Barzal is an elite level offensive player not only for the New York Islanders but in the NHL. Sure Pierre-Luc Dubois is a good player and is three inches taller and like 30lbs heavier (not that that matters). But Dubois has 158 points in his first three years in the league compared to Barzal who has 207, a Calder Trophy, as well as 24 playoff points (to Dubois 19).
Why in the wide-world-of-sports would Lou Lamoriello trade his franchise player (who likes playing in this market) for a disgruntled Dubois? On paper, Dubois fits that defensive-mold that Barry Trotz likes to operate. But it’s not like Barry Trotz was looking to move Nicklas Backstrom for like Derek Stepan when he was in Washington. Of course not, that would be ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as trading Barzal for Dubois.