If you regularly tune into 32 Thoughts the Podcast with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek, you've likely already heard how much Mathew Barzal loves it on Long Island in one of their latest episodes released on Saturday, Sept.17th. If you haven't, he's given it a glowing review.
"I love it out there. I think it’s underrated. It doesn’t get talked about enough the lifestyle you can live on Long Island, being in New York, you just have so much around you."- Mathew Barzal on Long Island
Barzal even went as far as to say that his time in New York and on Long Island has made him more of a New Yorker than it does a Canadian and referred to his favorite athletes (such as Michael Jordan) playing for the team they've always been with long-term, something Barzal wants to do himself. In the words of Friedman, it's music to NY Islanders fans' ears. Well, in an even more recent episode of 32 Thoughts that was released on Monday, Friedman reported that the Islanders and Barzal have begun discussions regarding a contract extension.
"I got a call from someone on Sunday and they said that they think the Islanders and Barzal have begun talking here... He said to me he thinks they've begun talking about it. I don't know what the likelihood is, but the conversations are underway."- Elliote Friedman
The report comes following Barzal gushing about how much he loves living on Long Island and his lifestyle, so reading the tea leaves would suggest that the chances of an extension coming to fruition seems likely. Anything can happen, of course, but for now, it at least appears it's what both sides want.
Barzal is coming off a disappointing season, much like the rest of the Islanders, in which he scored 59 points (15 goals, 44 assists) in 73 games, his lowest point-per-game pace thus far in his career. The Islanders' 25-year-old franchise center is in the final year of his three-year bridge contract he signed in January of 2021 that paid him a $7 million AAV. Despite an off-year last season, Barzal is due for a raise.
Lou Lamoriello has always been an advocate of "if you have time, you use it," so it wouldn't come as a surprise if this didn't happen in the near future. Barzal may look to bet on himself to have a better season in 2022-23 under new coach Lane Lambert in his system that's anticipated to be a little more offensive. Regardless, Barzal is a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract, so even if things don't get sorted out sooner rather than later, he's still Islanders property.
The fact that the two sides have begun talking a year in advance is a good sign, however. It's something Lamoriello has done before, extending Ryan Pulock to an eight-year extension last October, and it would be a welcomed surprise if Barzal and Lamoriello did something similar after a lackluster summer by the Isles GM.