The New York Islanders' offseason has begun and players have taken individual steps to begin their offseason training. Kieffer Bellows was announced to USA's 2022 Men's IIHF Championship roster and on Friday, May 6th, Mathew Barzal was announced that he is joining Team Canada.
The upcoming tournament will be Barzal's second stint for Canada at the IIHF World Championships. In 2018, Barzal recorded seven assists in 10 games before ultimately losing to the Czech Republic in the semifinals. Barzal also represented Team Canada at the U20 World Junior Championships in 2017.
2021-22 was a disappointing season for both the Islanders and Barzal personally. In 73 games, Barzal accrued 15 goals and 44 assists. The expectation for the 24-year-old center was to take another step forward en route to becoming an elite player at the NHL level. That didn't quite happen, but the World Championships is a good opportunity for Barzal to continue crafting his skills at the national level.
The last three off-seasons have been short ones for the Islanders. Now, the Islanders have a chance for the first time in a long time to rest and recover after consecutive deep postseason runs in 2020 and 2021 that only battered and bruised them due to their grinding style of play. Barzal battled both Covid and injury in the 2021-22 season, so to see him representing Canada in the offseason is a good indication that he's feeling physically well, and he indicated as much in his exit interview.
"I feel like the last two years haven’t really had a chance to settle into training. So I think everybody’s gonna kind of work hard this summer, get better, get stronger, and I think this group’s gonna bounce back."- Via New York Islanders Twitter
The 2022 Mens IIHF World Championships is set to being on May 13th and will be held in Tampere and Helsinki, Finland.