New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal is headed into the final year of his contract in the 2022-23 season. It’s bound to be a busy off-season for the Isles GM, Lou Lamoriello, and one thing on his checklist could be extending his franchise center a year early.
Back in October, Lamoriello extended Ryan Pulock before puck drop on opening night of the 2021-22 season, nine months earlier than Pulock’s contract was set to expire. It would be in the best interest of the Islanders to try and do the same with Barzal if he’s willing to get it done early. After hearing from Barzal at exit interviews, there’s reason to believe Barzal would be open to it.
"Yeah, obviously, I’ve given thought to it. I would love to be here on the Island. This is home, this is where I want to be, this is where I want to win. I love my life here, love the city, the fans, our new rink is amazing. Love wearing the blue and orange. I would love to sign long-term here. I think it's such a cool thing when a player plays his whole career with one team. A lot of my favorite athletes have done that, so it’s obviously something I’d like to follow in as well."- Mathew Barzal
Those are encouraging words from the Islanders' No.1 center. Of course, it’s possible Barzal is betting on himself to have a better season in 2022-23 in order to receive a bigger payout. However, Barzal may be willing to take a discount, the same as his teammates did, in order to remain on Long Island long-term.
Barzal signed a three-year, $21 million bridge deal right before the 2020-21 season and will be looking for a raise. How much remains to be seen, but the good news is that if he gets to next summer unsigned, he’s still a restricted free agent but it would benefit the Islanders to not let it get that far.
Looking to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bolts extended Brayden Point eight years contract with an AAV of $9.5 million per year. That seems like a fair price to pay for Barzal who has had a pretty similar NHL career to Point thus far. Further, Point's three-year, $20.25 million contract was almost identical to Barzal's current three-year $21 million bridge deal with the Islanders, showing their NHL trajectories have been similar.
In the 188 games of Point's bridge deal, he accrued 170 points (76 goals, 94 assists) before signing his long-term extension with the Lightning. Barzal has accrued 104 points (32 goals, 72 assists) in 128 games and although he probably wont meet Points goal total, he should meet or exceed Point's 170 points in the same timespan.
Lamoriello and Barzal should both be happy with an eight-year, $76 million extension (a $9.5 million AAV) that kicks in for the 2023-24 season. That term and dollar amount should be enough to make both sides happy signing up for a long-term marriage. The Islanders are looking to return to the playoffs and there's reason to believe Barzal could get even better. So, before the possibility of that happening, extending Barzal this summer would be in the best interest of all parties before his price tag goes up to eight digits.