The next player to get a report card for the New York Islanders is center Mathew Barzal. It wasn't a banner year for him, it was for very few players honestly, but did Barzal do enough to get a good grade in 2021-22?
As with the other player report cards (I've only done Josh Bailey so far), I'm grading Barzal over three categories (offense, defense, and impact vs. reliance). Here's what I gave him and why.
Technically, he lead the team in offense. No one on the team scored more than Barzal's 59 points. But Brock Nelson did equalize his points tally. So again, technically, Barzal leads the team in points. That's good. You want to see Mathew Barzal at top of the stats sheet.
It's just the number that's a little low. Fifty-nine points in 73 games just isn't the type of production we all want to see from him. Pace that production out over a full year and he's a 66-point player.
It's just not enough. Fairly or not, Barzal had to produce more to paper over some of the Islander's issues. The Isles top offensive player just wasn't able to do that this year. So he gets a B-.
When it comes to defense, Barzal ranks 19th out of 20 Islanders forwards this year in terms of relative xGA/60 at 5on5. His +0.38 is only exceeded by Anders Lee at +0.45. That means when Barzal is on the ice (at 5on5) he gives up 0.38 goals-against more than the rest of the forwards on the team.
That's, of course, not good. Now to be fair, Barzal gets a lot of tough matchups when he's out there so that could contribute to that lower relative xGA/60. But top centers usually still find a way to manage their offensive and defensive responsibilities. So I'm giving Barzal a D+ because he's asked to do a lot and doesn't get a ton of support.
Impact vs Reliance: A-
Again, what I'm doing here is looking to see if the given player had a greater impact than his usage. To do so, I'm comparing the player's average game score rank (based on position) versus their average ice time, again ranked based on position.
Barzal's 0.58 average game score was third on the Isles for forwards that played at least 12 games*. When it comes to average ice time (for forwards), Barzal finished top with 18:01. So while the impact doesn't quite match how much the islanders relied on him it's close so I'm going to give Barzal an A- here.
*Austin Czarnik would have been number one, but he only played 11 NHL games.
Overall Grade: C+
Look it wasn't a great year for Barzal, it wasn't bad either. And I think he'd be the first to tell you that. A C+ isn't amazing, but C's get degrees, right?