Mat Barzal to Play in 500th Regular Season Game for the NY Islanders Tonight

New York Islanders v Detroit Red Wings
New York Islanders v Detroit Red Wings / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

It feels like just yesterday the NY Islanders drafted Mathew Barzal, but tonight, the face of the franchise will play in his 500th regular season game for the organization.

In one of the best moves of his tenure as General Manager for the Islanders, Garth Snow traded former fourth overall pick Griffin Reinhardt to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. With that pick, the Islanders selected Barzal.

Things didn't start the way Barzal may have expected with the Islanders, as he failed to make the team out of training camp for the 2016-17, while fellow first-round pick in 2015, Anthony Beauvillier, did. He'd make a two-game cameo at the end of the season before becoming a regular in 2017-18. While not making the roster the year before, it turned out to be the best thing for Barzal's career, as he went on to finish his rookie campaign leading the Islanders with 85 points (22 goals, 63 assists) and was awarded the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year.

While Barzal's numbers haven't yet replicated his rookie season, he has been the Islanders' biggest offensive threat during his tenure with the organization, earning himself an 8-year extension just before the start of the 2022-23 season, which will see him earn $9.15M annually.

This season Barzal has had his best season since he famously became "the kid who won the Calder." Through 79 games, he has 80 points and has set a new career high in goals with 23.

Barzal has been a center for his entire career but has switched to the wing full-time in what has been a spark reigniting his career. Now playing alongside Bo Horvat, Barzal has a partner in crime and a legitimate goal-scoring threat to distribute the puck to.

Barzal has taken on more of a leadership role within the organization, exhibited by his on-ice play and passion for winning. With a win tonight he'll have his team back in the playoffs, hoping to take it one step further than his semi-final/Conference Final appearances in 2020 and 2021.