Is New York Islanders Star Mat Barzal Elite?

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders
Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

There is no question among fans and players that the New York Islanders can not score goals. Over the past few seasons, their star center Mat Barzal has shined in moments, but often plays careless and overthinks on the ice. Is he really the player we think he is?

It's hard to place the blame on any particular player this season, as the Islanders have been decimated by COVID-19 protocols and injuries to their best players. If you pay attention closely to the Islanders start player Mat Barzal, you'll notice he often makes mistakes that superstar players do not make.

Barzal has more speed and ability than the majority of the players in this league, but he wouldn't crack the first line on quite a few teams. He often tries to make the perfect play, and turns the puck over far too much. This is not a bash on Barzal just because the Islanders quality of play as of late, but a constant in his game the past few seasons.

Is New York Islanders star Mat Barzal elite?

Barzal only has eight points on the season, with four goals and four assists. He is also -8, which is unacceptable for a first line player. Is a skilled player like Barzal not effective in Barry Trotz coaching system, or is Mat Barzal not as good as we think? Watching his game in and out the past few seasons, I'll go with the fact that he's not on an elite level like other NHL superstars.

Say what you want about John Tavares, but he never had first line caliber players on his line, and he always made his line-mates better and racked up points and goals for guys like Matt Moulson. It may be time to think this formula is not working for the Islanders, and it starts at the top, from coaching and management to your "star" players.