After a few regular seasons that many consider disappointing points-wise, Mat Barzal was still able to cash in with an eight-year, $9.15 million AAV extension for the NY Islanders in the offseason following. Barzal then had a strong 2022-23 season until he suffered a lower-body injury in February, keeping him out of the lineup until the end of the regular season.
Barzal remains the face of the team and is the reason many people come to watch their games. The British Columbia native only played in 58 games during the season, putting up 14 goals and 37 assists for 51 points. This past season was one of his best in terms of points-per-game (0.88), projecting to approximately 72 points in an 82-game season, his best average since his Calder trophy-winning rookie season. He ended up drawing back into the lineup for the Isles' first playoff game against the Carolina Hurricanes (which they were able to get to without his help) and scored two goals in the series that ended in six games in favor of the Canes.
Barzal will be entering his eighth season in the NHL at 25 years old and should be entering the prime of his career. At times, it seemed like Barzal's linemates did not suit his play style at all and were constantly shifting, but GM Lou Lamoriello looked to close the revolving door of wingers by trading for center Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks around the all-star break.
It came at the cost of Barzal's best friend on the team Anthony Beauvillier, but Horvat and Barzal showed decent chemistry in their small sample size together during the season. With both players locked up long term on the Island and now a full season together upcoming, Barzal will need to continue to hit his stride and be a difference maker on the wing.