There was no way this star center was leaving Long Island - or even getting to free agency.
The New York Islanders announced on Tuesday that star center Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms on an eight-year contract extension with an AAV of $9.15M a year. After an uneventful off-season that left fans dissatisfied with the lack of change to a roster that missed the playoffs last season, GM Lou Lamoriello made his most impactful move just days before the start of the season, locking up yet another core piece for the long-term.
The contract, worth $73.2M, creates certainty for the team's makeup and salary cap situation moving forward - and generates some needed positive vibes before the season. Barzal was entering the last year of a 3-year contract signed in January 2021 that carried a cap hit of $7 million.
NY Islanders sign center Mathew Barzal to 8 x $9.15M extension
There was optimism that negotiations were headed in this direction after Barzal spoke publicly about his affinity for Long Island and the metropolitan area and his belief that a deal could be struck before the start of the season. " There’s still two weeks before the season, and we can hammer something out, Barzal said in September. If not, I’m not really worried about it just because my heart’s here, and I know that it gets something fair and for something both sides would be happy about."
"I think the great thing about here is just having Lou is there’s always respect. It’s never bashing and there’s never, ‘Your worth, this or that’, it’s always fair. It’s always honest. And when you have that mutual respect, I think you always want to go run through a wall for a guy like that. So that’s kind of where my head’s at."- Barzal on Lamoriello in September
Meanwhile, the usually tight-lipped Lamoriello complimented Barzal to the media, calling himself "his biggest fan," and went out of his way to praise his worth ethic and desire to win, something that was a bit of a tell that a contract extension could get worked out before the puck drops on the 2022-23 season.
"We expect a lot out of him. He expects a lot out of himself,” said Lamoriello. “And he’s worked very hard during the summer for that. You know, he’s without question one of our leaders, you know, without question, probably our most talented player, and he’s committed without question."
The 2015 1st round (16th overall) recorded 59 points (15 goals, 44 assists) in 73 games in 2021-22 during his fifth NHL season with the Islanders. Barzal tied for the team scoring lead, marking his fifth straight season atop the Islanders leaderboard in points.
In 362 career regular-season games with the Islanders, the 25-year-old, Barzal has 311 points (91 goals, 220 assists). He ranks 23rd on the Islanders' all-time points list. He has 38 career playoff points (13 goals, 25 assists) in 49 postseason games and has represented the Islanders at two NHL All-Star games (2019 and 2020), winning the fastest skater competition in 2020 in St. Louis.